Those attributes led to Butler being sent to prison.
But today, instead of just being a 46-year-old man with a felony record, he is a college graduate -- a magna cum laude college graduate.
"It wasn't easy," he said. "Every guy who does this and does it with integrity deserves a hats-off."
About 200 of Putnamville Correctional Facility's more than 2,400 inmates received degrees, diplomas or certificates this past week during the prison's annual graduation ceremonies. Butler was one of 53 inmates to receive his college degree this past week -- he earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from Indiana State University.
Butler was sent to prison after being convicted of dealing in methamphetamine, carjacking and auto theft.
"I had no idea this was possible," Butler said. "When I first arrived at prison, there was nothing you could do but work in the kitchen. "As soon as this was available, I signed up. It's been a miracle in and of itself."
Butler would like to continue his education with a master's degree. He has consider career paths such as psychology and addiction counseling.
"But I'll dig ditches, flip burgers or do whatever I have to do to stay out of prison," he said.
Butler said he has had drug problems on and off for about 20 years, and that he has been alcoholic for longer than that. While in prison, he has delved into Christian principle-based recovery programs, which he believes will keep him clean on the outside.
Butler is set to be released from prison on July 16. He plans to relocate to Peoria, Ill., where one of his three children lives.
With his recovery and education both on track, Butler now considers having been sent to prison almost a stroke of luck.
"I feel better and have been happier the last five years than I ever have been, and I've been in prison," he said. "Isn't that crazy?"
Twenty-four-year-old Tommie Lyles of Indianapolis has been a Putnamville inmate for four-and-a-half years.
Lyles had graduated from high school and was getting ready to go to college when he was sent to prison.
Even though his goal of earning a college degree was postponed a bit, he has achieved it -- he graduated Thursday with a degree in AutoCAD from Ivy Tech Community College.
AutoCAD is a computer aided design software application for two-dimensional or three-dimensional design and drafting. Lyles took classes for five semesters.
"I kind of like animated movies," Lyles said. "That's how I got interested in AutoCAD."
Lyles knows he may face a tough road in getting a job with a felony on his record. He is serving time for armed robbery, and is slated for release from prison on July 24.
"I'm always going to have that stereotype," he said. "But my instructors have told me that not a lot of people can do what I can do, so if I'm willing to really work and really do the job people will probably be willing to help me out. I guess I'm going to find out if that's true."
Lyles' parents, who still live in the Indianapolis area, attended their son's graduation ceremony.
"Having a degree makes me feel good," Lyles said. "I like going to class. I want to go on to Indiana State and get my bachelor's degree."
When Eddie Perez, 23, was convicted in Marion County on seven separate felony counts of burglary and theft in April 2007, he had no idea going to prison would mean getting an education.
He came to prison addicted to prescription drugs and ecstasy.
But last week, Perez was one of several inmates to receive his general equivalency diploma (GED) at this year's graduation ceremony at Putnamville.
Perez has been serving time for two years. His earliest possible release date stands right now at 2017.
Still, Perez has goals for himself.
"I'm definitely going to college," he said with determination.
Perez plans on pursuing a degree in hotel or restaurant management. His focus on making something of himself is due in large part to his dedication to his 2 1/2-year-old daughter and doing right by her.
"She's the first thing in my life now," he said.
Perez's parents have also been a great source of support for him.
"My parents have been with me through this whole thing," he said. "I thought I had friends out there, but it turned out my family was all I had."
Perez plans on walking out of prison -- and into the workforce -- with his head held high.
"We're just trying to get our second chance in society," he said. "I'm confident. I have all the confidence in the world."
Adam Gaunt, 34, was sent to Putnamville Correctional Facility in 2006 after being convicted in Allen County on a felony battery charge. He had never been incarcerated before.
"I was drunk, the other guy was drunk, and it just got out of control," he said.
This past week, Gaunt was awarded a certificate in horticulture after completing a course of study at the prison.
"At first, I signed up because I was told people in the horticulture program got to go work outside the fence," Gaunt admitted.
Inmates convicted of Class A or Class B felonies are not allowed to go outside the prison fence. With his Class C conviction Gaunt thought he would be fine.
As it turned out, inmates charged with a certain Class C felony also can't go outside the fence.
"If you have a Class C felony you can't," Gaunt said. "And that's what I have."
Despite his initial disappointment, Gaunt stuck with the horticulture program, working on projects within the prison grounds.
"I ended up having a great time," he said. "At graduation, my grandmother went up to my teacher to tell her she'd been growing tomatoes for 20 years, and I was able to give her advice to make them better."
Presently, Gaunt is also working toward an Indiana State University degree in liberal arts, with a concentration on human interaction
"I never would have even thought that would be something I would pursue," Gaunt said.
Gaunt, whose out date is in early 2012, knows there are those that have a problem with inmates receiving free college educations.
"Look at it this way," he said. "It costs $30,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate. It costs $4,900 for me to get a college education. Recidivism goes down from 50 percent for inmates who don't get an education to 5 percent for those who do. I've done essays and speeches on that very topic."