Diigo Post Excerpt:
On a summer day in 1980, 19-year-old Andre Davis stepped off a train 125 miles south of his native Chicago. He expected his visit would last the summer. Little did he know he wouldn't return home for more than 30 years.
Andre had just graduated from high school and traveled to the central Illinois town of Rantoul, population 20,000, to learn his father's business. Richard Davis—known as "Crazy Legs" for his brilliant moves on the dance floor—was a disc jockey serving nearby Chanute Air Force Base.
Andre had grown up on Chicago's south side, where he lived with his mother, Emma, who owned a beauty salon. Emma and Richard had divorced when Andre was two, and though Andre didn't see much of his father, he had an extended family to rely on. Andre's grandfather had moved to Chicago from the south in the 1920s, part of the initial Great Migration of African-Americans. He started a corner store and was later successful in real estate. In decades of difficulty for so many blacks, members of the Davis family attended college and went on to lucrative careers. They were, as several of them proudly put it, pillars of the community—lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, teachers, and scholars.
Of all the criminal charges that can land someone in prison, sexual abuse of a child is considered the worst by most inmates and guards. "Everyone's out to get you," Andre says. "Keeping yourself safe is a constant struggle." On top of that, he wanted to assert his will as much as he could, to discourage other prisoners from attacking him and to convince himself that prison hadn't broken him. He says that his constant attempts to protect himself—and to send other prisoners a message—resulted in a mind-set that repeatedly got him in trouble. He racked up one of the longest prison disciplinary records in the state, according to the Chicago Tribune. It eventually caught up with him.