Lives Destroyed by the Massachusetts Court System
Broadside’s ‘Falsely Convicted?’ Series
FROM OUR PRINTED AUGUST 2022 EDITION
One Bad Drug Deal, a Forced Plea, Nearly a Lifetime Wasted
CASE #2, Part 2 – A little personal background on Richard Andrews
intro by Lonnie Brennan
story by Richard Andrews
Last month we introduced Case #2: Richard Andrews – a guest of the house of corrections in Massachusetts for 23 out of the past 24 years. He entered prison as a teenager. He’s 42 years old now.
Richard’s life spiraled out of control when he made a series of bad decisions and ended up confessing to a crime he said he didn’t commit, and in which he cites that the prosecutor misrepresented the evidence and put a gun to his head to accept a plea deal (see Part #1).
We thought you might want to know a little bit about Richard, the good and the bad. Yes, he admits repeatedly to many bad things he has done. He’s shared several excerpts of his childhood and his manhood in various correspondence with the Broadside. Here, he shares a little about his downward spiral following his first incarceration.
Notes from Richard Andrews
“I remember the afternoon of March 10, 2000. I was pacing back and forth in the holding cell of Hampden County Superior Court’s holding cell. I had just pleaded guilty to the rape charge. It was the most humiliating thing that I’ve ever experienced, because it felt like I had just thrown my entire life away. It was also strange how another human being could become so judgmental about someone else’s crime, but don’t know the specifics of an individual’s case.
“My reason for saying this is simple… I had been in the oversized holding cell with several other prisoners all morning long. Some of them were from my grandmother’s neighborhood called Cambridge Street, Maynard Street, and The Village. Others were from the other side of town… Eastern Avenue, Bristol Street and Getty Gas. I hung with some of them in the streets. I’m talking about men who I drunk alcohol with and smoked marijuana with. I knew many of their loved ones.
“I bought pampers for their kids and put food on the table. Some of them attended my family gatherings during the holiday. I knew most of them better than the files that held each of their records. Some of them had sexual assault charges that I knew of, because my friend was having an affair with a woman from the Springfield Police Department. She told my friend everything about certain drug dealers in Springfield.
“So once I received my sentence, I wasn’t allowed to be placed back inside the oversized holding cell, because I was considered a state inmate. But when I began pacing back and forth in the single holding cell, some of them started to taunt me about the rape case. I’m talking about a few who actually had sexual assault charges. Yes, they we’re talking sh*t as if they didn’t have f**ked up charges. They were inside a holding cell with a bunch of wolves, but their behavior demonstrated what I was headed for. I needed to experience that, because I was headed to a state penitentiary at the age of 19. I remember the ride there.
“I was transported by the sheriff’s department to MCI-Cedar Junction in Concord, Massachusetts. The sound of metal gates rattling & locks banging against the metal gates for about 2½ hours had ruined my entire thought process, because I was trying to prepare myself for an environment that was completely different from the county jail that held me for twelve months.
“My first meal there was a soggy ham & cheese sandwich, a milk and apple. I was stripped of my clothing, told to turn around, bend over, spread my butt-cheeks, then squat and cough. I was scared, especially when the heavyset guard that stood 6′ 5″ and weighed every bit of 400 pounds, told me to spread my butt-cheeks. Anyway, when I was escorted to the Orientation Unit (J2), I took one deep breath before I entered the unit with my bedroll in one hand, mattress in the other.
“I hadn’t even been inside my assigned cell five seconds… Some black dudes approached my cell and asked me for my paperwork. I was warned about that in the county, so I had my lawyer, remove the sex charges from my paperwork. Even the guard at the desk who told those inmates I was in prison for rape came and asked me for my paperwork. No problem, I showed him and he told them something wasn’t right.
“Still, I slept like a baby that night, knowing my paperwork couldn’t be questioned… at least that’s what I was thinking until I was sent to MCI-Walpole. I had multiple cell fights. There were many times when I couldn’t even leave my assigned cell, because I was f**ked up. A few guards saw what I looked like and did nothing. There were many nights when I cried myself to sleep.
“I was also once physically assaulted by two white men in the kitchen and no black inmates helped me, not even those from my hometown. The only way to protect myself was to fight back. I picked up a wooden dust broom and went crazy on them both. One was shipped to the outside hospital and the other one got away. I served several months in the Departmental Disciplinary Unit (DDU). I was released from the state penitentiary on April 1, 2003. I served 2½ years of a 2½ to 3½ year sentence for the charge of Rape with 7 years of probation for Indecent Assault & Battery, and Assault with Intent to Rape.
“So during the term of probation I failed to check in with my Probation Officer, Sue Galvin, on numerous occasions due to my false assumption that said Probation Officer was not treating me fairly. I reacted immaturely, thinking the deck of cards were stacked against me from the beginning. In other words, I chose to become a fugitive in November of 2003 which resulted in me violating my probationary term because I had this gut wrenching feeling that my Probation Officer was going to send me back to the state penitentiary for what she considered to be a failure to comply with the stipulations set forth.
“Anyway, during my time on the run from the law, I chose to move in with my girlfriend who resided in a two bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of 276 Dwight Street Extension. A relatively small building block, located within the South End section of Springfield, Massachusetts. In my most humble opinion, I had been released from prison at the age of 23. Not to mention, I was only 18 years old when I was charged with rape. I was a teenager and had no sense of direction upon my release from the state penitentiary on April 1, 2003. So I was literally headed for destruction because I hadn’t took the time to build any form of structure. Granted, I was 23 years old when I completed my sentence, but I had the mentality of a young wild teenage boy. Therefore, I wasn’t able to see beyond the barriers of what my Probation Officer was trying to instill in me. I thought I was knowledgeable of what was awaiting my arrival. I wasn’t though, because I hadn’t took the time to look at the actual problem which was my stubbornness to accept failure.
“See, being around crime was nothing new to me, especially since my mother, Janet Andrews, never once felt that it was necessary to deprive me and my sisters of the truth, regarding the pain and suffering that came along with the wonder and weight of parenthood, stemming from the choices she made in her life as a woman and as a mother. She was my first teacher, and therefore I tapped into survival mode as a child when I couldn’t figure out how to combat with the normalcy of responsibility. I was sort of afraid to surrender and voice my fears… So when I began getting myself situated on the South End, I felt like my moment had arrived.
“It felt like my girlfriend had just provided me with a perfect opportunity to make some of my early childhood dreams come true… at least that’s how it seemed until I ended up going downstairs to the 2nd floor apartment where I pointed the gun at one person, but then ended up shooting another. I have taken personal responsibility for the shooting, and at this point of my life I’ve come to realize that my actions against him and his girlfriend were wrong, and I hurt another human being without excuse. I have learned the dynamics of empathy through programming, experience, and age.
“Whereas, I am now 42 years old, and of course I’ve made millions of mistakes during my time of being in this trap of imprisonment. However, what I have managed to learn from those mistakes has made me much wiser. I learned how to deal with failure and not allow it to effect me. I have learned how to make programming my compass.”