In 2010, Ricky was convicted as an accomplice to attempted criminal sodomy with a fifteen year-old male. Ricky was incarcerated for 82 months and released on parole in 2015. However, there is so much more to Ricky’s story. We hope that you will read on to better understand and appreciate our friend and colleague, Ricky Suttington.
Ricky used his time in prison productively, providing himself with a running start toward reentry into society, determined not to let the incident in 2010 define has life. He was recognized for not only his self-rehabilitation, but also for his commitment in helping other inmates prepare for the future. As a result of his personal conduct, leadership and commitment to others demonstrated throughout his time in prison, Ricky was recognized as a role model for others seeking redemption and working to achieve successful reentry.
While incarcerated, Ricky consistently took on leadership roles in programs dedicated to self-help and self-healing. He held numerous organizational and administrative roles in the correctional facility and completed an 18-month sexual offender treatment program while incarcerated and then again after he was released. Ricky successfully completed offender workforce development courses seven different times and another time he was called upon to teach the course to other inmates. Ricky is passionate about working to help others successfully reintegrate into society upon their release. Both while incarcerated and since, Ricky has demonstrated his commitment to improving our community.
For the first few years following his release, Ricky took upon the role of primary care-giver for his mother who was immobilized by congestive heart disease. Ricky cared for his mother until her death in April, 2018. During this time Ricky worked primary in fast food jobs, often times working double-shifts to make ends meet.
Over the past few years Ricky has been employed in a multitude of near minimum-wage jobs, happily taking the work he can get including off hours in factories and warehouses, call centers, and fast food restaurants. But due to his registration as a sex offender and the resulting aspects of his parole, it has been difficult for Ricky to maintain steady employment.
Ricky is transparent and takes responsibility for his past, sharing information upfront with potential employers. However, it is challenging for Ricky to build credibility because of his record, and his parole and offender registration status further complicates his relationship with new employers. Parole requirements include notifying the board of a new job within three days. Once notified that a parolee has begun employment, the board sends the employer a form letter with an impersonal boilerplate disclosure that would make any employer concerned about potential liabilities.
Employers receive the parole status letter after Ricky has already disclosed his past through the interview process — when he is just beginning to build a relationship and earn trust. Often times the letter undermines this effort and causes confusion for the new employer. In Ricky’s experience many employers are concerned that there may be more to the story than they are aware. It is difficult for employers to get to know him well enough to overcome the stigma of his conviction. We hope this space serves as that opportunity – to tell Ricky’s whole story.
Going back to 2010, Ricky was hanging out with a friend (we will call him Freddie) who recommended that they hook-up with someone that Freddie said that he knew. It later became evident that Freddie had only met the other individual through social media messaging. Unbeknownst to either Ricky or Freddie, the man they were seeking to connect with for a sexual encounter was in fact only fifteen, not an eighteen year-old adult.
Ricky and Freddie picked the young man up in a car, planning to find a secluded location at a park for a sexual encounter. On the way to the park, the young man asked Ricky to stop at a convenience store so he could buy cigars, an act that further solidified in Ricky’s mind that the young man was at least 18 years old, the legal age to purchase tobacco in Kansas. After a successful stop at the store, they proceeded to the park where Ricky parked and remained seated in the front seat behind the steering while Freddie joined the young man in the back seat. Shortly thereafter the police arrived to check-out the parked car and determined that the young man that Freddie was about to engage in sex with was only 15 years-old. Both Freddie and Ricky were arrested.
At the time of his arrest, Ricky had a wrongful juvenile conviction on his record – an incident that had been told was previously expunged. Ricky’s prior record was the result of a significant injustice that was perpetuated on him to cover-up many years of sexual molestation by an older relative upon Ricky and another family member.
Ricky had been repeatedly molested from the time he was eight to twelve years old. The offender was a relative that was three years older than Ricky. During this sustained period of sexual abuse he forced Ricky to perform sexual acts with another relative who was one-year younger. The younger child eventually shared the fact that he was molested with school officials. However, when police investigated the incident, the mother of the young man that molested both of the boys engaged in a cover-up so that her own son would not face charges as an adult. Ricky was close with this family member and trusted her when she said that it would be better for the family for Ricky to take the blame since he was younger. She convinced Ricky that the incident wouldn’t affect his adult record and that this was the right thing to do for the family. As a result, Ricky was convicted in juvenile court of molesting an eleven year-old at which time he was twelve years-old himself.
Even though Ricky was himself a victim and only one-year older than the other victim, he spent three days in juvenile detention and was then placed on house arrest for one year. Authorities were never made aware that the older relative had been molesting both boys, and Ricky’s record was not expunged as promised when he turned 18.
Because Ricky had done what his extended family had asked, his previous record led the District Attorney to charge him in 2010 as an accomplice to Attempted Criminal Sodomy with a minor greater than or equal to 14 and less than 16. Ricky was truthful with authorities concerning his motive and role in regard to the incident at the park and was sentenced to 5 years in prison to be followed with two-years of probation. In addition, Ricky would have to register as sex-offender. Freddie, who was in the back seat with the young man when police arrived, was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, a term that was two-years shorter than that received by Ricky, who was charged as Freddie’s accomplice.
Ricky was an exemplary inmate, and was even called-on to take part in presentations to officials and community leaders visiting the prison to learn about successful rehabilitation programming. However, two months prior to his release, the District Attorney in Kansas City, Kansas took action to extend Ricky’s probation classification from two-years to lifetime probation. This action was part of a larger effort by authorities to shift a large group of felons with similarly classed convictions to lifetime parole status.
Parole complicates Ricky’s prospects. And now that he is subject to probation for life despite only initially being sentenced to a few years of parole, he can do everything in his power to rebuild his life, but without the help of others he may never be able to find real job security.
Ricky does not contest that he intended to take part in sexual activity with someone who turned out to be a minor. We can’t change the past, however, we can stand with Ricky to work toward changing his life-time parole status.
The testimonials included on this website provide insight into Ricky’s true character. We invite you to work with us in whatever manner you can to make sure that Ricky doesn’t continue to serve a life-sentence of injustice.
“Somebody has to stand when other people are sitting. Somebody has to speak when other people are quiet.”
— Bryan Stevenson