Keith, 31

Keith, 31

Meet Keith…

I haven’t heard from Corey, but I talk to his mom and his sisters. I thank him for showing me true friendship, and installing a passion in me to help others.

Keith, 31
Incarcerated: 10 years
Housed: Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, Delaware

My cousin and I walked onto the bus and immediately started acting like fools with this quiet, real chill kid in the back row. A couple days later, I’m walking down the street and the kid from the back row talks to me. He invited me into his home. I ate crabs along with his family. I met my best friend that day. His name was Corey. We hung out everyday after that, and stayed at each other’s houses. He knew he could do whatever he wanted at my house, and being around his family was a breath of fresh air for me. His household was one I’d only seen on TV, two parents, two sisters and dinner at the table every night. When my fridge was empty his mom welcomed me in and fed me. He never judged me for being dirty, wearing messy clothes, or my mom smoking crack. When I was down he always lifted me up. He showed me the real definition of friendship.

What I learned from him I carried into adulthood. He taught me to literally take the clothes off my back for others, to feed the homeless, and to pay for families to be housed at hotels. I was still out causing people harm, killing my community at the same time and building it up. I was a hypocrite. Twenty years of my life is taken away for those actions, yet my passion to help people has overpowered me as a whole. I haven’t heard from Corey, but I talk to his mom and his sisters. I thank him for showing me true friendship, and installing a passion in me to help others.

Greg, 49

Greg, 49

Meet Greg…

After the first bite, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I’m sitting at the table in a crowded chow hall with tears running down my face.

Greg, 49
Incarcerated: 27 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, California

I was really young when I moved to California and we lived right around the corner from her. Her home was my favorite place to be. The sun seemed to always shine on her house. She only had one daughter, so I was the son she never had. She truly adored me. I loved being in her house; there was an energy of love that wasn’t in my house. I remember helping her make sweet potato pies; my job was cutting up the sweet potatoes. It became one of my favorite things to do– help her make sweet potato pies. I remember when I was around seven and I was mad at my mother. I packed my bag,  ran away from home, and told my mother that I’d rather live with my auntie. She was a loving, beautiful, caring person. Her name was Ethel B, but we called her Aunt B. Even after I came to prison, we stayed in touch. She came to visit me a couple of times. But her health got worse and she couldn’t travel.

When she passed away recently, I was heartbroken after getting the news. I had a really hard time dealing with it; she was someone with whom I only had good memories. Also, there are no processes or opportunities for someone to grieve in prison. It’s hard. A few days after her passing, I went to dinner, and they were serving the prison’s favorite meal, chicken-on-the-bone. I grabbed my tray and noticed something strange on the tray. It looked like a sweet potato. I grabbed it and took a bite. It was in fact a sweet potato! After the first bite, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I’m sitting at the table in a crowded chow hall with tears running down my face. It reminded me of Aunt B. I closed my eyes and tasting the sweet potato took away all the pain. The taste brought back beautiful memories of her and her love for me, which got me through the grieving. It was the first time in 29 years that I saw a sweet potato being served in prison. I took it as a sign that Aunt B saw that I was struggling, and she sent me a message. ‘I got you, nephew.’ Instantly, I got better. I love you sweet potato pie! Rest in Paradise.

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