Naturally, he wanted out, knowing that it would never happen realistically. Officials told him he’d never get out. Then came the impossible that shocked everyone, especially Rickie.

A Book that Tells About the Resilience of the Human Spirit

Real Prison Real Freedom takes a look at the life of inmate Rickie Smith. Rickie had an average childhood during the 1950s. But what he wanted most was the love and attention of his father. Although his father never seemed to take much interest in Rickie. As a teenager, Rickie turned more often to drugs and crime. His criminal activity led to him receiving a ten-year prison sentence. But his violent behavior inside prison, where he stabbed an inmate and correctional officers, resulted in three other sentences of ninety-nine years each. One day he realized he needed to find peace. He did this by turning to God.  

The story of Rickie Smith is an excellent place to start if you want to understand what makes a person become a violent criminal.

Rickie, born in 1954, was adopted as an infant by Red Smith and Selestia. As parents, his father was emotionally and physically abusive, while his mother was overindulgent and enabling. Both parents had in common that all disputes were resolved by violence, most often fueled by alcohol. In addition to a dysfunctional family, Rickie had dyslexia and stopped going to school in grade eight.

His crime life began with burglaries but later rocketed to drug trafficking. His relationships were short and misogynistic. Rickie’s so-called personal code of honor was the only trait resembling self-esteem: “These people are, for sure, gonna respect me.” These people referred to everyone, including his fellow inmates, criminal associates, and particularly the guards and prison administration. Understandably, Rickie equated fear with respect.

By 1990, Rickie had served three ninety-nine-year sentences and fought a war on three fronts. These include the Aryan Brotherhood against competing gangs, especially the Mandingo Warriors, the dominant Black inmate gang. Second, he was engaged in the Aryan Brotherhood over personal and leadership conflicts. The third was against the system and the guards. He had rightly gained the title of the most dangerous man in the Texas Department of Corrections.

Miserable, filled with anger and hatred, and with no hope, he picked up an old Bible and read the passage, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Rest was what Rickie longed for. Thus, he asked Jesus for it, and it was granted. Rickie Smith became a Christian, preaching and living the gospel from that day forward.

Included in this enthralling story about the resilience of the human spirit is a comprehensive account of the significant changes the Texas Department of Corrections went through during this time. Whether you realize Ricky Smith’s life was unbearable and had to change or attribute his transformation to accepting Jesus is a personal choice. Still, there is no denying that the gospel was the blueprint to finding his way back to humanity. His execution of Christian principles has affected a groundbreaking shift in his life. With this, he influenced the faith of many others.

More Than A Story of One Man’s Struggles

This book about the prison system is more than a story about one man’s struggle. It also charts the troubled state of the Texas Prison System. McDonald gives an up-close look at the violence and gang wars that plagued the prison system. He also details the work done to reform the system. Getting to know the stories of people like Captain Price and Bob Norris, who reached out to Rickie by sharing views on religion, made this a much more informative tale. The author examined why he felt Rickie’s life had taken a particular path without making excuses for his behavior. And despite all the wrong choices Rickie made, he seemed to have a sense of love and loyalty to his friends, especially his mother. It might be that the anger and rage he felt in prison did more harm to him in the long run than anything in his early life. Rosser’s conditions in prison were harsh and inhumane, making it hard to imagine how prisoners coped. However, most readers will be happy that Rickie finally decided to let go of the anger and turn his life toward a new path that involved serving a higher good. The author provided a compassionate and insightful story of how a man was able to change his life and outlook despite his environment and circumstances.

Who is Rosser McDonald?

While “Real Prison Real Freedom” was the first book of Rosser McDonald, he was long before an experienced writer. A catalytic career change that would propel him into unprecedented success started when he left his career as a seismographer in 1965. His career included sixteen years reporting news on TV in Texas and Oklahoma, then a twenty-eight-year as a producer at the Radio and Television Commission, SBC. 

McDonald enhanced his craft for in-depth coverage in Dallas and started making documentaries. His award-winning documentary “Set Free” covers Texas prison systems hosted by Tom Landry. This allowed him to meet and form friendships with multiple hardened inmates. This includes Rickie Smith, who would become the subject of his debut book, “Real Prison Real Freedom.”

Today, McDonald is retired from the news and radio industry but continues to correspond with his friends in prison and works with Christian filmmakers in his spare time. He also cherishes his time with his wife, Glenda, a life-long musician on piano and organ.