This father shares a special bond with his son, one forged in cooking, family foods and traditions, and lots of father-son time—not to mention that they share a name. That bond remains strong even as the whole family suffers during Jr.’s incarceration.
Over four years ago, a judge sentenced my son to 11 mandatory years in prison for a first-time drug charge. As we waited in the courtroom for the verdict, it broke my heart to see my son look back at his mother and me as if to say, “This is it.” When the verdict came down, Michael just dropped his head, but the pain we felt from that was excruciating.
Michael K. Daniels, Jr., was a very good student at Mansfield Sr. High School. He loved playing sports and hanging out with his friends. He started working at a very young age helping me in the catering business while I was a manager over the culinary department. Michael also worked there during the ski season for three seasons, snowboarding with me while on a break.
Michael has a grand heart. He is my youngest son and I watched him being born, holding him even before his mom did. I taught him to like people and give them a chance, and if there was nothing you could do to help them, then don’t do anything to hurt them. Michael would do what he could do to help his friends out whenever he could, even when they could not return the favor. He loved his family, especially his son, Kladane, and his nephews. He would save his money so that all of them would have decent presents for the Christmas holidays.
I still work as an executive chef and run a catering company, so Michael grew up on casual fine dining food, with a great knowledge of seafood and other culinary foods. He grew up watching his parents entertain folks where there was plenty of foods to eat, from hog roast to the table being full of all kinds of food treats. He would make sure his friends came to the yard parties because he liked showing off what his dad would be cooking. I wanted my son to be successful.
Michael also had a special love for his only sister, Kladija, and I would love to see them together talking because they would always have so much to say about everything. He also made sure his older sister had everything she needed. We are a close family and we have always been together. We have always been heavy into showing each other how much we care on special days like birthdays and Christmas.
Our family has never been broken up until now. Even now, even though he’s in jail, he makes sure he calls and sends cards on special days. We take Kladane to all-day visits, and they read together and take pictures and eat. This is what keeps our bond together.
My wife was crushed at the trial to see her youngest son being sent to prison for a mandatory of 11 years. For my wife and me, it is difficult for us to manage trying to look after our son within the prison, like keeping money on his books, phone money, storage for his car, and keeping up with his belongings. His son Kladane comes to visit us and he loves to eat; we fill the fridge with crab legs, shrimp, and collard greens when he is arriving. Michael wants the best for his son, and I do my best on keeping my son’s promise to his son.
I believe if you do good in your life you deserve some kind of justice, but our lives have been struck down by this sentence.
It takes a lot of hard work to keep up each other’s morale due to the circumstances. For my son, this was a first-time offense for him and we pray that the government will do something about prison reform. There is no need to suck the life out of someone who made a mistake by sentencing to a mandatory sentence of 11 years.
We know that other families are suffering like us. My heart goes out to all of the families who are suffering from a loved one who is serving unjust sentencing time. Let’s continue to fight for them, pray that their mind, body, and soul can and will stay intact until justice can come their way.
Michael K. Daniels, your family loves you and is fighting for your freedom, may peace be with you and God be with you.