Common Ground

by James Dayton
June 2008


I was talking with a Christian brother one recent morning and in our conversation he made fun of a youngster that just came in.

I could see the fear and confusion on the young man’s face and could understand what he was feeling.

I reminded the brother that not long ago he was that young frightened man, and everyone thought he was lame, and how brothers reached out to him, helped him adjust, showed him kindness and understanding, prayed for him and his family, and shared the love of Christ with him.

I reminded him how different he and I were, but when we put Christ in it, we had a common ground. Christ took us past who we were and showed us that we each had something for the other.

I’m glad to say after our conversation that he went and reached out to that youngster. I watched as they talked and I could see the young man grow in confidence.

As Christian men and women, our love of Christ and duty to others must override our worldly judgments. There are no lames. There are only men and women needing the love of Christ.

So, when you see that 95-pound, green-haired youngster and you think that you’re a world apart, put Christ in it and you’ll see just how much you are alike.

When you see that scared frightened youngster who is overwhelmed by his surroundings, reach out to him and watch him or her grow.

It doesn’t matter how much time we’ve done. At one point, we’ve all needed someone. Brothers and sisters, be that someone, be that hand that reaches out and see how God will bless you.  The love of Christ will bring us all together.

No lames. Just brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. One body.


The Miracle: How Far I Have Come
by James Dayton


My name is Jimmy D. I’m 44-years old and have spend years in prison: Chino, Folsom, San Quentin, Corcoran, Pelican Bay, Soledad, and now Marion Correctional Institution. I’ve been a member of the Aryan Brotherhood since 1985 and spent over eight years in the hole. I’ve committed a number of stabbings and violence that most people wouldn’t understand. I took part in dogfights in Corcoran S.H.U., committed twenty-seven assaults on black me and was shot by a prison guard – in one year.

In Pelican Bay, I went over seven months without talking, not because I took a vow of silence, but because I was the only white man in my pod. I refused to lower myself to talk to what I looked at as dirty sub-humans.

My younger brother is doing a life-term in California and my son is doing eleven years there for a hate crime. I was in Pelican Bay when I found out my son was busted for almost killing two gay black men. I remember how I felt. I felt proud; proud that my son was fighting the good fight, proud that he was standing for white morals.

I tell you these things so you can understand how far from God I was. How I lived “hate” and acted upon it. How my sense of pride, honor, loyalty, respect, and power was corrupt and evil.

When I was paroled from Pelican Bay, I came to Lodi, Ohio where the struggle is still fought. Not like it was, but still alive. I picked up four more years for robbery/kidnapping. When I got to Median County Jail, I picked up where I left off in California.

I mandated a mandatory exercise regiment everyday. I took 20 percent of every game going. I built a little army and used it for whatever I wanted.

When I got to Lorain, I was stunned. Prisons in Ohio are nothing like prisons in California. No guns, black folks living with white men; I felt like a kid in a candy store. Right away, I started to organize brothers; I stirred the pot, caused havoc and unrest. I loved every minute of it.

Then they shipped me to Marion. When I first got here I saw that it was built just like Soledad, and I felt like I’d been here before. I started looking for brothers. A guy pointed me at “Irish” Johnny [John Harvey], so I jammed him. He walked with me and listened to all my madness. We talked of pride, honor, loyalty, brotherhood, sacrifice, and power. I knew right then, with this brother by my side, we could slay dragons and make kings bow down.



Then, just before yard call, Irish Johnny pulled his hole card and started talking about this Jesus dude who was the “King of Kings.” A warrior for the good of all and the only king he bowed to. I was set back and couldn’t understand. Leaving me with that, he said he would see me the following day and went back in.

That night, I asked some peckerwoods about him. They said he was a good brother and a Christian. It was conflicting to me; I couldn’t understand, so I was determined to find out this dude’s game.

At first, I thought he was hiding something. He continued to talk about Jesus and what He had done for him. Then one day he asked me how many of my brothers would die for me, get beat for me, be dragged through the streets being beaten and spit upon? How many would do this for me just because they loved me? He said these things with such passion and conviction that I felt it in my heart.

This man had no game, was no coward, wasn’t hiding from anything or anyone and was surely no sell-out.

Over the weeks, Johnny taught me so much. He asked to disciple me, and I wanted him to. I learned amazing things and started to change. I asked the Lord into my heart and repented for my sins. I prayed and Johnny prayed with me and for me. I started to feel a peace inside. I started to study the Bible and learn about baptism. I knew I needed to be baptized.

Well, Median County came and took me back to the county jail. When I got there I wasn’t the same man that left months earlier. I started talking to an A.B. brother about Jesus. Then I heard another brother say, “Check out Jimmy, he used to run things, now he’s a Jesus freak and a coward.” I let old demons back in and I beat him to the ground. In doing so, I took Officer Moon down also. It took four officers to get me off of him.

The next morning, God sent another Christian, a woman officer who came to search my cell. She went in and all that was there was a Bible. She asked me where I came from and I said, “Marion.” She started to talk about God and Warden Money, and she asked if I knew Irish Johnny. She talked about how he helped her husband. She told me her husband was here and all that the Lord had done for them. I fasted and prayed for the next 24 hours, and the Lord put it on my heart to be baptized.

When I got back to Marion, I told Johnny what had happened and that I needed to be baptized. He said to fill out a kite [an “inmate request form”] to Reverend K., which I did, but it wasn’t answered. I prayed on it. God said, “Now.” I got to see Rev. K. and he said not to worry about it; I’d be on a list. I prayed more and studied more. I talked to Johnny again and told him what the Lord put on my heart. That it was Johnny who was supposed to baptize me and it had to be done soon. He understood the urgency.

I don’t care what anyone says about that day because I know this: it wasn’t fear that pushed me to be baptized that day. It was obedience to God and Scripture. As I lay in that water, something amazing happened. I felt warmth, a love I have never felt or known before. When I came out I was crying. I haven’t cried in over six years. I’ve never cried tears of joy, but tears of joy ran down my face. I spoke words that I didn’t understand, but felt their meaning. The Lord took away my pain, a pain that has been in my heart for as long as I can remember. That day, in that pond, the Lord gave me a new life! All glory to God! I thank Johnny and Dave for their obedience to God. The Lord made me new and I’ll forever be grateful.

I’m 44-years old and I’ve never even carried on a conversation with a black man before now. Today, a man of color teaches me the Word of God and I love him like my own family. God put me here with Johnny because He knew that he was the only person that could bring me to the Lord!

People can say and do what they want, but no one can take away what happened that day. No one can take away what the Lord has blessed me with.