Damascus Way Resident Shares Story of Criminal Background and Redemption
“I had every demon in the world in me,” Damascus Way resident, Allan Howe*
Anticipating his future with a life sentence, Al said, “I’m not made for prison, I would rather have been executed than stay in prison.” But since Minnesota does not have the death penalty, he did the next logical thing – Al escaped the Stillwater Prison during his first year.
While on the run, he decided to lay low at a friend’s house. That evening he turned on the television and saw his face flash across the screen with the caption ‘Serial Killer on the Loose’. In that moment, some kind of reality sunk in that hadn’t been there before. Al says it’s hard to describe but the seriousness of his situation was staring him in the face.
As a SWAT team was closing in on his hide-out, Al decided to surrender. He was put into solitary confinement for one year. And it was during this time, isolated from human contact, that things finally began to change.
The Love of God Through Meta[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n solitary, Al started getting letters in the mail from one “little old lady” as he refers to her, named Meta. Meta’s words spoke to him as she wrote about God. Al says, “Although many people tried to engage me with letters, I ignored them all, but there was something about this lady. I wrote her back and asked who she was, and why she was writing me.”
Along came a fragile, elderly woman and she changed my behavior and actually saved my life with the Word of God.
Amazingly, Meta had briefly encountered Allan before he was locked-up. While seeing his story unfold in the news, she remembered shooing him away once from a park filled with children where he had been dealing drugs. Meta now told Allan that God had told her to write, a memory that is still so deeply emotional for Al, he can barely speak of it.
“Along came a fragile, elderly woman and she changed my behavior and actually saved my life with the Word of God. It just goes to show the power and strength this elderly woman had as she walked with God. Thank you Meta for giving me a second chance on life.”
Meta and Al corresponded for decades before Meta passed away in 2000; writing about the Bible, Jesus, and God’s plan for his life. “Jesus showed me what it was to be a decent human being. To be compassionate, to be kind, to reach out to people if you see someone that’s not only hungry but hurting mentally,” says Allan.
The shame he once felt for being labelled a “serial killer” no longer haunts him. “I got rid of the demons. Because of Meta, I tried to commit my life to doing good. For the rest of my time in prison, I participated in every program available that allowed me to give back,” says Allan.
Released from Prison, Enters Damascus Way[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hirty-nine years after entering prison, Allan Howe was released. In Minnesota, some life sentences are eligible for parole, and Al may be a good example of why. But it has still been a long journey. “When it came time to go to Damascus Way, I didn’t have any idea about life here in the outside world,” says Al.
When it came time to go to Damascus Way, I didn’t have any idea about life here in the outside world.
“The electronics part is what I’m having trouble with, I’m not interested in all these gadgets on the phones.”
In spite of all the catching up he has to do, Al has transitioned into working a full-time job, is moving into permanent housing, and is trying to adjust to the new technology. When asked about what’s ahead for him, Al says he has some ideas but is not exactly sure yet. Just getting settled into his new home and hooking up his first computer might be enough for now but he says, “I don’t worry about my future because He has a plan for me. I just need to stay on God’s path.”
*Not his real name
Damascus Way Reentry Center Serves Ex-Offenders, offering hope for freedom and change. The program is licensed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections and holds Supervised Release and Work Release Contracts. More information at Damascus Way.