By: Larry Lawton & Peter Golenbock
New York Times bestselling author Peter Golenbock and Larry Lawton write the story of Larry Lawton – from his childhood in the Bronx, New York, being incarcerated and tortured in the Federal Bureau of Prisons; to how he developed and founded the Reality Check Program.
Growing up in the Bronx in the shadow of the Throgs Neck Bridge, Larry Lawton was an altar boy until the day he was sexually molested by a priest. Needing to prove his manhood, Lawton as a teen began a criminal career taking bets on football games. He hung out at local bars, was embraced by mobsters, and soon became an “earner” and enforcer for the Gambino crime family. After a young thug made the mistakes of robbing a member of Lawton’s gang, Lawton took him into the basement of the mob bar and told the thug that if he didn’t tell him where the money was, he was going to be sorry. The thug finally talked, but not before Lawton left the imprint of a scalding-hot iron on his chest.
Lawton was then ordered by his superiors to rob a jewelry store in Florida. The owner, who sought to collect insurance on his losses, was in on it. The robbery made Lawton a small fortune, and for the next six years he pulled off heist after heist up and down the East Coast, frustrating the police and the FBI.
After six years he was caught, and sentenced to four twelve year sentences to run concurrently in some of America’s most brutal prisons. He was sent to solitary, tortured by guards, and after he began a letter writing campaign to publicize the brutality of prison life, he was targeted by the warden for further abuse. One day the guards beat him, stripped him naked, strapped him down spread eagle, and urinated on him as punishment. “Keep writing, Lawton,” said one guard as he walked away.
After Lawton served his term, he was asked by a friend to talk to the friend’s son, a boy who clearly was headed for a life of crime. Lawton vividly told the boy about what prison life really was about, and after a couple of weeks the boy’s father said to Lawton, “You ought to make this your life’s work. I don’t know what you told him, but he’s a different kid.” Since then Lawton has dedicated his life to working with America’s teens and young adults, telling them the truth about prison life, what they will lose, avoiding and dissolving bad associations, helping them to turn their lives around. His program, the nationally recognized Reality Check Program, is used by judges, law enforcement, government officials, attorneys and parents all over the country and has kept thousands of teens and young adults from going to prison. His success rate is incredible and well documented. So is Larry Lawton’s story, he holds nothing back –