Inside the Criminal Conscience: Convicted felon now pastor to those still in Florida prisons

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – One wrong choice can land you behind bars for years. In this edition of Inside the Criminal Conscience, we take you into the mind of a convicted criminal.

Willie Dixon was born into a very humble home, but, as a young man, he found an easy way to make money on the streets. Little did he know, it would soon land him behind bars.

“I was born October 3, 1931,” Dixon said.

Dixon, now in his 80s, isn’t shy about his past.

“What got me in trouble was ME! I got myself in trouble.”

Although, he admits it was a “lady friend” who initially led him down the wrong path.

“I met a girl named Tidbit,” Dixon explained. “Tidbit introduced me to heroin.”

Immediately hooked, Dixon said he then found a way to support his habit. He sold cocaine and heroin.

“I made money, plenty of money… You ever heard the song by Marvin Gaye? I heard it through the grapevine. We got a grapevine!”

“They did not use the wiretaps during the fifties and sixties,” he said.

Dixon said he had easy access to his “source.”

“I used to have a certain person, a pharmacist, to deliver to my house.”

That’s also where police eventually came calling.

“In advertently, I had just finished, uh, shooting drugs, and I didn’t hide it where I usually hide it,” Dixon explained. “I came to the door with it.”

Dixon recall not being angry with any of the officers.

“I said ‘your job to catch me and my job is not to get caught. You did a better job than me,’ and that’s true.”

Then came the sentencing.

“The judge gave me 20 years in 1976,” Dixon said.

It was there behind bars where he made a promise he continues to live up to, to this very day.

“I made a commitment when I was incarcerated, that I would go back and minister to those who are still in prison.”

Pastor Dixon now runs “The Coach Program” throughout Florida’s prisons.

Many say he’s a shining example of the power of the human spirit and it’s ability to overcome life’s obstacles.

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