Chimezie, 40

Chimezie, 40

Meet Chimezie…

Through her letters, poetry, song lyrics, phone calls, visits, deep thought provoking conversation, and mental stimuli, Beauty helped me elevate beyond the wallows of my self pity.

Chimezie, 40
Incarcerated: 20 years
Housed: Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, Shirley, Massachusetts

In the early years of my bid, I never slowed down long enough to write letters. I was always in some form of trouble. If I wasn’t lifting weights, I was chasing someone who owed money. If I wasn’t in the hole, I was headed to the hole. An intellectual connection with a female was the last thing on my mind. I lived in a crime college, and criminality served as my solace. That changed when a friend introduced me to a young lady, I’ll call Beauty.

Beauty and I began exchanging letters, then phone calls, and eventually she came to the prison to visit me. I remained non-committal and detached. My primary focus was on the wrong things. In 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court denied my direct appeal, and the reality of a lifetime prison sentence became a realistic reality. I was devastated. I was on the floor y’all. I tried to pull away from Beauty, but she pulled me closer to her. Through her letters, poetry, song lyrics, phone calls, visits, deep thought provoking conversation, and mental stimuli, Beauty helped me elevate beyond the wallows of my self pity. My mind was able to transcend the imposed limitations of prison and depression, through Beauty’s otherworldly devotion to our bond. Beauty nurtured me back to form with love. When I was close to defeat, I rose to my feet. The universe sent me an angel that changed the trajectory of my life. I’m humbled and forever grateful.I’ve learned firsthand, love is the only emotion strong enough to override human nature. Love is divine power. Inspiration through love is a divine influencer.

To Beauty, you saved me from myself. To the women loving incarcerated citizens of our communities despite conventional wisdom telling them to do otherwise: You are the heartbeat of an often forgotten tribe. To my fellow incarcerated citizens, follow your hearts, and dare to love. Love truly conquers all. May peace be with you. Always and forever.

David, 43

David, 43

Meet David…

…I’ve been incarcerated 18 ½ years thus far. My road to manhood was anything but smooth, but I’m thankful for every heartache, hardship, and road bump along the way. For it was these valuable life lessons that made me the man I am today.

Incarcerated: 18 ½ years
Housed: Massachusetts Correctional Institution – Concord, MA

I’m always in a space to help support and push a positive agenda forward. I’m from Brooklyn NY, born and raised, but my former lifestyle led to a life in the name of profit, which is why I’m in a Massachusetts prison. I’ve been incarcerated 18 ½ years. My road to manhood was anything but smooth, but I’m thankful for every heartache, hardship, and road bump along the way.

In my spiritual beliefs I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe all things happen by divine order, so maybe, just maybe, your choosing me to write among whomever you did was divine order. Why do I say that? Because of the work I already do. I’m heavily invested in community outreach work, political engagement inside and outside prison walls.

I put together events within the community and events behind the wall. I’m tied to and work with organizations throughout the state creating meaningful policies and legislation towards prison reform. I’m the lead facilitator here and founder of “Restorative Justice Working Group” in which I work with the directors of the University of Massachusetts [UMASS Boston]. I organize all restorative justice-related events. I’m also enrolled in Emerson College [Boston]; I’m 6 classes away from my double BA.

The list goes on, but those are just some of the things that consume my life day to day. I seldom have moments to breathe, however, I respect what you’re doing, and I want to reach back out to see if we can open a line of communication, and begin to outline how you see that I can help you and your crew grow beyond merely just sending you a photo and post.

I therefore would like to possibly open a dialogue I have about your non-profit so that I may assess best what I can possibly do to assist your agenda, whether that be getting people to send photos and post, or thinking a little bigger and you and your team doing something like a “Humans of Massachusetts” version for your non-profit. Just two of many ideas we can visit. So this is me extending my hand. I really respect what you’re doing and wish you and your team nothing but success. Hope to hear from you soon.

Arthur, 39

Arthur, 39

Meet Arthur…

Billy – this is Pit, if you read this I want to thank you. Way back then – you changed my life and I doubt you knew it!

Incarcerated: 19 years
Housed: Massachusetts Correctional Institute, Shirley

I wanted to die. I bought a gram of heroin and planned on going to sleep without waking up. I was in a Florida State Prison and everyone there felt the same. I never knew rest. During the day we kept on point for other cons and at night the guards would get you. I felt like I was living in hell. I lashed out at everyone becoming what prison said I should be.

After violence filled days and years in solitary confinement, I was shipped out of state to the federal system on some “diesel therapy.” New York, Oklahoma, Colorado and a few other stops until I was dumped off at Florida State Prison in Raiford. I stabbed a guy over a debt he didn’t pay, so they stuck me on Death Row, in the ‘disciplinary for violence’ section without being sentenced to die. I waited for the guard to finish count and set up my heroin shot that would drop an elephant; just as I was about to stick the needle in my arm, my neighbor knocked on the bars and asked me for a battery to light a smoke.

I never spoke to this guy before, but after a five-minute conversation, I learned his name was Billy and he was waiting on a death sentence. He had been there twenty years. I asked him why he was still fighting and he said “I refuse to be the state’s entertainment” and told me how the guards would almost throw a party every time one of the Death Row inmates died.

I never told him what I was up to but hearing his story got some wheels turning in my head. I flushed the rig and dope that night and from that point on I worked on myself. I’m doing about as good as someone in my position could. I am in a program to train dogs for other veterans so hopefully they won’t make the same choices I did.

I finally made it to a medium-security prison after eight years in segregation and although I do have a lot of time left I’m hoping that will change. Everything else has!
PS: Oh yeah, Billy. This is Pit, if you read this then I want to thank you. Way back then – you changed my life and I doubt you knew it!

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