Convict sets house on fire to go back to prison

Randall Lee Church

“Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.” — Alvin Toffler

Randall Lee Church was 18 when he was put into prison for murder. That was 1983: stir-up pants were popular, “Return of the Jedi” was just released, kids played outdoors more, and Michael Jackson ruled. So when he was officially discharged in April after more than two decades of incarceration, he felt so alienated.

“Everything had gone fast-forward without me,” Church, 46, told the Houston Chronicle. “I didn’t know how to use computers or cellphones or the Internet.”

Fed up on July 10, three months after his release, Church set an abandoned house on fire to earn his way back inside. He told police that he missed his job as a janitor at his former prison unit, begging to be taken back to the familiar life he led for 26 years.

“The weirdest thing was walking into a store like Walmart and have parents hide their children from me, like I was supposed to jump at them,” he added.

Church’s original crime in 1983 was stabbing a guy named James Alfred Michael in a drunken dispute over $97 that turned into a brawl.