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Ryan N. Sorensen

Residing In: Draper, UT

Ryan Neil Sorensen
Utah State Pen.
P.O. Box 250
Draper, UT 84020

Dear Class of 1990,
I wish I could be writing you from better circumstances, but due to some decisions on my part I am now serving an 85-year sentence in prison.
On 29 April ’03 I took the life of my father-in-law. It was an act that I have regretted every day. There was no need for it and no excuse. My pride and anger were the cause of it and I wish I could turn back time and realize the consequences of my actions. In a state of rage I forgot about the effects it would have on my family, especially on my daughters, as well as my in-laws, friends and the community. It was a selfish act and one that I am ashamed of.
For six years I was housed at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, WA. My unit was “closed custody” which is WA’s term for maximum security. There is a 20-ft wall surrounding MAX there, so the sky is the only “natural” part of the environment we saw.
After six years I received permission to transfer to Utah to be closer to my parents and family. I arrived here in April and have been in MAX here since then. Utah requires that I spend from 6-18 months in MAX before I can go to general population. It all depends on how I “behave”.
I want to apologize to everyone I have affected with my actions. The “ripple effect” continues to spread and I feel an extreme sense of shame for not being a better example.
In my H. S. years I was an Eagle Scout, Seminary Council President, and Sterling Scholar. I was also a soldier in The Utah National Guard for 13 years, returned missionary, and most important of all, a husband and a father of two beautiful daughters.
You could say I had all the advantages of life. Even so, I fell to my own pride. It has caused a lot of grief and anguish for many people.
Whether you believe in Satan or a dark side, or good and bad, it is easier to fall astray than we think. It happens little by little until we are thoroughly trapped. It can happen to anyone unless you keep up your guard.
The message I want to pass on is if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone unless you actively protect yourself and your family. Everyone is only one poor decision away from coming here.
Prison is a vile place. My eyes have been opened to a way of life I never knew existed. We truly lived in “Happy Valley”. It was a very sheltered environment, but that was also a blessing. We need to give thanks for such a peaceful place to raise our kids.
The stories about prison violence and corruption are true. At times it can be a scary and unpredictable place, especially for someone who didn’t grow up around drugs and crime. It’s an unforgiving environment where one mistake can haunt you forever or even cost you your life.
I plead with each of you to talk to your children and youth about the consequences of disobedience and breaking the law. You don’t become a criminal in one day – you start by taking small steps which lead you on to bigger ones. Even an errant thought can provide the seed for going bad. It’s best to keep far away from evil.
I have met people who want to do bad. I have also met guys, who like myself, are good people who made terrible mistakes. Not everyone in prison is a “hardened criminal”. It’s so easy to make quick judgments, but until we know all of the circumstances we can’t fault everyone who is in prison.
In my case I am guilty. There were contributing factors, but that is no excuse. I accept full responsibility for my actions and know that had I asked for help, there was another way out. My pride and anger got me into trouble and I will forever regret it.
The victims in my case, my in-laws, my ex-wife, and my daughters, plus everyone else I affected deserve my sincere apology.
Even in the most dire cases there is always hope. The Atonement of Jesus Christ has played an integral part in my repentance process. I never understood it until I had to put it to use.
Love your families. Be good to one another. Life is too short not to forgive each other and be happy.
God bless you all and your families.

Ryan Neil Sorensen