I’ve finally moved from CRC (correctional reception center) to my parent institution at PCI (pickaway correctional institution) where I will serve my remaining time. PCI is relatively small so it is hard to comprehend spending the next several years of my life in such a confined state but I know it is something I have to endure. I am participating in a year-long alcohol and substance abuse recovery program called OASIS (Our awareness of self increases success) that will help me take a look at my actions and behaviors and how they truly effect those around me. It is a structure based environment and I am hopeful that it will enable me to confront some of the inner demons so I can lead a health and productive life. It is still very difficult to comprehend being incarcerated for 6 1/2 years but I am able to stay positive if I just focus on bettering myself day-to-day. I have an amazing support system in my family, girlfriend, and friends. I wouldn’t be able to stay positive without them. Prison is mostly a mental battle with yourself daily. There is a lot of negativity; drugs, alcohol, violence, sexual violence, gang activity, and basically anything else you can imagine. Fortunately I am removed from such things in the OASIS community and stay mentally strong and aware to not give in to all of the negativity, though some days it is very difficult. – Matthew Cordle
I was hesitant to post this letter I received from Matthew…..but now that some time has passed and currently he is in a better state of mind than when he wrote me this letter, I feel strongly that I should share it. It is real and raw. I have to post the good with the bad. Matt is extremly close with both our paternal grandparents. He lived with them and he and my grandma have a very special bond. Matthew has let the world in to see who he truly is and with that comes up and downs. This letter was written after being at CRC on 22 hour lockdown for many weeks. He is at Pickaway prison now and in a better place mentally……
Prison is no place to spend your life. Ive only been here for about four months now and I am already breaking down. Going through the holidays was rough and knowing that I have to do it many times over before I am free is an unbearable thought. I constantly remind myself why I am here but no matter how positive I try to stay, it is only a matter of time before this place tears me down. I had a dream about my grandma which summed things pretty well. The house was completely dark and I found my grandma on the ground unable to get up and very confused and afraid. For some reason, I couldnt get her up and she continually kept saying that someone was at the window trying to get in and hurt her. I tried to tell her that no one was there but then I couldn’t speak which only made her much more alarmed. Next thing I know there was a man by the window and he started walking towards her. With all of my might I pushed him but anytime I got near him he swatted me away. The closer he got to her the more she started to cry and call out for me but I couldn’t stop him no matter how hard I tried. I’ve never felt so helpless.
I woke up from that dream with tears in my eyes and I still cant get past this sickness in my stomach. My loved ones are out there, and I can do nothing for them. My grandparents are two of the most precious people to me and theres a strong possibility that I will never see them again as a free man. That thought alone is almost enough to do me in without all the other hardships of prison. I said that I would walk out of prison a better man. Today I feel that is hopeless. I feel this is no place to become a better man. I’m so sorry Vincent.- Matthew Cordle
I yelled at the nurses to give me painkillers, part from the pain but mostly because I just wanted everything to go away after hearing that I caused a fatal accident. They gave me a shot of fentanyl and I slipped into unconsciousness. I woke up and knew that what I had hoped was a nightmare, was in fact reality. The looks on the faces of my family told me what I never wanted to know, that I had killed someone. My family didn’t know who I had killed and the nurses also didn’t know, or they weren’t saying. My mind raced as to who it was, or how many people? A whole family? The thoughts were overwhelming, reality didn’t seem so real anymore, like I’d imagine you felt if someone told you that you were a robot and your memories were fake. It felt like a sick joke and all I wanted to do was not exist. The commandments say “Thou shall not kill” for a reason and I now knew why all to well. The insurmountable guilt was more than I could handle on that day I wished I never woke up. – Matthew Cordle
I want to dedicate this to everyone who helped that night…bystanders, police, victims, rescue workers at the crash site and everyone at Grant Hospital. Thank You. I can tell you one thing, I haven’t slept thru the night since Matt’s wreck, I constantly check my cell phone throughout the night. My phone was on silent that night. I awoke to my husband on his cell phone saying “what hospital? we are leaving now”. I thought it was one of my grandparents at first. My dad had just left that morning with my stepmom and youngest brother and sister for vacation. My mom lives in Nevada. My husband informed me Matt had been in a car wreck. We quickly put on some sweats and got in the car. I called my dad back to ask what had happened. He said Matt had been in a bad car crash, that the hospital called him and said he was in critical condition but ok and conscious. He hit someone else. I asked how the other person was? And my dad choked out that he think they had died. Other than that we had no details. Was anyone else in the car? Were there other cars? Who died? Where did this happen? And the question we didn’t want to say outloud-was there alcohol involved? We got to the hospital and immediately went to the ER where we were greeted by a wonderful social worker (and I wish I knew her name now as she was so helpful and calming). She told us the police were in with my brother and we could not see him until they were finished. I didn’t even know what questions to ask at this point. Only a few minutes later two cops walked out and approached us. They told me they believed my brother to be intoxicated and took a blood sample. They had his license and said it was suspended pending investiagation.They told me my brother had gone the wrong way on the highway, hit another car and the other person died. The cops didn’t know too many details as they had come with my brother to the hospital. Looking back, they were not friendly and very cold at the time…..but once I processed it all, I understand now….what they had just seen had to be horrifying. Looking back I am also very glad neither of my parents were there. No parent should have to go thru that, and no child should ever do that to their parents. I went in with the social worker to see Matthew. My husband stayed in the hall as we didn’t know what to expect or want to upset him. You could smell the stench of gasoline walking into the ER. As soon as he saw me he began to scream and cry. He kept saying “I killed someone” over and over….and that it should have been him. I stared at him in disbelief. I feel I am usually pretty good and level-headed in chaotic situations. I felt numb. Staring at my baby brother who was covered in blood, gravel and gas, injured, sobering up to the reality of what he had done. I didn’t know what to say or what to think. Was I mad? Was I glad he was alive? Did I want to punch him or hug him? I am so grateful for the social worker because she knew all the right things to say to him and myself. They made me leave as he was getting to worked up and transferred him to ICU as he has multiple serious injuries. My husband called my Dad as I gathered Matt’s things, rummaging thru them for some kind of clue. It was 4am Ohio time. Within the next hours, my sisters showed up, I had a few break downs, my dad jumped on a flight home, I had to call my mom and tell her what happened. She got a flight home. Our minds were racing with what to do next, what will happen? He kept asking us who he had killed. At this point nobody knew and/or would tell us. They had to notify the family first. As I started to process everything, I realized how sick I was at what my brother had done….but yet how thankful I was he was alive. Seeing him first in the ER, I honestly thought there was a chance he wouldn’t be okay. Looking back I now know there is a reason he is alive. He will prove it to the world. Just watch and see. Follow his journey.
R.I.P Vincent Canzani. -Sarah Alasya
P. O. Box 209
11781 St. Route 762
Orient, Ohio 43146
Matthew has been transferred to Pickaway Correctional institute where he will serve the remainder of his sentence. Anyone interested in writing to him is encouraged to do so. Again-handwrite your address (no stamp/label as they will tear it off). He also has access to emails through jpay.com and will be able to respond to those fairly quickly and regularly now. Jpay.com allows you to “email” him for 30 cents and you can send a virtual stamp with it so he can email you back. Matthew has been accepted into the Oasis program:
The Oasis Therapeutic Community (TC) is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Pickaway Correctional Institution servicing male offenders with substance abuse problems. OASIS stands for “Our Awareness of Self Increases Success” and the name was created by its first residents. TC focuses the residents on right living in a pro-social community and recovery through a shared therapeutic structure that includes communal meetings, encounter groups, education, organized recreation, and the like. There are 2 paths in OASIS: one is an Intensive Program Prison model that runs 4 months at PCI and 3 months in the community. The other is a long term program running 9-12 months in the institution. Residents are held to a high degree of accountability. Staff are there to help guide and assist, but the residents are the primary role models holding each other to a high standard. TC has proven very effective in helping offenders “go home to stay”.
The first thing I remember is hands attending to me and then the feel of cold across my body. ER nurses were cutting my clothes off and checking for more wounds. I remember not being able to see but I could smell gasoline, which was all over me. My arm and head felt like they were on fire. I can’t remember much more except for cops attemping to talk to me and me being extremly delierious and irate. At this point, my sister Sarah and brother-in-law Ilker arrived. I have asked her to write about what was going on, what she saw and felt when she arrived at the hospital. -Matthew Cordle
Friday, June 21st, 2013. One of my best buddies let me know that he had reserved us a table at a joint called Bar Louie. My family was also celebrating my cousins 12th birthday, so I stopped over at my aunts house early in the night for dinner . I cant remember what time it was that I left but I do remember being asked if I was headed home. See, it was common knowledge among my family that I had a problem with alcohol and they did the best they could to support me, hence them asking, rather pleading, that I stay in on a friday night. I lied, as I always did, and told them of course I wasn’t going out. I don’t know exactly when I became such a liar but when your whole life is filled with secrets, lying is much more convenient. I’ve been called a “weekend warrior” for separate reasons. First, because of my dedication to getting extremely intoxicated every weekend. When you continually binge drink your body loses the ability to process the amount of alcohol and you “blackout” quicker and quicker. I say this because the next part is incredibly hazy to me between being heavily intoxicated and being in critical condition. I am in no way making an excuse for my actions that night by saying “I blacked out”. I am intelligent enough to know that taking a drink impairs you, yet I chose to drink anyway. I got to Bar Louie around 10pm or 11pm, my whole group of friends were already there and I remember having a great time seeing everyone. We ordered drink after drink, shot after shot, and from here is where my memory gets hazy. I was told we went to two more bars that night but apart from choppy memories, I have no recollection of that. From what I’ve heard, at some point in the night I simply up and took off. -Matthew Cordle
While the news seemed more preoccupied with the “buzz worthy” parts of this tragedy, I want to focus on what really matters. I caused the death of an innocent man, I have damaged his friends and families lives, his daughters will never get to reconcile with him, his grand kids will never really get to know him, his loved ones and friends will never get to spend another second with the man they cherished so much. My friends and families lives are damaged, they have to suffer with a loved one in prison, they have to suffer the shame of what I’ve done. They also have to serve the punishment with me even though they are all innocent. One decision I made caused an enormous ripple of tragedy, one I don’t think I will ever truly comprehend. Every action and choice you make can effect others, bad choices can result in everything I’ve just described. No one is more important than anyone else. No one has the right to take the life of another. And no one has the right to put an innocent family through what I put them through. -Matthew Cordle
Last night was probably the hardest since I’ve been here. Maybe because everyone I know was celebrating and with loved ones. I have a New Years resolution though-not to succub to the negativity of prison. To stay true to myself. -Matthew Cordle
One thing I have learned is that everything I thought was important isn’t and everything I didn’t think mattered was everything I’ve ever wanted. Stay safe over the holiday and remember that every person is precious and they deserve to get home safe to their loved ones just as much as you do, so celebrate in a manner that makes sure everyone gets home safe. Happy New Year. – Matthew Cordle