How one of the most dangerous men in Texas’ recent history met Christ
Story first published at Prison Fellowship.
“I was sitting in a strip cell, angry, no clothes … acting crazy, spitting on guards,” says Russ Kloskin, soft-spoken and pensive.
The man‘s articulate, gentle demeanor makes it hard to imagine him as a former leader of one of the most violent organized crime machines in Texas‘ history.
Up until 2000, Russ would have blamed his behavior on his rough lot in life. Growing up in some of the Midwest‘s biggest cities, little Russ would steal clothes off of clotheslines, nab groceries—anything to avoid the next foster care placement or children‘s home, while his teenage mother roamed the streets looking for her next fix.
When he was a preteen, they moved to Houston where the drugs and violence were constant—at home and on the streets. Russ turned to the streets to escape an abusive stepfather and soon joined the ranks of Houston‘s homeless youth. Then it was on to juvenile facilities, reform school, and ultimately on to prison at age 15 for an armed robbery.
A few years into his incarceration, Russ was put into a cell with Joe, a ”big biker guy” who took a liking to him and decided to take the young man under his wing. Turns out Joe was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist group that is responsible for many of the murders in the federal prison system. In the Brotherhood, Russ found everything he thought he always wanted—family, belonging, sense of self-worth.
Over the next several years, Russ moved up the ranks of the gang as he committed acts of violence. In 1996, he and his “brothers” hanged a man in his cell. Russ and his comrades were “deemed a threat to the safety and security of the institution” and sent to solitary confinement units in different prisons across the state.