March 2003 should have been a good month for Colton Simpson. He had hobnobbed with rap stars in New York. A book deal was in the offing. After almost three decades in and out of juvenile hall and prisons, the former O.G. (original gangster) from the feared L.A.-based Crips gang seemed to be turning his life around, reports the Washington Post. Then on March 17, three men stole an $800 diamond earring from a jewelry store in Riverside County, Calif. Within weeks Simpson was fingered as the getaway-car driver, was indicted for robbery and was facing 25 years to life, his third strike under California’s “three strikes and you’re out” law.
Today, instead of being on book tour, Simpson, 40, is on trial. And, in a rare move, a California judge has allowed a prosecutor to introduce as evidence Simpson’s autobiography, “Inside the Crips: Life Inside L.A.’s Most Notorious Gang,” published in August to critical acclaim. Simpson and his co-author, Ann Pearlman, say “Inside the Crips” is a tale of redemption, the story of a hard-core gang soldier who changes his ways. “I wrote this to try to do something positive with my life,” Simpson said in an interview at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. “This was a way to right some of the wrongs I’ve done.”