Candid Conversations: Casey Diaz –from Maximum Prison to Pulpit

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Casey Diaz was introduced to gang culture at the age of 11. As part of an initiation into his gang, during a violent attack on a rival gang member, the leader handed Casey a screwdriver and said, “Now it’s your turn”. That was the first time Casey took part in a stabbing – many more would take place for years to come. He was later sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for second-degree murder, along with 52 counts of armed robbery.

During his imprisonment, Casey became a shot caller. Shot callers have an elevated rank in the gang world; not only are they the ones who command respect, but they are power brokers inside prison walls as they determine who gets hurt or killed and who doesn’t.

While Casey was in prison, one day he heard the guards come by his cell with an announcement, “Church service. Any inmate wanting to go, stand by your gate.” Casey heard an older woman say, “Is there someone in that cell?” She sounded Southern and spoke with a syrupy drawl. “Yes, ma’am, but you don’t want to deal with Diaz,” a guard said. “You’re wasting your time.”

“Well, Jesus came for him, too,” he heard her say. And what she shared with Casey would change his life forever.

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