Archive for March 8th, 2011

March 8, 2011

Raised Up — Action Words by Frances L. McDaniel

My name is Frances L. (Roberson) McDaniel. But, everyone calls me “Bootsy”. Only, in terms of history, a portion of my classmates calls me Frances. I actually prefer Bootsy.

I thought that I would go into the Marines. That was one of my childhood dreams. People would probably never have believed that. At any rate, I became pregnant at 16-years old and I chose to keep my daughter when, during the pregnancy, I felt her kick inside. I was determined to take care of her no matter what.

I began committing crimes at a young age; I’ve truly forgotten how old I was. I wasn’t using drugs. Money was something that drove me and having more things all the time. I bought my first car and I never had a driver’s license. Amazing. Before I write further, I want to say that I come from an amazing mother. I wasn’t raised in the projects. Actually, I grew up in Grosbeck; if you are from Cincinnati, Ohio, you probably know about the suburbs. Then, as I became a little older, I was raised in Madisonville, in a nice neighborhood at that time.

My mother took really good care of her girls. The only complaint I can honestly say is that we had to wear dresses summer, winter, spring, and fall. Church was mandatory. We never were hungry. So, basically, what I am saying is that I have no excuse for the life I lead. Checks were my main crime of choice. I’ve never been violent – except only toward myself. Eventually, I started using drugs because I knew what I was doing was wrong, and I used drugs to cover up.

I became addicted to all the bad habits. Now, I sit in a federal prison because I just committed crimes to live my life. Don’t get me wrong. I have worked before, but I never held a steady job for long periods. I slowed down temporarily, got married, and thought I was going to live normally. However, Satan had plans.

I started committing crimes a little at a time. Finally, my life started falling apart, so I separated my children and left town with my youngest. I left my husband; I thought that was better. The good thing was that when I left, I worked hard in three jobs at one time. But, I was alone: only myself and my baby girl. Eventually, things turned bad and I had to bring my baby home. Then I left Cincinnati again. I was doing this because I didn’t want to go to jail, being alone in a state where I didn’t have any family and friends. I didn’t turn to crime as a result of an abusive man and then drugs. I had never been hit by a man, so I thought he would not hit me again – he promised. But, it was a vicious cycle. (I’m doing a lot of jumping around, because life my life would probably make a best-seller.)

God made it to where my testimony is worth telling, and he’s not finished with me yet. I’ve lived in several different cities and states. When I lived in South Carolina (Edgefield), I lived on a couple of migrant camps. Well, I was stabbed four times in the back and the side of my face. I lived to tell about it. I don’t know why it happened. But, God was with me.

I’ve been put in dangerous situations that only God pulled me through. When I came home, I started back in the game and lived inside of jail and outside. That was my life: drugs, money, and jail. It came to a point in my life where I tried to take my own life in a crazy way. I’m here to talk about it. I stabbed myself in the stomach so many times I lost count, and I cut my wrists. But for some reason I just wouldn’t die.

Now, that was who I was ten years ago. In 2006 I started my madness over again and I decided that I didn’t want to live. I bought a gun and every day I sat with it on my bed loaded. My only reason I’m not dead is that I lived with my daughter, and my son decided he wanted to be up under me, too. My life was crazy and I was so tired.

Well, I’m in prison. All the things I was out there doing caught up with me. So, God placed me here to save my life. I’m sitting in prison today, in late 2010, and my life has changed drastically. I’m over the prison’s dance ministry called “New Generation”. I’m also active in the choir and praise team. I work at Unicor; it is a call center. My work as a volunteer in Hospice has truly opened my eyes to how cruel life can be.

I have taken different classes while here in prison. I’m starting my G.E.D. program over again. I’m very determined to accomplish that goal. I’m 44-years old and I’ve learned how to stomp and praise dance. I’ve lost a lot of weight and my health is improving all because of God’s grace.

So, this is a little about myself. I have a living testimony, and I truly hope that something in my life will help someone.

I appreciate the Bible verse, Romans 9:17 – “I have raised you up for this very purpose of displaying my power in dealing with you, so that my name may be proclaimed the whole world over.”

God has a plan and purpose for my life and I’m waiting. During this process he is raising me up to do great things.

March 8, 2011

PILE DRIVEN – PART IV by Brian Crawford

PILE  DRIVEN – PART IV: “Empowered by Change”

Action Words – Essay by Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

I present the new installment of my series, Pile Driven: Empowered by Change.

It’s May, 2010, and I’m now at Marion Correctional Institution. Since I last wrote “Pile Driven – Part III,” I have undergone a lot of change. My security status dropped and I was moved from one of Ohio’s toughest prisons to one of Ohio’s safest and most religious prisons. This has been after two-and-a-half years of praying that the Lord would lead me down a safe path in what has ultimately been his plan for me.

I felt upon leaving Southern Ohio Correctional Facility that my work was done. Many lives changed there as a part of the work I did for the Lord. I now leave behind many good brothers to continue the Lord’s work. As for me, I knew I had to embrace this change and the good at my new home at M.C.I.

As my feet were shackled and my hands were cuffed to my waist, I sat quietly in the back of a prison bus with tears streaming down my face as I saw God’s beauty outside the walls of Lucasville. I talked to God and asked him to one day set me free and let the truth of my innocence be known.

At that moment I also knew that I had to focus on God’s will for me at M.C.I. once I arrived. All I could think about was the chapel. After all, to me, that is the most peaceful place in prison. I had always heard so much about chapel services at M.C.I. and I was so ready to see the reality of it. In my essays, “Pile Driven #1, 2, and 3,” I spoke of the ups and downs of attendance of guys at S.O.C.F.  Many times it was dark and discouraging due to the small number of inmates attending. However, don’t get me wrong, because at times  those few guys brought so many blessings and we would worship the Lord as if there were hundreds attending.

So, then, the day was here: my first Sunday at M.C.I. chapel services. I grabbed my Bible and made my way to the chapel, feeling the butterflies in my stomach. I could hear a choir singing and music playing as I got ever so close to those double doors. Finally, I was there. I opened the doors to see a chapel packed full, wall to wall with inmates praising God, smiling, and singing.

I felt a lump in my throat as I found a seat. My emotions immediately took over as I felt the Holy Spirit. I felt as if I was home again at a regular church. The choir continued to sing and I felt free at that point and tears rolled down my face. I knew after that service that I was right on track for what God has in store for me.

Change is never easy and I’ve had many things to overcome and still deal with on a daily basis, but when each day is over I can close my eyes and say, “Thank the Lord for another day of my life and a chance to serve you.” My mission is now here at M.C.I. and there are still many out there that need to know God loves them and they can be saved. Although this innocent man that I am still suffers, I know I must embrace this change and keep living for God.

My faith is growing in my heart and mind every day. No matter where I go, I will surround myself with good and walk away from evil. Oh, it’s not all “peaches and cream.” Satan is not happy with me right now and he tries to tempt me all the time. When he does, I just smile and say, “Nice try. But you lose.” Now, of course, the devil will not stop trying to ruin my days, but I look at it this way: I’m a child of the Most High God and my God will not allow Satan to do anything to me without his permission. If something would happen I can always go back and look at what Job went through in the Bible and know it was or is a test. I will pass the test! I’m not afraid anymore!

Now, some days I watch television and I see our world heading toward Bible prophecy and I do worry. I wish many more people would give their lives to Jesus before it’s too late. I’m only one man and I know I cannot help them all, but if I can just keep proving my walk – that God is real – then I’ve done my job. I fought the good fight and will be ready to go with my Christian brothers and sisters to be with our Lord in heaven.

So, what about you? If you’re out there and you don’t know the Lord as your savior, as yourself a question: If I died today, where would I go? Some people say they don’t believe in anything, but think about it. Would you rather die believing in something and know you did good in this world, or would you want to die believing in nothing and possibly face horrible consequences in the afterlife? I think the answer is easy. If you’re out there and going through chance, then “embrace it” – put God first in your life and the rest is easy.

Thank you for reading my words in this essay and God bless you all.

Read other stories by Brian Crawford:

Pile Driven— Part I
Pile Driven—Part II
Pile Driven—Part III


Editor’s note: visit  for further information on supporters of Brian Crawford’s case.  Mr. Crawford has been a dedicated writer and contributor to RED! the breakthrough ‘zine since 2008. We urge you to read his other work, including parts 1,2, and 3 of his PILE DRIVEN series. He is incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution.