Welcome to the Join Up Dots Podcast with Dainhen Butler
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Introducing Dainhen Butler
Not too many people can say life was nice and easy for them growing up.
But our guest on Join Up Dots will tell you his life wasn’t extremely hard as a young adult, but it definitely wasn’t easy either.
Surrounding himself with groups of friends that showed him that life was what you made it, he got involved with quick and easy money and a life of crime at a young age.
His desire to wear brand clothing sparked petty thievery such as popping lockers to steal valuables of fellow classmates to begin with, which gradually evolved to armed robberies.
It was when he ordered his affiliates to intrude a store for the second time that was under police surveillance that things came to a head and he was sentenced to serve 10 Years in Lee Arrendale State Prison for armed robbery.
Now the interesting thing about this tale was our guest wasn’t a child who was uninterested, bored and didn’t have an interest for schooling.
He loved being on the debate team, and like many children had a huge passion for playing basketball and shooting the hoops.
How The Dots Joined Up For Dainhen
This is a tale of a young adult surrounding himself with the wrong people and making the wrong choices in life
Now he has risen from the ashes of his past mistakes and run’s several businesses in the local Georgia community: FunTime Moonwalk Rentals, A&B Ice Cream Trucks, and Tender Care Home Healthcare Service.
He also published a book on his testimony- Shawty: Dainhen Butler and appeared on the well received documentary The Alto Adjustment”, which is the harrowing but inspirational documentary of his life.
So what was life like in prison, and is it likely to inspire the prisoners to change direction, or harden them for a life of more crime?
And does he feel that he is a stronger person because of his history or just a different person because of it?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Dainhen Butler.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Dainhen Butler such as:
How he needed a new set of trainers in his life (or he thought he did) and decided that he needed the money to get them. There was only one way that it was going to occur. The start of the end.
How he recalls the night that he was arrested and is clear that an error of judgement led to his arrest and ultimate incarceration.
How he tells how he had an opportunity to reduce his sentence by testifying against some old colleagues, but knew in his heart that he had led them to that place, so wouldn’t.
How his resume leaving prison was not the key to a fresh start with a clean slate, but instead a key to a world of frustration.
How he sees his big dot in life as the moment he broke his violin at school. A simple action that was a sign of things to come.
How To Connect With Dainhen Butler
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here– enjoy
Full Transcription Of Dainhen Butler Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph
David Ralph [0:26]
Diaz Hello there. Good morning to you and welcome to the first episode in the three hundreds Yes, this is Episode 301 of Join Up Dots and we’re coming to you across the world. And we have got a guy on today that has absolutely got a fascinating story. And he’s probably the only guest that I’ve had on so far that I’ve actually watched him live in a documentary before actually recording so I know a certain amount about him and I know it’s a story that is going to inspire you and in throw you as we have our conversation now. Not Many people can say a life was nice and easy for them growing up, but our guest on Join Up Dots will tell you his life wasn’t extremely hard as a young adult. But it definitely wasn’t easy either. Surrounding himself with groups of friends that showed him that life was what you made it he got involved with quick and easy money and a life of crime at quite a young age, is designed to wear brand clothing spart petty fevery such as popping lockers to store valuables or fellow classmates to begin with, which gradually evolved armed robberies. It was when he ordered his affiliates to include a store for a second time that was under police surveillance, that things came to a head and he was sentenced to serve 10 years in Lee Allendale state prison for armed robbery. Now, the interesting thing about this town to me was our guest wasn’t a child who was an interesting board and didn’t have an interest for schooling. He loved being on the debate team. And like many children had a huge passion for playing basketball and shoot nopes Now, this is a tale of a young adult surrounding himself with perhaps the Young people and certainly making the wrong choices in his life. But now he’s risen from the ashes of his past mistakes and run several businesses in the local Georgia community funtime moonwalk rentals anb ice cream trucks and tender care home health care service. He’s also published a book and his testimony and has appeared on the well received documentary The outer adjustment, which is the harrowing but inspirational documentary of his life. So what was life like in prison? Is it likely to inspire the prisoners to change direction or harden them for a life of more crime? And does he feel that he’s a stronger person because of his history? Or just a different person because of it? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Dainhen Butler. How are you Dainhen?
Dainhen Butler. [2:45]
I’m okay. Good morning. Good morning. Thanks for having me.
David Ralph [2:48]
It is a lovely to have you on you. You said. We’re gonna cut to the chase here, Dainhen Butler. and you said an amazingly positive statement as soon as we connected today, and I said to you, I was your Sunday today. Good in your life and you tell the listeners what you said.
Dainhen Butler. [3:04]
I’m alive and living. So it’s awesome, because pretty much anything else is a complaint.
David Ralph [3:10]
Absolutely what what positive way of thinking about life? Have you always had that? Or have you sort of developed that, obviously, because you’ve been through a certain amount of hardships in your life.
Dainhen Butler. [3:19]
I think that as we grow older, I think we have a greater appreciation for you know, some of the things we at a younger age we take for granted. Like, I find peace in watching bodies of steel, water, I find peace and just breathing because everybody’s not breathing. I’m healthy. I’m alive, and I’m capable of learning. That means I can get stronger I can get better. So where I’m at right now, I won’t be there at the end. I won’t be the same at the end of this interview. So as long as I can get better and get stronger and continue to put goodness into the world, then it’s a plus and it’s life is worth living.
David Ralph [3:55]
Now it’s fascinating because you because you say that I’ve just been watching the documentary about you which we Obviously, we’ll talk about on the show. But one of the things that I found fascinating was how you developed a growth mindset whilst in prison. And I think it was actually your mother was saying that she saw a change of you, when you started to take an interest in developing yourself. So you do feel now literally everything is an experience and is an extension of the bat.
Dainhen Butler. [4:24]
Without a doubt, anytime I can expose myself to information or information because that’s basically what you know, education is, then it’s an opportunity to grow. And I think that coming from a position where you know, I did not understand my full potential. I did not know a a number of things. I was not aware of myself to a full degree. So I think that what’s one is able to first identify with who he is and where he’s going. Then there’s a certain amount of peace that comes along with With that, because to not know is is frustrating. And when you when you feed that frustration, it can turn into disappointment. It could turn into depression, it could turn into suicide. So I’m very thankful for, you know, just the constant growth is continuously been able to take place in my life.
David Ralph [5:22]
Did you find it fascinating that you do think this way because the thing that struck me from watching that film was the fact that you weren’t a stupid child, you were clever, and you just kind of made the wrong choices because you were one of those kids that could quite easily have gone both ways could have gone the wrong way or the right way because you were somebody that wasn’t interested in schooling. You just was looking for the fast route. So do you find that fascinating, but your mind has almost gone full circle to as you were as a small child.
Dainhen Butler. [5:57]
You know, what the the Crazy part is that as a young child, I’m as optimistic as I was once when I was a child. Because at one particular time, I wanted to change the world. I wanted to be active in my community, I used to look at The Cosby Show and a different world. And I want to I want it to be an attorney. I wanted to be I knew that I wanted to be behind a microphone, and I wanted to motivate people to be conscious, and somewhere along the lines of after puberty, and upon approaching adulthood, of there were a number of questions and a number of elements that simply weren’t answered. And so without having an answer, I came up with my own conclusion. And sometimes that can be good. And sometimes that can be bad because when you come up with a conclusion, and you begin to test that theory, and sometimes it works, and when I say it works, I don’t mean for the world? I mean, in my own personal perception of what the world is it worked. And so I adopted that mindset as a way of life and it ended in a detrimental situation. But now I am like I say, I have the the optimism of a 13 year old in reference to my capabilities and just the goodness I can put into the world.
David Ralph [7:28]
Now, what now will you influence when when you said The Cosby Show, I used to watch The Cosby Show, and they were obviously a black family, but they were very wealthy. I think he was a doctor and she was a lawyer or something. So they were doing very well for themselves. Was was that sort of inspirational, that kind of environment when you were growing up? Did you look at that and think, yes, that’s what I could become.
Dainhen Butler. [7:51]
Yes, without a doubt, I mean, anything that you expose yourself to over a certain amount of time has an influence on your dialogue, your acting Spit on life, anything in general and identify with characters because of, you know, where they came from and you know, their their race, but also their their ability to to grow, you know, I watched the characters grow. And it started with The Cosby Show and that transition over to a different world where I saw people of my race, attending school and, and, and becoming one with their dreams or at least aspiring to and so I was able to identify, just like with anything else if I now I can identify with people because we are humans, but at that particular time, that was like the gateway, we didn’t have the internet. We didn’t have you know, all the social networks. So it was a situation where it was kind of you you chose that or you didn’t have a choice. It’s on Thursday nights. That’s what was going on and Friday morning, I remember getting up and trying dress like the characters that I saw but not just that and more importantly trying to you know mimic their their habits and reference to school and you know becoming whatever you could become
David Ralph [9:13]
so so you weren’t really on the right path when you went when he when he was a young man and growing through into puberty. You were you you were on the straight and narrow and it came across but your mum and dad were pretty straight and now all the way along the line and and you know, treated you firmly I suppose not harshly, there was a lot lot of loving your family but it was very a firm upbringing and they wanted you to do well and and push yourself to do well. And the fact that you’re watching programmes like that, and you’re dressing and you’re seeing them as role models. It seems strange to me from the outsider’s point of view, to see how your life changed quite quickly. And it seemed to me from the documentary that each change, literally when drug started come in, not the hard drugs, but the kind of social drugs, but you can still to a certain point operate, but it must affect your thinking.
Dainhen Butler. [10:09]
I think that drugs affected, you know me, indirectly, prior to directly because I did participate in, you know, the uses of marijuana at a young age. But I think that more importantly or more directly that, you know, in these United States, we’ve had a number of epidemics around about the, you know, 70s 80s 90s there were there was a strong crack epidemic. And to I’ve never personally smoked crack myself, however, I’ve have family members who’ve interacted and to have that to take place to see them, you know, go from one particular status to another particular status, because of their usage for drugs. Um, it has an effect and it also So, if these individuals are the ones who are to guide you, or to give you, you know, some some guidance in reference to what it is to be a man and to be a responsible citizen and to be an asset to their to your community, if their perception of life is altered, and you began to adapt their midst understanding of society, then it could it could grow to be disasters to one degree or another. So, and I also look at, you know, the education system as well and where you position yourself on a social ladder is is a direct effect or a direct cause of your income, your your neighbourhood, or just your livelihood. Drugs had a large play and that particular society. I was going to particular school because that’s what my parents could afford. And so because of that, you know, I, you know, to this day, I still I act a certain way because this is what I know is to be an education system. And I have no faith in the education system that I want to participate in. But I was only victim I was exposed to that because of our income and our income was it was what it was because of Craig, if that makes sense.
David Ralph [12:28]
Well, he does, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the laziness came in you started smoking and there was a story that you told but I thought it was so subtle but so powerful that you were playing basketball and you were really focused and then you started smoking and being full Oh, I can smoke and play at the same time. I can smoke beforehand. And then it was just like a laziness loosening of your know your morals, but you’re you’re just focused on what was right Wrong, really that you could get away with it? I suppose that’s the thing.
Dainhen Butler. [13:05]
Oh, yeah, without a doubt, and because at one particular time, I had no idea what marijuana was, I thought it was something that you smoked. And you saw elephants running down the street and family members, I was exposed because I hung around certain family, older family members. And it went from, you know, I was playing three different sports and not to anything that I could do the stay after school, our participate in it. And so, you’re exactly right. You know, once I was exposed to it, initially, it wasn’t a big change, I can see a big change, but then it did come to, you know, reducing the number of sports I play to just basketball and it had a an effect on my grades in reference to, you know, I remember coming home and the first thing that I did was my homework. And now when I came home, it was like, Well, I’m not gonna do it right now. I’m gonna go smoke, and I’ll do my homework in the morning and then that just gradually turn into, I’m not gonna be able to finish this homework assignment. And when it came to sports, it was more like I’m just gonna play basketball. But even while I was playing basketball, I smoke with teammates, and it affected. It affected me to the degree like one day I was in basketball practice. And because I had smoke, you know, at first I was moving in a in a way that I’ve never moved before. And I miscalculated a step and I sprained my ankle. So for a number of games, I was sitting on the bench, because nobody knew but because I had smoked marijuana, I didn’t get playing time, and then that just led to certain things. But the sick part is that while I was on crutches, I still smoke marijuana, not really understanding then what was the cause of the problems that I was dealing with? He
David Ralph [14:51]
your journey is subtle, isn’t it? It is so subtle, you know, you’re a good man. Now we’ve got you on the show. Because you’re doing Great stuff and you’re giving back to the community and you have changed your life. But I can’t get away from the fact that have you changed your life? Or is it just a bit in the middle? That was wrong? You seem to be good at the beginning. And you’re good now. And it’s just, it was a subtle slide you kind of went on from that basketball game and that sprained ankle and the smoking that led onto certain other things. And you could have nipped in the bud at any time. Couldn’t you
Dainhen Butler. [15:28]
know what, now that I look back at it, it could have been nipped in the bud but as a participant who was in the depths of it at that particular time, I did not have a full definition of self I did not know, I had the ability to change, because it was it was it was happening. And it’s kind of like you look back on life and you say I if I could have done this differently than I would have. Um, and the difference between then and now is I understand the power that I have I understand the ability of sacrifice. And I understand, you know, what society is going to accept, and I understand what they’re they’re not going to accept, but most importantly, what what the outcome is to, you know, not doing what you’re supposed to do? And to answer your question very much. So I just I had the ability to change. I just didn’t understand that I had the power to change.
David Ralph [16:25]
But he’s that because you are naturally a leader and people were looking at you because it’s quite obvious through everything I know about you, you you’ve got that extra. I suppose that X Factor people will look at you and be led by your actions. Did you feel that at the time did you feel that you was the the catalyst the focal point for your peer group and what was going on around you? And if you did step away from them, ultimately there was going to be a gap in other people’s lives.
Dainhen Butler. [16:56]
No, I don’t think that that
The leadership role has taken a toll on me while I was still in school, because when I was in school, I was still following, but I was following the blind. I was following people then that these people actually follow me now. And, and and I say that in reference to, you know, and sometimes you don’t understand the power that you have, you don’t understand that you are a leader until you able to reflect back on it. And at that particular time, I was just trying to fit in i, i i right now, I never looked at basketball. I never looked at sports on TV. It just didn’t didn’t do anything for me. But at that particular time in these United States, I think there’s a large emphasis put on individuals who have who stand above six feet three. You’re supposed to play basketball, my uncle’s play basketball, my whole family. You know, we’re athletic. It was never explained to me that you don’t have to play, you don’t have to do this. So I’m saying that to say that once I was a not able to perform at a level that, you know, was accepted to be in the above and beyond, I saw myself as a failure. With and with that being said, it’s it. You don’t have to play basketball. I only did the things that I was doing, because those people who I looked up to saw them as being acceptable.
David Ralph [18:28]
Yeah, I can understand that I can totally and just because he’s peer group, and everybody struggles with peer pressure only.
Dainhen Butler. [18:35]
Yeah, I was not a leader at that particular time. I mean, I was a leader in what I was doing. I was a leader at following though I was just a strong follower at that particular time, because I had I’ve been a leader, then I would have stayed in strange places. I played the violin from, you know, elementary school, and I love the violin. But, you know, being six, three, living in a predominantly African American neighbourhood you don’t walk home with A violin or a cello, or a viola is just like it didn’t happen that way now without, you know, suffering the consequences. So I, you know, I purposely destroyed you know, very valuable instruments because I didn’t want to be in a strange class anymore. And my teacher, he was like, I’ve been working with you, since junior high. I don’t want you to stop doing this when I just I broke the equipment, so he would kick me out of class. But had I been a leader, you know, I would have took advantage of that situation because I had a deep love for music. But everybody else thought that you know, basketball was going to be my way out so I just did what they thought I should do. So
David Ralph [19:40]
when you started with the subtle, the small time criminal activities of breaking into lockers and stuff, was it just as something to do was it that the thrill of getting away with something or were you actually after money for a reason?
Dainhen Butler. [19:58]
I think that Other people had certain things like in reference to going to school shopping like I was, if I didn’t have a summer job, I didn’t go school shopping. And so as I began to play sports, you know, it was less time to get a job. I played three different sports so my entire summer and every day after school, it was just it was drowned. We after school activities, I got up in the morning it was dark outside and we wrote the M to M bus which is minority to majority where kids in urban Atlanta could travel to, you know, the outskirts and, you know, try to get exposed to different cultures. And so it just left no time to do anything, no time to earn extra dollars. And so Wow, this kid is getting a new pair of shoes and a new shirt. I’m still trying to I used to put shoe polish on my shoes like and it didn’t dawn on me that this was not working until one day I had a pair of Reebok classics and I would clean them up every day prior to going to school. And I would put shoe polish on those shoes. And one day it rained. And while I while I came into the school, and I was walking down the hallway, I left the right type of shoe polish and so by the time I got to my locker, you know, my shoes weren’t as clean as they appear to be because you know, it, it bursts a rain it went it off or whatnot. And so now I’m in a position where I have the notoriety to be a leader in the school, but I don’t feel like my shoes are, are are good enough. I don’t feel like like I look good enough to be in a position that I want to be in. So then I began to do things that will allow me to get extra money that did not involve having a job. So to answer your question, and I begin to steal it out of not because I know needed but because I believe that I needed because the shoes didn’t have holes in them. They didn’t have holes in them. And so technically, those shoes were perfect. They were used to get me back and forth to school. And that’s what they did. But I wanted to have the new shoes I wanted to have shoes and everybody else had.
David Ralph [22:20]
So when you did the first crime and you got away with it, did you instantly think this is good? Or did you go home thinking that there’s no getting away from that? That was wrong? I shouldn’t have done that. But I still got away with it. Did you struggle with it?
Dainhen Butler. [22:34]
You know what the sad part is I did not really struggle because there was no right and wrong. And I say that because I was more overpowered by my right and wrong was it’s wrong to have the shoes. It’s right to have shoes the other people like and then I like to be seen in that was my right and wrong. I was not as conscious as I was in reference to you know, different I’m going to be able to look myself in a mirror that was not the issue. Now I have that issue before I do something I want to say, am I be? Am I going to be what can I tell my daughters what I’ve just done. And if I can’t tell my daughters what I’ve done, I tend not to do it. But at that particular time, it was just like, I’m hungry. And I want this and you have it, so I’m gonna get it. So that was my right and wrong. And so
David Ralph [23:24]
danan though there wasn’t any escalation of that right and wrong, but there was in your head, there was no difference from opening somebody’s locker and getting away with it armed robbery, because that that’s a stretch, isn’t it? But you still did at that time. You felt the same way. There was no right and wrong.
Dainhen Butler. [23:44]
No, it was no white law. I knew that. It was unlawful, but I wasn’t even informed as to what the law really was. You know, I had no exposure to the judicial system or police for that matter.
David Ralph [23:59]
Yeah, but you still In a store with a gun, man that’s wrong you get everybody would know that when they
Dainhen Butler. [24:06]
you know, it’s the sad part is that I think that I was in such a disillusion as to what reality was that I never documented as being wrong like when I said in that sale and I thought about the people that I put that gun on my heart eight because I said to myself, you know what? You wronged society you, you put a gun on an innocent person who had done nothing to anybody, and you demand it their hard earned dollars. And to me right now as a 37 year old that is wrong. When you do something wrong, you know, you have to be punished for that because if you don’t then there is no lawless, there’s no, there’s no peace. There’s no no snow. There’s no place to to it’s just chaos. if everybody’s running around doing what they want to do. Women want to do it, then it’s like the Wild Wild West. I did not understand it at that time. At that time. It was more like, I want it you have it, I’m coming to get it. I didn’t I didn’t even take into consideration that these people were innocent or these people had not done anything to me. I didn’t care. You have it. I want it.
David Ralph [25:18]
And what what was he your largest stash? In one go? How much did you take in a lawful manner?
Dainhen Butler. [25:26]
You know, the sad part is that I don’t know an exact number. I do know that it went from one particular time. I know it was like six of us. And it was enough for everybody to walk away with about about 15 by 10 to $15,000. But I had got so so greedy, that I had worked it out where I could steal from the people that I had just robbed with like I would say to a friend of mine, like you know what, nobody went to the safe except for you and I so nobody really knows how much money We have, so why don’t you keep some for us to split up later. And then once this happened one or two times, then I began to individually approach everybody in the crew individually. And so there was some money that we all took in. And then I would go and catch up with the other guys and say, Well, I know you kept something for us. And there will be another. Another Countdown to you know, or another increasing financial gain.
David Ralph [26:29]
So So tell us the story of the night because you said it very eloquently in the documentary, you’re in the store, you’re just about to rub it, and you weren’t aware that the police were outside, and there was still an error of judgement on your behalf that made you the person that they got, and led you on your way to prison. So tell us about that story.
Dainhen Butler. [26:55]
Well, we rode up to a place that had we weren’t we’re not stressed. too we had walked this entity at least twice before. And so it was kind of routine. And then and if we had not robbed that one, we’d Rob by the same store at a different location. So we had the, you know, just the the fundamental elements of how their procedures down to a science. And so upon entering the store, everything was going as normal until in officer pulled up. And he didn’t pull up because somebody called me pull it up to get a pack of cigarettes. And while we were there we are initially ran towards the back of the store, and I saw people running with me and then I ran to the front. And when I ran to the front, you know, everybody was following me and I think that was detrimental in reference to just leadership because it was that that particular I came up with the plan. And, you know, I did the research, but it was then that I was like these people are literally following me and so on. made the decision to go out of the front door. As I went as the police was entering one section of the store, we were exiting the other section of the store. And so we hopped in the vehicle we, we drove in, and the police came back outside, he hopped in his car, and everybody got into the vehicle we drove there with but in my mind, I said to myself that these people are going to get caught because they’re in a vehicle, the police, he’s in the vehicle, and it’s quite naturally to assume that he is going to follow them. And so I ran beside that vehicle, they slowed down and just tricked me in but in my mind because I was still for self and I was like, you know, I’m gonna win. I said to myself, these guys are gonna get caught. So as they approach the end of the parking lot, I veered off to the left, assuming that the police officer was going to chase them, when in fact she allowed them to go free and he in a bystander chased me through the back woods.
David Ralph [29:03]
So on that night, obviously, we’re going to get to the point where you are put into prison and a very rough prison for 10 years. But how many of those people in that store also went away? How many got away with it? And how many did he go to prison?
Dainhen Butler. [29:21]
Or everybody got away?
David Ralph [29:23]
Since I said, I said, I went penalised at all, even though they’ve been part of your gang doing these robberies, they lived a life of freedom, they never got punished for
Dainhen Butler. [29:34]
it did and I was I was asked to testify against two of them original winco and Demetrius Chapman, but the time that I was asked to testify against him for a, a lower sentence because I could have easily done five years. But it was at that particular time that was coming to the realisation that had it not been for me they would not hit even been there. I am the only I’m the sole motivation of those people doing what they did. And so if I’m going to take responsibility for my own actions I have to be I have to take responsibility for that, and which I’ve caused people to do as well. That was my reasoning at that particular time.
David Ralph [30:18]
And what’s your change at that, that that thinking? Because that that is big thinking, isn’t it to be aware, but actually, you got both them to that position. So you’re not going to reduce your time because of it.
Dainhen Butler. [30:32]
Yeah, that was that was part of the transitioning. And that was a part of, you know, me saying because at one point in time, I was going to a jury trial, meaning that I was going in front of a jury saying that I’m innocent, and I didn’t do this and I should be let go. And then I’m throughout the procedure, you know, I gained a relationship with good and throughout this relationship, I was continuously Being honest with him, but then out of my mouth would be lies. Because every time we went to court, I would say I didn’t do this. I didn’t do this. And it was something in my within that, that came off. It was like, you know, this is very hypocritical. This doesn’t make sense from a logical perspective is like, you know what? You’re saying that you want to be righteous, you’re saying that you want to do the right thing, and that you’re sorry for what you’re done. But then you’re not yet even openly taking responsibility for it. And I think that that was the biggest, the biggest sink in my ship because it was like, I have to whatever the consequences are, for my actions, I have to take responsibility. If I have to die because of this, then I have to, but I have to be able to say that I’m doing the right thing or else it didn’t end. It continues to take place and I can blame so many other people, the education system, America, I can blame all these people. But the truth of the matter is that I did something and I was guilty of doing that. And so I have to take responsibility on everything that comes into play. I did it. And now it’s like, I’m not going to go, Oh, I’m not doing the trial. I want to know what judge, I’m guilty. And I apologise and whatever comes with that, let’s go ahead and do it.
David Ralph [32:21]
Well, you know, I don’t want this to sound trite in any shape or form. But I applaud you for that. Because so many people go through the penitentiary system don’t know and they basically come out more hardened criminals when they went in for the you it actually changed your life. He took you back to the young child will we were talking about at the beginning.
Dainhen Butler. [32:43]
Yes, without a doubt, and a lot of people do go through the system and they don’t get fixed because I don’t think that the system is set up to fix and I won’t venture off into left field but and United States prisons are very profitable. I think we have like one of The largest prison populations in the world. And in reference to the education system, what I found is that those people who are effectively educated are less likely to even go to prison from the get go. Because it’s not logical. And we understand that there are other ways to obtain financial gain. And with that being said, it’s it’s a it’s something where you have to look at how how America setup in reference to the education system and the people who, um, who invest in the prison population are some of the same people who have control of the education system. And when that’s a factor, what you have is a pipeline from from school like they take the second, they take the test scores of our second and third graders, and as opposed to restriction the education system, they determine how more how many prisons, they’re going to build. When that’s a fact, then you you’ve got a bigger prize bigger than Damon Butler in the outdoor Jasmine.
David Ralph [34:09]
So the out of adjustment prison just so that the listeners can get an idea of it. It’s you know, all prisons must be dreadful to go to I can’t imagine going to prison and I don’t think I would survive it. But that was a bad one that that was one that was a place that you didn’t want to go to. Do you remember the feelings when you suddenly found out that this was the place because you thought you were going to a different prison, didn’t you? But you actually found out that it was the same prison but they just changed his name.
Dainhen Butler. [34:40]
Exactly. Because alto what was taking place where a lot of kids a lot of kids my age, were getting raped and murdered. And you know, I have nothing against the homosexual community but I just don’t didn’t want to be one. And so I was told that you know, as long as you don’t go to Alto, you straight you’re good. Going to make it because you’re here strong, you got a little size on you, so you have nothing to worry about. So when they told me that I was going to leave Aaron do I was like who, you know, as long as we’re not going out to. And then I had found out that because alto had received so much negative media publicity that they changed the name to liron deal. And so it was a bad disappointment. And now I was just like, oh, man, so upon getting there, you know, my number one rule, or my job, my my mission statement was to maintain my sexuality. And it was just a bad place. It was a bad place. I mean, day one. As soon as I walked in, it was like, you know, the test began and you’re right, any prison is a bad prison. But when you take a number of young people, young, strong people who are not educated and who have a lack of self definition, and they start coming rules on their own and you turn the heat up. It’s just a horrible place. It’s like a jungle for humans.
David Ralph [36:07]
But But is there no control within there because you in the documentary, your friend was telling this this horrific towel of being trapped in a room with a chap who basically was either going to rape him or beat him up. And he fought for his life for 10 minutes until he’s he’s attacker basically ran out of steam and vain was let out and I basically locked him in the room and that was it. It was it was sink or swim, win or die. And so was no control in there because you couldn’t do that all the time. Could you you couldn’t be fighting for your life all the time.
Dainhen Butler. [36:45]
Well, you know, there were, you know, there are times when they come through and they do inspection. There are times when the staff is present, but for the majority of the day, you know, it’s it’s a free range. It’s a free range and if it didn’t happen today, then you missed Leave when you wake up tomorrow, this is they’re going back to the plan by and this is the thing like we’re talking. We’re not talking about a college campus. We’re not talking about, you know, summer camp, we’re talking about prison, we’re talking about a group of people who have wrong society. So in it, no reference to just, you know, the perception of, you know, the institution. It’s pretty it’s where people were bad people go, so I can almost understand why would the staff care about somebody you’re a big bad guy rather than people with guns. And now you want to cry about you’re the victim now. So what you shouldn’t you should have stayed at home. You should have stayed at home you shouldn’t do what you’re supposed to do because you didn’t do that. And this is this is your punishment.
David Ralph [37:45]
Yeah, no, I don’t agree with that though. Because you know, rape is wrong anywhere isn’t it doesn’t matter if he’s in prison or it’s outside and VAT taking away of somebody’s you know, self esteem and life, spirit or Whatever happens after that, there’s no getting away from that as a crime and whether it’s it’s inside prison or outside prison, that is a crime and that should be stopped.
Dainhen Butler. [38:11]
It should be it should be. But you know, like I say, you know, when you when you do certain things you put in certain environments Had it been on the college campus, then it would have gained notoriety. It would have had publicity involved, it would have been on the five o’clock news but in prison, it’s a it’s happening right now as we speak.
David Ralph [38:34]
So how did you find the right people in prison to support you and help you through? How did you select the ones that actually were looking after you and watching your back?
Dainhen Butler. [38:49]
I think there were first to the inmates or, you know, friends or compadres. It was more reference to who I knew interacted in certain For those people who are no homosexuals, I, you know, like I said nothing against them. We just didn’t, you know, talk or class together. And then though it was those selected few people who were motivated by the library call are motivated by, you know, trade school or something that was going to move you forward. And so, after you spend a couple of years with a guy taking barbering, or taking culinary arts, you know, that bond is is created. But on another level, you know, there were certain staff members in the education department who saw something in me that I did not see myself Susan Slayer, who still earlier and do state prison, and she’s in charge of the education department. She she allowed us to participate in certain you know, book clubs and debate clubs. And that that changed so to answer your question, Ty, and just certain elements that people would not participate in. And most importantly, somebody saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and they gave me an opportunity to, you know, give me growth.
David Ralph [40:14]
But but the intriguing thing that Susan saw was the younger you that the fact that when you was in school, you loved chess and you love the debate team. And then your passion in prison went the same way again. So she only saw the version of yourself that you’d forgotten somehow.
Dainhen Butler. [40:33]
Yes, yes. Because you have to imprison you take on a persona that is not your own. You have to be like, I literally forgot how to smile. I didn’t know how to laugh, because laughter and smiling was a sign of weakness. And you just didn’t want it. You had to be like, very rough and you would be standoffish, not because you were you know, sociably standoffish You will be standoffish because you don’t pick. This is what I learned about people is that when you think about a total stranger and you think about your best friend, your best, the only thing that separates those two people is the amount of information they know about you. Your best friend knows a whole lot more about you than a total stranger. However, their best friend also has the strongest possibility of hurting you. So, with that, being my equation, I thought to myself, the less information I share with these people, the less likely I am to be hurt. You don’t know my weaknesses, because I hadn’t shown to you. You don’t know my insecurities because I hadn’t exposed myself to you in that light. And the only way not to have people to actually questions is to have a look on your face. 24 seven, that does not promote or it actually deters people from asking you questions.
Unknown Speaker [41:53]
Since it will
David Ralph [41:55]
you imprison This is the key part. Was it Susan? Seeing that in you, but you’d forgotten. Was it the fact that you started doing these, these activities just to fill up the time because it must be a lot of 24 hours a day just thinking, how am I going to get through another day? So the fact you’re starting reading furiously, and you’re in the debate club and you’re getting involved in things, were those passions that were ignited? Was that the first step to you changing or finding your your real self again?
Dainhen Butler. [42:29]
It was, it was no it was, I think that
you have only a number of things that you can do in prison, you can go to recall, you can go to chow hall, you can go to the library, and once I began to read my motivation change I wanted to be in the library 24 seven when new books came out, would get on the way our trading my food, for books, I would pay for certain books, our rent certain books I would motivate people to get books. And then and when she began to come up with her list of people she wanted to participate. I was one of those individuals and she kind of collected those people who were more motivated by education and you know, getting stronger, and life and that just kind of it just worked out for the greater good.
David Ralph [43:24]
So so it was personal belief that put the five on your own belief, and the two really got you cooking on gas before you even come out. Because How many years did you actually do about 10 years sentence
Dainhen Butler. [43:37]
did from from November 26 2006 to November 26. I’m sorry. 1996 to November 26 2006. So it was a decade It was 10 years
David Ralph [43:50]
since you did the full time so there was no getting out of it early.
Dainhen Butler. [43:55]
On Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Get out of no good out for good. behaviour, it was a decade within itself.
David Ralph [44:03]
So you you leave jail, and you have got these passions to change your life and do things the right way. And you suddenly found out by on your resume, saying that you’ve got a crime history was less than a good thing to have. And it almost put you to a position where you were thinking, What’s the point? Do you remember how you felt when you kept on getting rejected for trying your best to to get a job and start earning money the right way?
Dainhen Butler. [44:34]
I felt very confused. Because I would think that okay, an individual who’s gone through the system, and supposedly I’m rehabilitated, then I’m ready to be a contributing member of society. And it was then and only then that I began to realise that society had a totally different perception of an individual who had gone through the judicial system. And it was it was very real. And it was saddening to a degree because in my mind, I was like, I have a fresh start, I can somebody just hit the reset button, I can go out here and I can do right and I can get a job and I can help. And when I went to, you know, fill out job applications, I thought that people wanted to hear my explanation. They didn’t care about the explanation. They just wanted to know, if you were going to take the convicted felon box or not, that’s all that matters. And now I understand that, you know, as a business owner, I understand why a a CEO or or or an owner would not want to know, jeopardise their, their business with dealing with somebody who is you know, from a statistical perspective is not going to be out here for long anyway because Georgia has like one of the highest recidivism rates in the world and reference to you recidivism is the rate at which people returning back to prison, which is a totally different monster. So so you
David Ralph [46:06]
an entrepreneur now with your own businesses, would you think twice about taking somebody on that has been through the system?
Dainhen Butler. [46:14]
No, I actually have, you know, people who work for me who’ve gone through the system as well as those those who have not. And I’m not just a business owner, I’m a case manager. And a lot of the people that work for me are on my caseload, like, they pay me to go into the prison system to talk to people, and I understand when they tell me they can’t find a job, but they’re really trying, I understand this. And so, um, I don’t know what my opinion would have been had I not gone through that situation. But now I understand that, you know, this person is a victim of circumstances, their victim of racism, their victim of drone usage or Drug exposure. And so they too Now I’m not saying that they’ve all come out and show me that, you know, they’ve been touched by God, some of them have come out and gone right back. But I think that they had at least deserve an opportunity to do something.
David Ralph [47:17]
Did you do you think the majority of people end up in prison because of situations more than being just a bad day? Do you think people just naturally make a mistake or they are on a journey like yours, which was very, very slow leading in one direction? Is that the way
Dainhen Butler. [47:39]
I think that in the United States is a very I don’t know what your perception of what the perception is of the United States but mine is a continuous continuously developing. And what I understand about America is it’s a very crowded place in the you know, I love the Fourth of July and firecrackers, but when it boils down to it, this is the country that was stolen from its original People, and this is a country that was built with stolen people. And so when you your your entire foundation is based on stealing in stolen, then I don’t know what else can come out of it. And so with the judicial system, I have no have no trust in it, because let’s just look at, you know, rehabilitation and its definition to rehabilitate an individual means that he was habilitated if there’s a such thing prior to coming into this prison system. Now, if I’m habilitated when I get here, meaning I just broke the law now, Bill, I’m habilitated. And you take me and I do 10 years. That means that to be rehabilitated, I’m exactly where I was prior to my incarceration. So it can’t work. Also take into consideration is this is that when you began to state the livelihoods of certain communities based on the prison population, there are certain people had it not been a prison in certain places and they will be living upon Poverty. So this prison brings jobs to this particular community. So there’s always going to be a prison when they build a new city in the United States, the first thing they build is a jail. Let’s be conscious about that. But I also understand that if you educate the community, if you give them the tools that they need, guess what, they won’t break the law. They won’t break the law, because they’ll begin to understand how the world really works. It won’t be reduced to what they hear on the radio, what they see on the movie, they’ll have an actual example of how the world really works. And that’s not taking place in the United States.
David Ralph [49:41]
So so the American dream that we hear all about, is that a thing of the past is that something that you you believe in or you don’t believe in Dinah?
Dainhen Butler. [49:48]
Now, you know what, I wouldn’t call it the American dream. I would say it’s just a dream. It doesn’t matter where you are with what you got going on. There’s certain elements in life that allow you to To, to tackle obstacles, and I don’t care what they are. And I’m not saying you can’t come to America and do whatever it is that you want to do. What I am saying is that there are certain elements that you have to pay attention to, or you’ll chunk those situations up as to being he just had he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. When that’s not what’s going on right now. It’s so much money being made off college athletes, and it’s so much emphasis put on sports on the high school level that people, kids, parents, they feel as if they don’t make it to the NBA, or the NFL or the MLB that they fail. And when they fail, they feel like failures and failures feel like they need to do something in order to win again, they don’t understand that. You don’t even have to play sports. You can own the team. And a lot of times we condition and United States, we ask people what do you want to do when you grow up? What do you want to Do what do you want to work when you come out of college as a as opposed to asking them? What kind of business do you want to own? Or how do you want to change the world for the better? Or how are you going to change the world for the better. And so I think that and that’s why I have such a disrespect for the our education system, and certain regions because it didn’t prepare us to affect the world. It prepares us to be affected by the world.
David Ralph [51:28]
Let’s play the theme of this show. We call it Join Up Dots based on a speeds that Steve Jobs did back in 2005. And I’m beat I’m gonna be fascinated to see whether these words have any resonance to you with the experiences you’ve had in your life. This is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [51:46]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. Words. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [52:21]
So you’ve had a hell of a journey so far. Did those words mean anything to you?
Dainhen Butler. [52:27]
Oh, without a doubt. Without a doubt, I’m almost and I was just looking at his I think it was a movie with Ashton. Um, and I was just, you know, motivated by his his whole philosophy in reference to life but yeah, very much so. Um, to a degree because when I look when I think about my past, my past is is is my future to one degree or another. And history always repeats itself. So I’m one of those Individuals I’m looking backwards. But I’m also i’m looking, I’m only looking backwards in reference to what’s going to take place in the future.
David Ralph [53:07]
And what would be your big dot then Dane and when you look back on your timeline, because obviously now, you you are giving back to the community big time and I’d recommend all our listeners to seek out the outer adjustment documentary because it is fascinating how you’ve gone full circle, and you’re really you’re going into schools now and helping people and you are a mentor, and you’re doing a life that is just good, and you’re helping people. So what was the big dot that actually started changing you towards that path?
Dainhen Butler. [53:43]
That would be I think I was about 13 No, probably about 14 and 15. And I was in Mr. Mr. Smith’s strings class, and I purposely broke my violin so I would be kicked out of the class. That day, I didn’t know it, but I was making a decision to do what was popular or acceptable. For others. I put my video I put myself my beliefs, my interest to the side. And I began to fully adopt and adapt to what other people thought was what I was supposed to be doing. I wish I would have stayed with my violin, I had a liking towards the cello. I that was that was the point. That was the point because it was an actual physical thing. And it was an action. It was a definite reaction to the action. And it just put me in a world of steel trying to find out what was acceptable to everybody else and adopting to that. When I was in strings. It was very simple. I was quiet. I didn’t have a whole lot of friends when my friends were. I was I was friends with The white kids in class or the Asian kids in class. And basketball allowed me to be friends with everybody. But I grew closer with the blacks because the blacks played basketball. But playing the violin is what I wanted to do. That’s a decision that I made. And so I put myself to the side. And I started doing what everybody else was doing.
David Ralph [55:25]
And what I’m talking about, but that brought you to where you are now Can Can you think of a moment when obviously it was when you was in prison somehow, but you suddenly had that mindset to change and your mom remembers actually seeing a difference. She kept on visiting you and seeing bruises and marks because it was you fighting the system. And then she suddenly saw that your your eyes were different, and you had made a decision to change. Can you remember the dot that actually moved you on to where you are now?
Dainhen Butler. [55:58]
That that was assistant Doctor Panetta, who’s still at UGA, he’s in charge of the debate team at UGA, and UGA at that particular time at one of the best debate teams in the world. And when they came in, and they expose us to debate on that particular level, they gave us topics to discuss that we agree with or we didn’t agree with, I remember us talking about abortion. And so I was given the negative. And so I argue, my my points in the time that I was given and I won, they came back two weeks later, and whatever side you were on, prior to, you had to art I did the negative. Now I had to come back and do the affirmative. So what this allowed me to do what this forced me to do is add the question, everything that I had grown to understand is being truth. And once I was able to question it, I questioned everything around me, every act everything that I did, and I asked myself, why are you doing this? Why are you going To play basketball in a prison, and it’s it’s two libraries here and they’re totally empty. It’s it’s then that I began to question just myself. Why are you fighting? Why are you struggling with this ignorance when you could be moving forward in reference to to your education? And so that.is just being able to look at life from a different perspective, to be able to question self to question your community to question your parents to question your world and come up with your own definition as to how life is supposed to be lived.
David Ralph [57:33]
When I love the fact that you have made those decisions, because there’s no getting away from it, yes, you had a rough time in the middle, but you deserved it because you were doing bad things and there’s no getting away from there. But the fact that you are now got the rest of your life to provide to the world and do things and leave your mark in the right way. It says a lot about you danan and I think you should be very proud how you have changed things around because somebody Many people, by quite simply don’t delay.
Dainhen Butler. [58:03]
A very, very much so and I am proud, but I am very eager to learn more. Because I’ve learned that the more that I learn, the better life becomes, the more I can. The more I’m defined, the more I can assist others and being defined as well.
David Ralph [58:23]
Here here, well, this is the end of the show, and this is the part that we call the Sermon on the mic when I’m going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Dane and what age would you choose, and what advice would you give? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m gonna play the theme and when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Dainhen Butler. [59:06]
My conversation would take place with the 14 year old Dane, the first thing I would tell him is to continue to be yourself. Nevermind that your clothes don’t look like the kids who are popular or whose parents can afford those clothes. You have something very powerful that you’re working with. And that’s your education. And what takes place, or what is about to take place in your life is going to be very helpful for you. You’re going to come across some times and some days where you don’t really know what’s going on. I want you to keep continue to pay attention to what’s going to school, your your education, your mind is what’s going to free you. It’s what’s going to set you apart. I don’t care about the holes in your socks. I don’t care about The shirt this too small nevermind that because the more education you have, the more money you’ll be able to obtain and the more money you’ll be able to obtain the more perceived happiness you’ll be able to gather as well. So I want you to stay in school stay in strange class continue to learn more about the strings world. Don’t try out for the basketball team. Don’t try out for the football team. Stay with debate. Stay with chess, stay with what is ever interesting to you do not adopt the adaptations of other people do what is true to you. Stay true to you and stay true to your education.
David Ralph [1:00:40]
Dana and how can our audience connect with you?
Dainhen Butler. [1:00:43]
They can connect with me You can Google me at danan Butler di NHN last name Butler beauty le R. You can find the alto adjustment DVD. You can Google out to adjustment or you can log on to from nothing to something productions, I’m on Facebook at Damon Butler. Everything else is Dane Butler, Instagram, Twitter, My phone number is 678-891-9690 if I’m unable to be reached by phone I from five days a week, I am at hype, which is harvest time ministries working with at risk teens and Clayton County on Taylor road.
David Ralph [1:01:27]
Thank them. Thank you so much for spending time with us today and joining up those dots and please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures dynam Thank you so much.
Dainhen Butler. [1:01:43]
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices including the two that changed his life. Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.