This is Saul Martinez’s bio, in his own words:

I was born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico on January 2, 1977. I was raised in the Bronx. I am the second eldest of six siblings—one elder brother, and for younger sisters. In 1975, my mother was 16 years of age and while still living in Puerto Rico was forced by my grandparents to marry my father, because she was pregnant with my brother. I don’t remember much about my father—only the excessive alcohol drinking and the physical and emotional abuse toward my mother. Eventually, after years of abuse, she decided to divorce my father and move to the United States to start a new life.

I took to the streets at a very young age—just 10 years old, when my mother thought I was attending school, I was actually in some apartment with other kids packaging crack cocaine into vials to then be sold on the streets. For packaging we’d all receive $40-$50 for eight hours. I would always give half of the money to my mother with the same explanation: “I found it coming home from school.” She eventually stop asking where the money came from. Besides, we desperately needed the money. There were times when the welfare checks were stolen right out of the mailbox and my mother would cry because there was no food at home—that broke my heart.

From packaging drugs I graduated to selling them. I’d often request positions where the payoff was more—more money meant more risks. I wasn’t too concerned about the cops, because they often take my money and drugs (pocket them) and let me go. The stick up kids were different story. Some of these dudes had no problem taking everything you had on your person, only to stab you, shoot you or beat you half to death.

Initially my mission was to provide enough money to my family so that we wouldn’t have to depend on our $300 welfare check. By this time pessimism was a large part of my life. I wasn’t much of an atheist and all I ever saw coming out of the church were contradictions and hypocrisies, but my mother still believed and would often seek help from the church.

My criminal lifestyle escalated when I became a member of the Latin Kings at the age of 12-years-old. The hierarchy took a liking to me because I was a stupid kid who wanted to please them. I would take any mission no matter the risks or consequences. Many of the missions consisted of going after major drug dealers and suppliers, robbing them of their drugs and weapons. The logic behind robbing other criminals was: because of their illegal activities they wouldn’t call the authorities, but that logic didn’t always hold up. For instance, drug dealers who we robbed in Holyoke Massachusetts were supplied and protected by officers of the Holyoke PD.

On September 12, 2006 I was brought in for questioning in Manhattan’s 25th Precinct Robbery Squad. I was questioned about a string of armed robberies on Manhattan’s East side cabdrivers. During questioning, Detective Kevin Printice stated that he wasn’t stupid and knew that I was his guy, and that I was going after petty drug dealers which dealt out of their cabs. This questioning continued for hours—when I requested a phone call I was denied. When a lawyer was requested I was told “What for? You’re only here for questioning.” I was questioned some more and through lineup after lineup, five in total. After more than 24 hours in the 25th precinct, on September 12, 2006 I requested to be let go, since I wasn’t under arrest. An hour later I was placed under arrest and charged with first-degree robbery and assault in the 1st. I was indicted on the above charges as well as two others. During my stay in Manhattan House Detention Center, I was rearrested, charged and indicted on multiple counts of “assault on correction officers.” After an arduous process of negotiations between my lawyers, the D.A. and judges, a deal was reached: my current convictions are a “robbery and assault” charge, “promoting prison contraband,” and “assault on corrections officers.” Due to a plea deal received I received a total of 20 years.

I’ve never professed to be innocent of the above crimes, but a lot of truth was distorted and my explanation wasn’t taken into consideration. I understand why. My history is not a pretty one, and I can’t blame the world for believing me an incorrigible criminal, because I’ve given them reason to believe so. There was a time in my life when I would have agreed too, but I’m not so sure today. In retrospect, I often find myself recalling my crimes and all the people I inflicted with fear and agony and I always end up feeling like a piece of shit. I feel remorse and regret for all of it and I’m tired of always trying to justify my wrongs with excuses or the famous propaganda that the environment “made me do it.” Today I do think of ways on how to make amends—not just to the people I’ve wronged, but to society as a whole, because I have been responsible for encouraging others to desecrate its fabric. My goals are to educate myself in the fields of liberal arts: childhood education, counseling, psychology, and therapy. I really would love to give back by helping others help themselves.