praises to the name of Jesus.
My name is
Robert Alexander and I would like to share a
marvelous testimony of God's grace and mercy.
I was a prison
guard in New York State's
Attica Prison from 1973 to 1981. In
1978 I was working on a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice
at Rochester Institute of Technology.
At that time a new
inmate came to Attica--his name was David
Berkowitz, the "Son
of Sam" murderer that had terrorized New
York City. My job at
Attica was to supervise the inmates who shoveled the coal from
train cars into the powerhouse. They
were called the "Coal
Gang." I also covered the breakfast
and noon meal in the tear
gas booth overlooking the mess hall.
After the noon meal was
over I would leave the Coal Gang inmates in their cells or let
them go to the exercise recreation yard while I wold go to talk
to David. What better scientific
laboratory for my college
psychology courses could there be than Attica
inmates--especially David Berkowitz.
I spent many, many hours
talking to David. I saw his struggle
with the occult forces
that plagued him. Have you ever
looked into the face of evil?
Not many people have ever scared me physically or spiritually,
but David scared me spiritually. I
wasn't a Christian and had
little knowledge of the occult and satanism but I could see the
effect it had on David. When
he first came to Attica he
struggled but was able to control the demons within him. He
would show me the letters that satan worshippers would send
him. Most of the letters had
the blood of people--including
babies--sacrificed on satanic altars.
was there when an inmate cut David's throat. In fact, I
comforted him at our prison hospital as the nurse stitched his
throat. The fact is, the inmate
tht cut his throat was a
former Coal Gang inmate.
Over a period of two years I saw David slip into satanic
despair and torment. He would
howl and was engulfed in porno
literature. He digressed out
of control. David was so demonic,
we started to call him--David "Berserkowitz".
transferred him out of Attica to Clinton
Prison, far up in the
Adirondack Mountains. I lost contact with David after his
transfer. In 1981 I had finished
my Master's Degree in
Counseling and became a counselor at the prison. You were in
the minority if you had a Master's Degree at Attica. I was
excited about being a counselor. When
you've been a guard for
eight years you don't get much satisfaction out of coming home
and saying, "Only five men got raped today, only three stabbed,
only seven fights and only one went crazy, but no one escaped,
boy, did I have a great day!!!" I
always felt I owed most of
my Degree to the inmates of the Coal Gang, especially David.
They were my test lab for all the psychological theories.
We had another famous inmate come to Attica
in 1981 (just when I had become a counselor.) His name
was Mark David Chapman. Most people know that he was the
man who shot John
Lennon, of the Beatles. Since
I was the only person with a Master's Degree in counseling I was assigned to counsel Mark.
It was great to decrease my 225 man case load to one person.
As I worked with Mark over a period of time, I got to know his wife,
Gloria, who had moved to Attica from Hawaii. Counseling
Mark was extremely interesting and very challenging, Mark shared that he was a Christian and had lead his wife (who had been
involved in the occult) to Christ.
I knew a lot about Jesus in my head since my stepmother and
most of her family were Christians, but I didn't know Jesus
personally. The fact was that I was an extremely high
functioning alcoholic. I wondered
how a criminal like Mark David Chapman could be a Christian.
My wife, Gerry, knew that I was counseling Mark but thought I was crazy when I called
tae Billy Graham crusade (that happened to be on TV that evening)
to ask if they had anything to help me counsel with a Christian inmate. My wife had a religion, but not personal relationship with Christ. Gerry though Billy Graham was a
"screaming mimi!" She
said, "I can't stand those Baptist screamers." She just shook her
head as I let them pray for me and take our address to send the literature.
in strange and mysterious ways--His wonders to perform.! A
few days later Mark told me he wanted a new counselor because of a disagreement we had. I told him, "That's fine" and went back to a regular case load. In the
meantime I mentioned to my wife that I wasn't counseling Mark anymore.
A few days later the envelope from Billy Graham was delivered to our house. My wife tossed the envelope in the
kitchen trash, knowing that I no longer needed the information.
For the rest of the day she threw things on top of the envelope
in the trash. Every time she
went by the trash it called out to her in her spirit and she finally picked it up and opened it. She pulled out all the material and was led to open the Gospel
of John that was tucked inside. My little wife read the
entire Book of John; got on her knees, repented, and asked
Jesus to save her. Werever I
go to speak, I tell every man that if he wife gets saved and starts to pray for him, he might as
well give up because she won't shut up! The fervent prayer
of a righteous wife availeth much. She
prayed for me for three years. God finally brought me to my knees and I came to Jesus in
1986, praise God!
Not long after I was saved I
saw Mark in the exercise yard and he asked me if I had become a Christian, because he heard that
"Alexander" had gotten religion. He told me it was all over
the prison how I would praise God and tell everyone about Jesus.
Mark shared that he had heard from Don Dickerman that David Berkowitz had been gloriously
saved. Mark asked Don to send me David's testimony. I put it in my desk and told Mark that I wold "time test"
David's salvation since I had seen hundreds of jailhouse conversions. That
testimony was in my
desk intil two years ago when I wrote to David and shared my testimony.
I have since had the privilege of visiting David at
Sullivan Prison and I can attest to the change in David's heart. Once, at Attica prison, I looked in to his eyes and
saw the darkest evil I have ever encountered. I remember the first time
I saw David again at Sullivan. I was looking into a new
man in Christ--a man with peace, peace that passes all understanding. Once where I could only see darkness and demons I could
now see David was overflowing with rivers of living
water. We currently have the
most wonderful fellowship in JESUS CHRIST. The lost inmate
and the lost guard---together---both praising our Savior!
I hope this testimony lifts and encourages your heart.