Raheem, 45
Raheem, 45

Meet Raheem…

I want people to look at me, as a human being, I have made mistakes, but I am not defined by those mistakes.

When I think of you taking a picture of me in prison blues, the first thing that comes to my mind is a number, but I’m more than a number. I was a man before I was that number. I was a living human being. I may not have been perfect, but I was a human being with brothers and sisters. That’s the way I want people to look at me, as a human being, I have made mistakes, but I am not defined by those mistakes. 

The person I am today is compassionate, loving, regretful, vulnerable, fearful, but optimistic. I want to rebuild communities that I am responsible for tearing down. I perpetuated a culture that led to the destruction of my community. I am indebted to society, to my family and the victims of my offense.

Once I am out, I want to be of assistance. I want to mimic the work that I do in here, like tutoring in education, teaching emotional intelligence, giving kids other alternatives, like sports programs. Emotional intelligence would be the majority of what I’d do. 

Before coming to prison I didn’t know what peace was. But now as a Muslim and practitioner of Islam, it is important to me, since Islam means peace. Today, I’m much closer to peace than ever before in my life. 

Summary: I am a human first, perfect and imperfect but they do not define me. The good in me preservers and gives me the will to teach others to see the good in them.

At first I was disappointed with myself because I got old in here and spent my whole life in prison. I haven’t had any kids and I feel a deep sense of loss about that. Nevertheless, I realize that I’m proud of myself, because I’m not running from my pain. I’m addressing it, my insecurities and my shame through helping others in my community.