I’m not perfect. I am too broken to ever be, but I can finally be proud of the man I am. For me, that is enough.

I grew up in a redneck family in the backwoods of Mobile, Alabama. I’m the fourth (and last) child of good parents who did their best to raise me.

By the time I was 14, I had more than a dozen guns of my own, and I lived to hunt, fish, and ramble in the woods. Summers were swimming and sunning on the beaches and sandbars. Holidays were for alcoholic inebriation, with parental consent at a very young age. My parents were liberal in many ways, yet considered themselves Christians of the “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” variety. Once I realized I was attracted to men, there was no way I could ever admit it or hope to find acceptance.

After marrying two women — Laura Penrod (who I only knew for 10 days) and Diana Shepherd Brantly Pollard, I went to prison on a 5-year conviction. The man I robbed wasn’t my first victim and wouldn’t be my last. Shooting drugs had turned me into a monster.

Since February of ’92, I’ve been incarcerated in Texas after a car chase and shootout that began on Lower Greenville Ave. in Dallas and ended on in a standoff on a highway in Hunt County, 100 miles away.

My third wife, Jeanie Land, and I had made a suicide pact — we decided we’d rather die than go to prison, so that was our plan. We’d fight to the death, and not be taken alive. 

And then, after we ended up stopped in the middle of the highway, surrounded by police cars, Jeanie backed out of our pact. She decided she would rather go to prison than die. 

I didn’t have that choice. I got out of the car, gun in hand, intending to die but I had lost a lot of blood from a gunshot wound in my hand and the gun was too heavy to lift. And then I blacked out. 

Though I would be convicted of 10 counts of attempted murder (6 counts were for attempted Capital Murders of Police and 4 were other attempted murders), the truth was I only tried to kill 3 officers that dark day. 

I shot tires, radiators, and passenger side windows where no one sat. With about 150 rounds fired — one hundred 9mms out of a M-11 Cobra with 32 round clips — there is no doubt in my mind that if I had fired head high every time I pulled the trigger I would have hit someone. 

I’m very glad no one was shot except myself, though the D.A. in Dallas did see to it that I was convicted of “Injury to a Child” because a little girl got glass dust in her eyelid, hours later. It was surely my fault, but not my intent. It was overturned on appeal. 

My sentences on record are: 2 charges of attempted murder of police, 4 Capital murder charges and four sentences for mistakenly shot civilian cars in the belief that if people were endangered by the car chase, they would back off. I forgot I was in the Wild West. 

All of these sentences are running concurrently with the help of a news crew’s helicopter. See, since I was never out of sight from the police throughout the events, it was all considered to be one offense with multiple crimes. The judges agreed. I don’t blame anyone for my time. 

I have another charge in Virginia.  I was also convicted of 1st Degree Murder for killing Jeanie’s uncle, at her request. Part of my plea agreement stipulated that Jeanie could plead guilty to 2nd Degree Murder and serve no more than 5 years. 

And because I pled guilty, they took the Death Penalty off the table. My commitment papers from Virginia said only that I was “committed to a term of 600 years in the Virginia Department of Corrections.” With no mention of “Life” it gives you a new way to look at things, as 600 years is the amount of time Virginia decides a life is worth.

I was diagnosed with HIV in September 2000 and it pushed me over the edge. The challenge of facing what I saw as death led me back to sanity and life. I had the help of a woman named Ramsay, who became my mentor, friend, and eventually, family of choice, replacing the family of blood that had given up on me. 

If every prisoner could have such a friend, there would be hope for all of us. If every child could have such guidance, we wouldn’t need prisons.

I’m not perfect. I am too broken to ever be, but I can finally be proud of the man I am. For me, that is enough.

Thanks to one person caring for me, I am no longer the man I was.

Daniel H. Harris #00622851

MICHAEL Unit

2664 FM 2054

Tennessee Colony, TX 75886