Anthony, 37

Anthony, 37

Meet Anthony…

I came to prison a person that deserved to have my freedom taken. Today, I feel regret and shake my head at my shameful adolescence – I can’t change.

Anthony, 37
Incarcerated: 19 years
Housed: Lewis Corrections Department, Buckeye, Arizona

I came to prison a person that deserved to have my freedom taken. Someone said, “You’re too young to spend the rest of your life in prison,” but I belonged hidden and out of sight. What I didn’t know: I wasn’t ready to be thought of as anything more than a condemned kid. I’ve grown up in here. I’ve had a long time to accept my fate. I’ve been able to dust myself off and get out of the negative emotional mindset – to emerge now – hopeful. Today, I feel regret and shake my head at my shameful adolescence – I can’t change. It would’ve been nice to reach out to people outside of my environment. Spending half my life behind prison walls, it’s unfortunate that I haven’t had much, if any steady communication or positive support to influence me. I hate the stigma of being looked at as a criminal, but it is true.  I really ain’t got nothing left to lose. Maybe when I’m old and my health starts to fail, I’ll be given the opportunity to be released? All I know in this confinement, I might even be institutionalized. I would think after spending almost two decades in here, I would have gotten better at expressing myself, but it’s hard to communicate my thoughts without sounding like a stereotype and full of myself.The only major thing I’ve gotten used to in this place, is the isolation. It has both its good and bad qualities. Isolation has become an easy tool to distract myself. I occupy my thoughts with learning. After I received my GED, I realized I’ve been the one holding myself back. Education is really important, and when I first arrived I had none. I got used to how prison used to be, but it seems with the new prison tablets, a whole new world has opened up.  In the ol’ days we were simply treated as nobodies, animals.  I would have never thought in a million years that I would hold a tablet in here, listening to music, video games and movies. Just a few years ago I would be lucky to have had a written response and was requesting library books. I enjoyed writing this even if I am totally oblivious to anyone who could be reading this. I’m writing to write.

Fredrick, 53

Housed: US Federal Penitentiary, Tucson 

Inmates because of their incarceration, have lost the favor of being a citizen. Many people believe that anyone in prison is the “worst of the worst” and thus deserves any hardships they receive. 

To counter that, you’d have to believe that the US judicial process is perfect: that EVERY person convicted was done so fairly. I ask, do you believe EVERY person sentenced was done fairly? Do you truly believe the judicial system is 100% accurate or merciful? We’ve established that the judicial system isn’t perfect, now are you willing to believe that sometimes people are falsely accused? If even ONE case shows that an inmate was falsely accused, then the belief stands that every inmate deserves to be re-examined. I’m not saying every inmate got robbed of justice; to be sure, many people need to be here. But I’d like you to consider that many times, the courts get it wrong for two basic reasons: one, human error, and two with malice. There’s a common term used in the inmate appeal process called “Ineffective Assistance of Counsel”. What does that mean? Often, especially in federal courts, the accused is assigned a public defender, who is supposed to represent the accused. The problem is that the public defender works for the court, not the accused. That person gets paid whether they win their case or not. Public defenders don’t get a penny more for properly defending the accused. If they have ten clients, none of them paying, do you really think they will spend 30 hours a week on a guy sitting in jail, when he or she has nine other identical cases, NONE of which is going to net them an extra dollar? Public defenders often don’t give their client their best effort, basically going through the motions, leading the accused to take a plea, making their workload easier. The accused gives up on his rights or if they take it to court, gets the minimal help. Only when he gets to prison, after he’s found guilty, does he find out the critical errors his public defender made that could have saved him, or at least reduced his sentence… thus ineffective assistance of counsel. Many guys in prison didn’t get a fair trial, so have a little compassion

Lavont, 50

Meet Lavont…

I know for a fact that a dog’s perfect day consists of love from his human. I read that dogs love us unconditionally, and they forgive us no matter what we do, or have done.

I worked as a police officer in Miami-Dade county. As a lover of animals, especially dogs, I really miss the interaction with them. I know dogs need and rely on humans for love and care. I know for a fact that a dog’s perfect day consists of love from his human. I read that dogs love us unconditionally, and they forgive us no matter what we do, or have done. I had a dog named 2 pac, who I raised as a puppy. I can remember getting so upset at him when he would use the floor as his toilet. Once, when I came home from working a 10 hour shift, he was there looking up at me with eyes that were so innocent. I yelled at him, and he began to shake, then an inner voice told me that I have been at work for over 10 hours and it wasn’t his fault. I changed my tone to a soft voice and he was still shaking with fear. I gave him a nice, firm hug, and he immediately returned my love and forgiveness by licking my face. I was his human, and he was my dog. I never realized how much I actually loved that dog until he was taken away from me by a dog thief. One night after a stressful day at work, he put his cold nose to my face while I slept, his way of telling me he needed to go out. I was too tired to go downstairs, lazily I opened the door to let him out.  He was always good about coming back and scratching on the door when he wanted to come back in. When that scratch at the door didn’t come ten minute later, I immediately got up and went to look for him. He was nowhere to be found. Everyone in my building said they saw him heading back to my door, as he always did. I put up a reward of $2,500.00 for his safe return with no questions asked. I couldn’t sleep and I could not function properly without his love. I lost the love of my life that night because I was too lazy to give him a few minutes of attention and love.

I learned a lot from 2pac.  

I learned that when you love someone, you never take shortcuts. 

I learned that you provide the attention and love that you know that they need.

As an innocent federal inmate, I now need that same love and attention that my beloved 2pac needed on that night. When God provides it to me again in a person or an animal, I will never take it for granted. I will not take shortcuts on my love for them.

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