Wille: `Aspen is like a scarlet letter’
Editor’s note: Cody Wille, convicted of participating in a crime spree in the Aspen and Snowmass area in 1999, is currently serving a three-year sentence in the Youthful Offenders Services facility in Pueblo.
He has agreed to periodically send letters to the community, which will all be published in The Aspen Times. For people interested in writing him, his address is: YOS; Cody Wille, #104-108; 1401 West 17th St., Pueblo, CO, 81003.
Some of the topics discussed in this letter might be offensive to younger readers.
It has been another week since I last wrote. This week has been different, however.
I got moved out of boot camp and into Phase 1. Phase 1 is kind of like a boarding school; I live in a building with 60 other inmates. The building is separated into four pods, each pod houses 15. The pods have three two-man rooms and two four-man rooms. We go to school Monday through Friday and are allowed to rest on the weekends.
The life in Phase 1 is a lot better than Boot Camp. This program is based on levels. The first level is Orientation; that is the level I’m on. The next level is Peer, then Positive Peer, then Pledge 1, Pledge 2, 3, 4, and finally Phoenix level. If at any time you screw up in the slightest bit you go back to Boot Camp for 7-28 days and start back at Peer.
It takes 28 days and certain requirements to progress to the next level. I’m in building 113; it is the hardest building. Building 113 is where they send all of the hardened criminals, and the gangsters.
They asked me if I would be willing to go in there and try and help. I scored extremely low on my risk-assessment levels, so they figured that by sending me here maybe I could help change people.
In the short time that I’ve been here I’ve realized that none of these kids really wants to change. They think that carrying a gun and killing people from other gangs is what life is all about. When I asked one of my cell mates, who has been here for two years, if he has changed, he said, “Well, yeah, I don’t beat up nearly as many kids as I used to.”
Then I asked if he was going to do the same stuff when he gets out. He said, “I ain’t never going to change.” That seems to be the mindset of most of the kids at YOS.
I also now know that there is no way I can be of any influence on these kids. Coming from Aspen is like a scarlet letter here. I don’t blend in, I don’t talk like anyone here, and I don’t know the kind of lifestyle these kids are used to. If I were to say that I thought gangs were stupid and unnecessary I would be beaten severely or possibly raped.
I didn’t know until just now, while writing this letter, that people have been raped here. My cell mate just told me the most gruesome stories about times he has seen and participated in rapes. He also told me about how, when it’s your birthday or you piss someone off, you get something called “the roller coaster.”
A roller coaster is when everyone in the pod holds you down, then beats the hell out of you, and after they are done kicking your ass, they will take a shampoo bottle and put it in your ass. That was the nice way to put it, too.
I think I’m going to take the advice that one of my drill instructors gave me. He said: “Mr. Wille, you’re a very squared away individual and have a lot going for you. When you go down the hill [to Phase 1], keep to yourself. I just pray that this place doesn’t hurt you more than it can possibly help.”
Well, my time is up for this week, but I’ll write again soon. Thanks for listening and I hope you can remember what I’ve said, just in case you too decide to do something stupid.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius
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