Meet Mohammed…

I live in a box. This reality is made tangible every time I open my eyes.

Mohammed, 43
Incarcerated: 19 years
Housed: Sing Sing Correctional Facility, New York

I live in a box. This reality is made tangible every time I open my eyes. This wasn’t always apparent to me until I took my first outside medical trip. The transport officer asked me if I was ok, which was weird because small talk is not normally encouraged. I wouldn’t have noticed if it wasn’t for the fact that he and his back-up officer asked me several other times while I was being handcuffed and shackled if I was “OK.” At this point I started to ask myself, “What’s going on here?” The reason became apparent when we pulled up to the outside gates: this was going to be my first time outside of these prison walls in 15 years. I can still remember the day. It was raining and everything had that clean mineral smell, like a freshly washed chalkboard. As we pulled away from the gates and onto normal roads, I was assailed with new images. Cars were different and everyone had a smartphone held to their heads. Within ten minutes we were on the highway and the world that I have been living in for over a decade became a thing that grew smaller the farther we drove away. I felt small. All the problems and concerns I had about my environment became small as well. It was at that moment that I realized I lived in a small microcosm of reality, a place that had almost no impact on the people I saw living their lives around me. I was made painfully aware how removed I am from the real world and how unprepared I am to rejoin it.

As I get closer to my release date, I’m reminded of that day. I try to let petty things go while I’m in here, because I know that, besides my memories and experiences, I won’t be taking anything else with me. I now see this box my fellow brothers and I live in as a place so small when compared to the expanse of the world. My hope is that as I get farther away from this box, my world will expand and I will be able to take my place in this world that has so many beautiful things to offer. Until then, I have to lock in…


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