When I first started covering Daniel Holtzclaw, all I knew about him was what the media portrayed. Early media reports were horribly derogatory, finding fault with everything from his looks to his faith. If there was a way to spin something to play against Daniel, the media did it. What little bit the media didn’t spin, the social justice mob warriors did. If I had relied solely on this, I would be left believing that Daniel Holtzclaw was more evil than Charles Manson, and more predatory than Kevin Coe.
More recent coverage sheds Daniel Holtzclaw in a better light. The more questions arise about the reliability of his conviction, the more the media is stepping away from the once bleak image they used to portray. I wanted to get to know the real Daniel Holtzclaw, and not the one the media decided we need to know. I decided to write to Daniel, to try to get to know him a little better. Writing to an inmate in protective custody isn’t as easy as one might think. Daniel is being held in an undisclosed location, under a different name. You can’t just pull him up on the DOC website and get an address.
Once the hurdles of actually writing him were cleared, I faced a different type of hurdle. I am a terrible pen-pal type of person. I’m more of a quick email on the fly kind of girl. So it took a lot self-discipline to try to pull this off. There are compromises for sure. I can send a letter via snail mail for the cost of a stamp, that may take weeks to get to him. Or I can actually email him for the cost of a stamp per page that usually gets to him in about 48 hours. So far I have been choosing the email route for the convenience. I have to admit, it burns me up to have to pay per page though.
The email system charges family and friends that want to keep in touch. It just seems wrong to me. On the other hand, snail mail can take forever, and there’s not exactly anyone to complain to about that either. The bottom line is that corresponding with an inmate is certainly not made simple, and the family and friends are the ones hat suffer for it. It’s all about the profit margin, I suppose. That’s what happens with privatized prisons.
After several weeks, I’ve learned a little about Daniel. One thing I can tell you for sure is that Daniel is a worse correspondent than I am. I get the distinct feeling he is not a letter writer at all. I can’t blame him though. He left a world where emails and text messages were common modes of communication. He now sits in a world where he has to type out letters, or write in longhand. Even though I can email him, he cannot email back. (Another flaw in that system, but I’ve vented enough) So I can’t blame him for the lack of mail. I can honestly say that if I had to write letters like that, people wouldn’t hear from me a lot either.
Daniel is still getting acclimated, too. He is beginning to accept that the system he supported is the same one that failed him. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but he’s doing his best. His faith remains strong, though. It helps him to get through. He wants people to know that he wasn’t the bodybuilding lunkhead the media made him out to be. His exercise isn’t for vanity, but for health. He seems to genuinely enjoy people, and having fun. His love and faith in his family is deep and unwavering.
Surprisingly for such a big guy, he has a sensitive side that a few people outside his family have gotten to see. That works against him now, understandably. He’s had to harden some, and worries that this will change who he is at his core. He’s learning to accept that his life was laid open for the public. The loss of privacy is something he’s learning to get used to as well.
The bottom line is there is a lot more going on than meets they eye. Some of it is unexpected, some poignant, some painful. All of it though, everything that makes up Daniel Holtzclaw, maintains his innocence. His one hope remains, as it has since this started, for people to seek out the truth. He wants people to know he is innocent. He wants people to no longer believe that he is the monster he was portrayed to be. He’s just a normal guy that wants a normal life. He’s just Daniel.