Rushville resident Danny Wright has, in a way, lived three lives: the one he lived prior to 2003, the one others perceived he lived at that time, and the life that is stretched out before him now.
In order to get a better perspective of Wright one has to start backward before looking to the man’s future.
After serving more than five years behind bars, Wright was recently released from prison; however, that is only one chapter of the story.
In June 2004, Wright was sentenced to 30 years behind bars after being convicted of multiple felony drug charges: possession of cocaine, selling cocaine and possession of marijuana.
Ironically, prior to his January 2003 arrest Wright had never been in trouble with the law or arrested, by most people’s standards had lived a good life. Before that fateful night, however, Wright knew his life was spiraling down a destructive path.
Today, in looking back, he doubts that he would have had the ability to make much needed life altering changes without the intervention. As he puts it, “I would probably have been dead by now.” But now we are getting ahead of he story.
From as far back as the Rushville man can remember he always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. While growing up in the “west end” during the 1970s and 1980s he always felt that he was perceived differently from others and had to live by a different set of rules than those that grew up on the “other side of the tracks.”
The middle child of five children of Nannie B. and Harold (Buzz) Wright, Danny looks back favorably on his childhood and the upbringing he received from his parents — until his teenage years when, as he put it, he got mixed up with the “wrong crowd.”
Although his life took a number of unexpected turns Wright said a few individuals tried to keep him on the straight and narrow path, albeit with little success at the time. He cited Charlie Farthing, Chet Walker and Frank Thomas as doing their best to keep him focused long-term on the road of life, but he said that he just wasn’t ready to listen at that stage of his life.
“I did a lot of bad things (back then) that I regret today. Around the age of 14 I started hanging out with the wrong people and began using marijuana and alcohol.”
During his junior year of high school Wright decided that he could forge his own path in life and dropped out of school and began working for Boggs Roofing. A few years later, at the age of 18, he began working at Knauf Insulation in Shelbyville, a job he held for 23 years until his arrest.
“Even while working there (Knauf) and not calling off work I continued using drugs and alcohol. It got to the point that I wanted to be ‘the man.’ I began supplying many people in central and southeastern Indiana with drugs and alcohol. I began to feel that I was a man in control. People looked up to me. I led two different life styles — the one most people saw, I worked hard, had my own business, was good to my family, took care of my children and friends — and then I had the other side of my life. The person that liked to play, and when it came time to play I liked to play.”
The father of two, Wright has a daughter from his first marriage and a son from his second. He also has a stepdaughter from a current relationship. He’s proud of his offsprings’ accomplishments; his daughter has two children and his son is a U.S. Marine.
“I am blessed that my kids all turned out okay and did not follow in my footsteps,” he said.
The night of his arrest, Wright became acutely aware that change in his life was imminent. He came to the startling realization that he faced two choices: to fight the system or to begin walking a far different path from the one he was on.
“When I got busted in 2003 I knew it was time to make a change. At that time I realized that there was only one thing to do, accept the Lord into my life. For the first time that meant putting my fate in the hands of someone other than me.”
He was well aware that difficult days and the possibility of extended years behind bars were ahead. With that in mind, he began to change how he looked at life.
In March 2004, prior to his trial on the drug charges, Wright unconditionally accepted the Lord into his life and was baptized at a church in Greensburg where he is still a member.
In May 2004, following a two day trial, then 41, Wright’s future was in the hands of a jury. He was subsequently found guilty and sentenced in June of that year to 30 years behind bars.
“That was a life changing experience for me right there. I was convicted and given a 30 year sentence. I learned shortly after arriving in prison that I could get bitter or I could get better. I chose the latter, knowing this was an opportunity to finally better myself.”
He said that up and until then the reality of where he was going hadn’t completely soaked in and that he still harbored the thought that he was tough, a belief that changed shortly after he arrived at prison.
“Once that door locked behind me, it didn’t take long. They broke me down quick. I would not wish that on anyone. I didn’t know if I would ever see my mother on the outside ever again. Prison is a horrible way of life!”
Wright immediately began to work on time cuts; he got his GED and then began taking college classes and earned an associate degree in General Arts.
When asked his thoughts of being arrested and busted for drugs, Wright thought for a moment and chose his words carefully.
“At first I was very angry and upset. Now that I reflect back on it, I am grateful. I want to thank the judge, the prosecutor and the police officers. They were just doing their jobs and I would probably be dead right now if that had not happened. There are a lot of people that I dealt drugs to and a lot of others who I thought were my friends that are not here anymore. Being arrested saved my life.”
Once released from prison, Wright found that he faced new challenges. His life is still not completely his own although he has many privileges that were taken away while he was incarcerated.
He has found a new appreciation for his freedoms, although for the next 10 years he will be subject to random drug tests and visits from the probation department at his home. Even with those stipulations he feels blessed.
“I was a little nervous, but never scared when I was released. Today, I keep the Lord at the first place in my life and I take my sobriety very seriously. I want to share my experiences and strength in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) with young people, schools, churches and groups and anyone that will listen to detour others from going down the path I went down.”
Though older and wiser now in many ways, Wright was quick to point out that the drug problem locally did not go away just because he was arrested and sent to prison.
“We have a real problem with drugs here in Rush County with meth, heroin, cocaine and marijuana. In my neighborhood, I am more observant than ever to the problem. My message is clear. Don’t start using drugs and that the youth of today need a higher power in their life than themselves, whether it be looking up to their parents or God or even participating in sports. I can tell you from experience it doesn’t take too much unsupervised idle time to make poor decisions.”
In closing Wright said that he is looking forward, not back.
“I look forward to what the future holds and getting my roofing business back off the ground. I’ve learned that there are no ‘do overs’ in life and that I have to pick up the pieces from here and move forward. One of my best thoughts is that it is good to live a clean and sober lifestyle. I take my sobriety very seriously one day at a time.”
Frank Denzler can be contacted at (765) 932-2222 ext. 106 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To add a comment to this story visit our Web site at www.rushvillerepublican.com.