Troy businessman discusses life, work after prison

Danny Killion has worked hard to rebuild his life after spending more than a decade behind bars.

“We organized and executed a bank robbery. And we did that, and we did not get caught the first time. So we did another one and then another one and then another,” said Killion.

At just 25 years old, Killion faced 13 years in prison for his involvement in a string of bank robberies.

“In the beginning, it was like, I was just probably just suicidal. When you go into prison and when you first get caught, you go into like a county jail situation,” Killion said. “You don’t know how much time you’re going to be doing. So initially I thought, you know, life was pretty much over.”

Today, Killion owns a thriving business, but his journey here wasn’t an easy one.

“I was involved in like a weird adoption, like foster-type family situation. Came from an orphanage. I think I had a very rebellious attitude from a very young age,” said Killion.

With a 13-year sentence, it was hard for Killion to imagine life outside of prison, but there’s one thing that he says saved him: his love for art.

“Because of the prison art program and programs like that, that go into prisons and consider people that are in prison to not be throwaways, you know, it made me feel like I wasn’t a throwaway,” said Killion.

Through Connecticut’s Community Partners in Action, Killion redirected his frustration into creativity with their prison arts program.

“Ninety percent of people that are currently incarcerated are coming back into our community. One of the biggest reasons why there’s recidivism is because people aren’t prepared to come back out into society and get a job and get and have job skills or education,” said Killion.

According to research by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, prison workforce and education programs reduce the likelihood of recidivism by 14.8%. In 2013, Killion opened Weathered Wood, a gallery and workshop for his artwork and furniture.

“I made so many pieces of furniture over the years that will be in people’s lives for years and years and years, maybe passed on to their children,” said Killion.

He now serves as a mentor by supporting younger artists and shares his story in his book “The Portrait of a Bank Robber.”

“To think that’s something that I would have ever achieved, something so spectacular. It is kind of surprising on a day-to-day basis. I walk in here sometimes I’m like, wow, this is pretty amazing,” said Killion.

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