Diboll Resident Playing a Happy Tune Thanks to Effective Programs

In just a few weeks, Leroy Cruz will be released back into society.

“I ended up in prison because I made a mistake.”

A mistake that would cost Leroy ten years of his life; six of those years spent at MTC’s Diboll Correctional Center in Texas.

“It’s been a good place to do time. It’s a whole lot better than where I came from, so I am grateful that I am here.”

Leroy has taken advantage of the facility’s many programs including Toastmasters, a course to help develop public speaking skills.

“That program helped me be more confident as far as speaking to people, communicating with people; also, being a leader and an effective listener.”

Leroy ended up teaching Toastmasters for more than two years. He also taught a faith-based program called Therapon and graduated from the program with an associate’s degree.

“That program is geared on changing our mindset. We teach that ‘we do what we do because we believe what we believe.’”

And little did he know that he would fall in love with the guitar and begin to play a new, happy tune in his life.

“Here I am, 59 years old, never in my life touched a guitar. I would never have thought that at my age that I could learn to play the guitar.”

He now helps teach the guitar class and can play more than 100 songs.

“I think most offenders, the label that we get is, we start things, but we don’t finish them. And so, starting programs, starting Therapon, starting Toastmasters, starting the guitar program and seeing it through and completing the programs—has given me the mindset that I can do something. I do believe it will help us out in the world; not only in the sense of those skills we’ve achieved but also in the sense of being able to show people that we’re different men.”

Leroy, who’s counting down the days to his release, says he couldn’t have gotten where he is today without genuinely caring and supportive staff.

“I can walk up to Warden Driskell pretty much anytime, and he’s available. He’s got an open ear to all the inmates, not just me. And I appreciate that.”