|Jeff and his Wife Michelle.|
Jeffrey Perrotte got drunk on May 5, 1992. Then he drove toward home. Jilly Rizzo also drove home and never saw Perrotte’s car before it slammed into his own and killed him. California convicted Perrotte of Second Degree Murder for killing Mr. Rizzo, the long time friend and confidant of Frank Sinatra. Perrotte’s name changed to a number – Inmate Number H-89472, and he faced life in prison. California has jailed Jeff at some of the most dangerous prisons in the country. He is currently at Corcoran’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran State Prison in Central California.
From his “house” – his 6 x 10 cell – he shares a passionate message about the dangers of drinking and driving and the devastating affects caused by its aftermath. Inmate Perrotte is a living example of what can happen when you allow drugs or alcohol to take a front seat in your life.
This is his story:
One evening, speeding down a rain-slicked road in Rancho Mirage, intoxicated and already warned about drinking and driving, Jeff’s car collided with the rear, corner panel of a Jaguar driven by Jilly Rizzo, setting it ablaze, and killing Mr. Rizzo.
In a state of panic, Jeff fled the scene, only adding to his miseries by returning a short time later and lying to police about who drove his car.
One bad decision after another led to a life of despair; one-fourth of which has already been spent behind bars in California’s most dangerous prisons. However, Jeff’s story didn’t suddenly start on May 5, 1992 neither does it have an ending ….
“I started drinking at the age of 11 and smoking pot shortly thereafter.” This is a powerful statement that shows the start of a life of habitual drug and alcohol abuse whose only outcome could be, “Jails, institutions, or death.” Jeff’s observation shows the incredible need for today’s youth to be educated about the powerful negative affects drugs and alcohol can play in their lives. This education MUST begin at a very young age.
Jeff’s alcoholic father set his example and perhaps predisposed him to the life he now is forced to live. The cycle of substance abuse repeating itself in subsequent generations is a common fact. Still, Jeff takes full responsibility for his own substance abuse, and knows that this confession is an essential step toward sobriety.
This site is designed to provide the tools necessary to make effective changes that result in a productive life, instead of the tragic hardships endured by countless people because of Jeff’s actions, or people like him. Jeff does not want you to do what he did.
His message is simple enough: “Don’t Drink and Drive.” Yet, the message goes far deeper in that he advocates a life of sobriety and the powerful and positive side-affects that come as a direct result.
But, again, PLEASE DON’T DRINK, BUT IF YOU DO, PLEASE DON’T DRIVE.
“Had I never touched alcohol or drugs, an innocent man would not have been killed, an innocent family would not have suffered the devastating loss of someone they love so dearly, children would not have been forced to grow up without a father, a wife would not have had to struggle raising children alone, and on and on and on,” Jeff confesses. “The impact that that action, completely selfish in nature, has had on so many lives is countless. The cost to society just in human productivity is high.
“All of this was avoidable,” Jeff adds.
Drinking and drug problems require your immediate attention. It is of the utmost importance that you make immediate lifestyle changes, the kind that come from inner-convictions. If you think that it is all right to have a couple of drinks and drive home, think again. YOUR LIFE OR THE LIFE OF AN INNOCENT VICTIM COULD BE SNUFFED OUT IN A FLASH!!
“I never thought it out. I never thought I would ever hurt anyone because I wanted to have a drink. I was so caught up in my own life that I didn’t worry about this matter. I was dreadfully wrong and have died a thousand deaths because of this unconscionable way of thinking.”
In his prison cell, Jeff has repeatedly replayed the causes and events that, over time, eventually led to the murder of Mr. Rizzo. “I have wished a million times that I would have taken a serious look at my life, recognized that it was not manageable, and then taken the action necessary to stop. I wish I would have attended Alcoholics Anonymous to obtain the tools I needed to live a life of sobriety. I wish…”
“My wishing gave way to unimaginable sorrow, because wishing changes nothing.” Fortunately, if you are looking at this website, you are not in prison. “This tells me that you still have time to make changes or help someone you love make the changes needed to prevent coming to this horrible place.” You can save the pain and suffering that comes from watching your family struggle, watching people you love die while you sit in prison, realizing that your hopes and dreams are gone, watching people get killed on a prison yard, living under the stress of knowing your life could end in a flash of prison violence, feeling the pain of believing you are a complete liability to the ones you love the most; living under the veil of hopelessness, believing that your life is over.
“My pain and sorrow is intensified by the fact that I know I caused this,” Jeff confesses. “There is no one to blame but me.”
“I am a convicted murderer, I am ashamed of my actions and terribly sorry for the pain and suffering that I caused,” Jeff adds, “and I beg of you to please digest this information and do not come and visit me. Do not learn the way I learned. I challenge you to be courageous in your introspective view of yourself and identify a problem if there is one. I challenge you to get involved in the life of someone you care about who is on the same path of destruction that I was on. I implore you to realize just how valuable freedom is and just how precious each and every moment in this life is. Value your life and value the lives of those around you. Become the good and decent human being that I wish I would have been.”
Prison life forced Jeff to face his addiction. It does not have to be this way for you.
“On May 5, 1992, I had no idea of the pain I would cause so many people. I was also blind to the fact that, if you continue to drink and drive after society warns you of this behavior, and kill someone, then you are a MURDERER and just as guilty as someone who took a gun and ended someone’s life.
“If you think that society cares that you didn’t intend to hurt someone and that you are sorry, you are going to learn a very hard lesson,” Jeff warns. “You should have thought about this in the first place.”
Society is tired of watching its young children, its sons and daughters, its parents, friends, and loved ones die at the hands of a drunk driver. “I am also tired of this and pray that this severe social problem will end. I pray that drunk driving won’t affect your family in the manner it has affected mine. My family has suffered on both sides of this story.”
In 1955, a drunk driver killed Jeff’s grandmother in Upstate New York. As a result, his 15-year-old mother had to quit school in order to care for her younger brother and sister. She endured the devastation of losing her mom at an age when she needed her most. She had to sacrifice everything to help her siblings. “I often thought about the price that mom had to pay and it ripped my heart out of my chest; made me angry and bitter. Then, 37 years later, I brought her more pain by being the one that murdered an innocent victim.”
The man that killed Jeff’s Grandmother spent a few days in jail. Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers was not around then to increase awareness of the devastation wrought from this behavior. “I think about that man now, as I sit here in prison. I hope he realizes that he got away with murder. I hope he realizes that he affected the life of a beautiful little girl and her family. I hope he feels the pain that I feel today for murdering another human being.”
The fact is that ALL drunk drivers are prospective murderers.
Anyone that kills another person because of drunkenness or drug-induced stupor deserves to spend a large portion of his or her life in prison. Why ??? Because it is an avoidable action and it is wrong. There are no shadows of grey here. There is no reason whatsoever that another human being should lose their life at the hands of a drunk driver. Society has gone out of its way to educate and offer treatment for this problem. There are no excuses.
I pray that you truly comprehend the magnitude of the danger of this type of behavior. Drinking and Driving destroys more than you can begin to realize… Trying to live with the knowledge that you murdered an innocent man, woman, or child consumes your every waking moment. It eats away at you like a cancer as you think about the pain and suffering that you alone brought to so many. The guilt is over-powering …Then, those that are left to pick up the pieces of their lives are faced with the difficult task of putting on a mask of reasonable order so they can try to survive the loss… So they can try to figure out how to live a life without someone they loved so much… I stole a father, a grandfather, a brother, a friend, a cousin and partner from good, decent people. You don’t want to wake up every day with this internal sorrow.
Then, those who by bad luck and terrible chance happen to be the ones that love and care for you, are put in the position that they have to defend love, and help the person that caused such devastating destruction. The shame you bring your family, especially your children, is immeasurable. Then, as you endure year after year in prison, and watch those that you love die, your clarity on the Value of Life and what you destroyed becomes so clear and painful that you barely want to live. On March 14, 2003, I was paged to the Yard Administrative Office and told that my father had died. I was denied the ability to attend his funeral because of my “Lifer” status. I had mistakenly thought that this was the worst day I would spend in prison. Four years later, my dearest friend and confidant, my precious sister Ann, told me over the phone that she had been diagnosed with final-stage multiple myloma (bone cancer). My incarceration weighed heavy on my sister evidenced by receiving a letter a day from Ann for over 15 years. Even when she was suffering from this horrible disease, her concern would be on me and I would call home. Ann suffered great pain to make the trip to see me a couple of times while I was at Tehachapi. She would walk into the visiting room trying to disguise the pain she was enduring on my behalf. This ripped my heart out of my chest. Because I couldn’t be a responsible person and manage my life, the one dearest to me would suffer unimaginable pain for me Because I chose to be a murdered instead of a productive member of society, I couldn’t be there to help my sister and hold her hand and kiss her good by when she died. This is something that I will never forgive myself for. Even during the pain, I know my sister died worrying about me. All the tears I have cried have yet to make a dent in the pain and guilt I have over this…It has yet to make a dent in the way I miss my sister. To think of the reality that I brought this same pain to others, continues to eat away at my soul This is what you can expect for yourself.
That solutions exist is a great hope. “I want you to know that you can overcome the destructive effects of drunkenness and drunk driving. Please, I implore you, read through this website and they will become clear to you.”