Recently I spoke with Valentino Dixon, and I discovered that he is a man of vision, energy, and perhaps most of all, faith. In prison for 26 years for a crime another man has confessed to seven separate times, he refuses to dwell on the past, and refuses to hold on to hate and anger. Instead he focuses on the future, his family, and his freedom. He is a man that has big plans to lead a simple life, caring for his family and helping others avoid his fate. He wants kids to know there is another way, and another choice they can make to avoid guilty-by-association prison sentences.
Valentino Dixon was already an accomplished artist, but has spent part of his time perfecting his art. He’s even gained some renown in the golfing community for his golf course art, but is eager for people to know that isn’t all he can do. His art ranges from African to modern, abstract to landscapes. I have no doubt he can do whatever he sets his mind to. The word that springs to mind after a conversation with Valentino Dixon is driven. He sets personal goals, and then he works to achieve those goals. In an atmosphere where a lot of men just tread water, doing their time by getting by, Valentino uses his gifts, his discipline and his faith to carry him through.
It’s amazing how much you can cover in a couple of twenty minute phone calls. We spoke of his conviction, the testimony that helped put him in prison, and the play on words used before his trial to bolster the narrative. Things like selling a $10 baggie to a friend, who was caught with it and took the police to Valentino’s door earned him the label of a mid-level drug dealer. He openly acknowledges that he did some things that were on the wrong side of right, and admits some of his choices were not the smartest he could have made. He wants to use those experiences and that knowledge to help young men and women avoid his fate.
We spoke of his mother, and it’s easy to see where he gets his fighting spirit from. She is a three-time cancer survivor, that has also lived with Valentino’s conviction, and has always been his rock. His love and admiration for her shines through every word he speaks. He talked about how proud of his daughter he is, and you can hear the joy in his voice when he speaks of his grandchildren. Having entered into prison as barely more than a kid himself, he has grown and developed into a man that understands the dangers of drugs and violence, and has a desire to protect others from that lifestyle. Even as we talk3ed about his case, and his conviction, there was no sound of rage or anger in his voice. That is not to say he has accepted what has happened, and that he is okay with it. He most definitely isn’t. My take was more that he knew rage and anger wouldn’t get him where he needed to be.
I also learned that he is not only articulate, but well read. He’s read books numbering into the thousands, and has learned something from each one. He keeps up with everything from politics to technology, determined that the world will not leave him behind. This is no mean feat in the New York Department of Corrections system, where inmates still don’t even have access to Jpay email. If you want to write someone in Attica, where he has served most of his time, or at Wende, where he is currently housed, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. It seems counter-intuitive to us now, free on the outside, to limit written communications to long form letters. Electronic communications would reduce the senders ability to send in contraband after all. But for now at least, it is what it is, and he deals with a system that is slow to change by being prepared for the day when it will change.
The most surprising thing I learned about Valentino during these calls is that he doesn’t seek pity. He doesn’t blame others for his plight. He accepts that the lifestyle he chose to lead at that time played a part in putting him there. He looks at his situation objectively, and urges others to do the same thing. I asked him about his commissary, and if he needed money added to cover the calls, or just to get something to eat that wasn’t prison-soy. He refused. I asked him, if he could have the public know one thing about his case what it would be. His answer to that question was the single biggest surprise in our conversation. What Valentino Dixon wants right now, today, is for the public to let the DA know that they are watching, and if the DA feels his new 440 filing has merit, he needs to tell that to the judge. He doesn’t ask for money, for fame, or for a pen-pal girlfriend. Valentino Dixon wants the DA to acknowledge to the judge that his original conviction NEEDS to be questioned. That’s it.
Email contact information for the Erie County District Attorney is hard to come by. It isn’t offered on their website. What is offered is a snail mail address and phone and fax numbers.
- John J. Flynn
- Erie County District Attorney
- 25 Delaware Avenue
- Buffalo, NY 14202
- phone: 716-858-2424
- fax: 716-858-7425
If you feel strongly about this case, reach out and let them know. Let them know that you hope that Mr. Flynn will take a strong stance with the judge if he feels the latest filing has merit. Let them know you are aware of this case, and that you are watching.
While Valentino has refused offers for money to his commissary account, I think you should know that he does have art prints and original pieces for sale. This is not a man asking for a handout. This is an artist that works hard for the money he earns to help care for himself and his family. If you are interested in obtaining prints or original pieces, you may do so here.
As always, if you have any questions, you can contact us here. We will be continuing with Valentino Dixon’s story in the coming weeks. We hope you join us!