During our journey of sharing the unheard voices behind bars, we’ve encountered a generous amount of stories that were both touching & inspirational. Within these stories, people have disclosed their personal experiences, both good & bad, of what life was like before prison, in addition to their current living conditions behind bars. These testimonies exude positivity, self-awareness, & growth, which are all necessary to successfully re-enter a normal, healthy life outside of prison. The following selections are a culmination of highlighted quotes from these stories.
“I’m deeply humbled and I truly respect my detriment as lessons and my benefits as blessings.”
“My life was a horrible mess I had serious problems and I was the last one to know it. I made a stupid decision that warm night in June that cost me my freedom, family and destroyed my character.”
“I am grateful for my family and friends who have supported me in my recovery and rehabilitation. They have shown me what unconditional love and forgiveness look like and accepted me for who I am today.”
“I’ve learned that domestic violence isn’t a crime of passion, an anger problem, snapping, losing control, or fostered by substance abuse. It is about power. And control. And it is always a choice.”
“My incarceration has been a lot of things; but one thing it hasn’t been, is a waste of time. At the beginning, as a screwed up teenager, I looked up at prison and the 30 years I had to do, as some great behemoth that would surely crush me. Now, I can’t imagine who I would have become without it. Sometimes, life can be a gift like that.”
“By using my breath and breathing in, I could feel each tragic event and all who had been affected by them. Breathing out, I sent loving kindness and compassion to all who have been affected by those events. In doing this, I’m practicing the offering of joy, happiness, and love.”
“I don’t blame anyone for how I was raised. I understand my parents, no one is perfect. We all have our struggles and demons we deal with.”
“I am a black man.
I am a son, a brother, a friend.
I am an athlete, a musician, and a journalist.
I am a man that has many workable skills.
I am a God fearing man.
I am honest and I have compassion for others.
I am in touch with my emotions.
I can say with my head held high, that I am a feminist.”
Anthony “Ant,” 37
“I wanted to hear my mother’s voice, that voice that’s comforting, that voice that will tell me it’s going to be ok.”
“I am not a special person, I am a regular person who does special things. I do my part. I am rewarded when others do theirs.”
“I have learned to love me again. I have learned to speak about my pain instead of masking it, to control my anger while understanding it is normal. It’s what you do with that anger that makes all the difference.”
“I made a conscious effort to become a better person regardless of my circumstances. This effort began with finding a way to love myself. In order to do that, I looked no further than those who love me…my family.”
“I know this may sound crazy, but I thank God I came to prison because now I’m learning to be a positive example to my babies and God willing I will leave here someone they can be proud of.”
“I had done nothing to deserve my daughter’s love. Yet, her tenderness enabled the seed to be implanted in my heart that would start my journey of self-reflection and change.”
“We are blessed that our chaplin treats us like human beings, not outcasts.”
“As tough as I tried to stay, each time I witnessed another person being brutally beaten, viciously stabbed or a person, just like me, dying from an overdose, it changed me, it put cracks on my barrier.”
Tommy “Shakur,” 54
“He treated me with respect, acknowledging my humanity in spite of my incarcerated status.”
“This is my neice, Lacey she loved me long enough for me to learn to love myself.”