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These teen girls wrote to a notorious mob boss in prison. His response was surprising.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

When three teen girls sent a letter to a notorious mob boss in prison who had killed and tortured people, he wrote back a surprising response: "My life was wasted and spent foolishly, brought shame and suffering on my parents and siblings and will end soon."

The response, reported by the Boston Globe's Shelley Murphy, came from imprisoned 85-year-old gangster James "Whitey" Bulger. It contrasts with the reputation the former Boston crime boss built when he killed at least 11 people, swore at witnesses during his trial, and refused to get on his knees when he was captured because he didn't want to get his pants dirty.

The three 17-year-old girls wrote to Bulger — who is serving two life sentences — for a National History Day competition, seeking his opinion on his legacy. "It wasn't what we were expecting at all," Brittany Tainsh, one of the girls, told Murphy.

Bulger goes on in the letter to describe how he wasted his life by dropping out of high school and pursuing crime, and how his brother — a Massachusetts lawmaker who applied himself in school — turned out much more successful. It concludes with a final piece of advice for the girls: "If you want to make crime pay — 'Go to Law School.'"

Here's the letter, taken from the Boston Globe:

Hello, Brittany:

I'm sorry but I can't help you with your school project — There are many people more deserving of your time and interests. I'm a myth created by the media to help them generate Revenue and to hurt a relation because they didn't appreciate his independence and daring to support an agenda they opposed.

May I suggest you and Molly create a website about the heroic service men of Mass. that are patients in, for instance, Walter Reed Veteran Hospital — good men isolated from society due to war wounds — life for some in pain and loneliness — hearing from school girls that care would do wonders for their morale and recovery.

Don't waste your time on such as I — we are society's lower, best forgotten, not looked to for advice on "Leadership". I'm a 9th grade dropout from school and took the wrong road — my brother 5 years younger applied himself in school and worked hard and spent 40 years in Mass State House and retired and was the President of Mass Senate in State House for second term and President of U. Mass after Retirement. Had 9 children all college graduates and 4 lawyers among them. A Better Man than I.

My life was wasted and spent foolishly, brought shame and suffering on my parents and siblings and will end soon — Advice is a cheap commodity some seek it from me about crime — I know only thing for sure — If you want to make crime pay — "Go to Law School."

Brittany Best of Luck in the future to you and Molly and Michaela.

Sincerely James Bulger