Hitting the Target; Ralph Warren’s key to a new life

Almost three decades ago during an era of harsh drug laws, the Toledo author sentenced to life in prison. In January 2017, he was one of the 1,927 people pardoned by President Obama.

Ralph Warren’s debut novel Target marks the beginning of a new life for him. A new chapter in his remarkable story began in January 2017 when President Obama commuted his life sentence two days before Obama left office. Warren had spent 27-and-a-half years in prison due the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ drug sentencing laws. Now, Warren’s taking control of his future, pursuing his love of writing and speaking about his experiences in the hope that it will make a difference.

Hard beginnings

Born and raised in Toledo, Warren came from a middle class upbringing. As a standout athlete at Scott High School, he also discovered his love of storytelling.

“I first fell in love with movies. I wanted to make movies and loved the idea of telling stories,” he said. He began college at the University of Toledo and from there spiraled downward due to drug use. “Made a poor decision to experiment with drugs and it took me for a loop. I partied a lot but didn’t know how it would end up.”

Charged and convicted with eight childhood friends of conspiracy to sell drugs, Warren was sentenced to a life prison term. Since his release, Warren has passionately spoken out against mandatory minimum sentencing.

Time in prison

During the many years Warren spent in prison, he returned to his love of the written word and spent much of his time writing, saying: “I wrote for 15-20 years in prison. I wrote to keep from being depressed.”

He finished several movie scripts, a documentary and his debut novel, Target, which tells the story of three successful rich women who, surprisingly, get mixed up in crime.

“The dramatic premise behind Target was based upon how people talk down about people in prison. Everybody has the ability to do wrong things and the story shows that conditions can be shaped to have people commit crimes you wouldn’t expect them to,” he said. Add in a love story, some family values and a little raunchy material, and an enticing, racy thriller was born.


Upcoming projects

Warren’s 2018 project that he is most excited for is his autobiography, The Miracle of 2017, slated for a June or July release, detailing his journey getting out of prison, his historic experience with President Obama, and the choices he’s made since starting a normal life. He’s also begun working on a new novel entitled Deadly Justice. “I like underdog characters that rise up to do the impossible. That will be the focus of the new novel,” Warren said, adding that he also hopes to get one of his scripts off the ground and start filming.

Despite all that he has been through, Ralph Warren is a happy, grateful person who is committed to sharing his experiences in the hope that it will help someone in the throes of life.

“My hope for 2018 is to take my book international, get a pay raise (at his day job as a drug addiction counselor) and continue public speaking. Everything is falling into place now,” he said, saying that his one piece of advice to anyone struggling or not knowing what to do next is, “Always stay humble and be confident and things are going to be fine.”

Target is available through online retailers and at authorralphdwarren.com