Todd, 60

Todd, 60

Meet Todd…

Education and my desire to be a better man became my saving grace. It allowed me to continue to foster a solid foundation with my daughters.

Todd “Silk”, 60
Incarcerated: 25 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, CA

Upon receiving a life sentence, I thought my life was over. When I got arrested I had four daughters ages 5, 7, 8, and 11. My greatest fear was that my girls would grow up hating me. After all, it was my selfish acts and irresponsible decisions that took me out of their lives. How would I be able to convince them of my love, after putting so many other things ahead of them?

In my journey of self-discovery, I found the one avenue that allowed me to build that connection with my girls, education. I always wondered why people volunteer and I chalked it up to ulterior motives. I decided to assist someone with their math homework. It was that day I understood the joy and fulfillment of giving back to someone, expecting nothing in return. I’d always been a whiz at math, so I immersed myself into tutoring others in the subject. I then became one of the founding members of a group solely dedicated to helping incarcerated men earn their high school diploma. I continued to preach the importance of education in my letters to my daughters. Somehow I knew just mere words would not be enough.

I got back into college myself, while working as a tutor. I now had three daughters in college and one soon to enter. We began a healthy competition amongst us when it came to college grades. I was earning A’s and B’s and challenged them to do the same. My girls were able to see I was striving to be a better person regardless of my circumstances. I watched my daughters excel in college as I beamed with pride. Little did I know they too beamed with pride at my accomplishments. It was education that kept me connected to my daughters.

I had one younger sister that was my best friend and biggest supporter. She was proud of my accomplishments, not only in education but as a person. She attended my very first college graduation here at the prison, and passed away shortly after in her battle with cancer. My heart was broken, as this was the fourth member of my family I had lost while incarcerated- grandmother, father, mother and sister. My hurdles seemed insurmountable but I refused to give up. To date I have earned four associates degrees.

Education and my desire to be a better man became my saving grace. It allowed me to continue to foster a solid foundation with my daughters. All my hard work paid off and I was found suitable for parole and will be released in September, 2023. Education and my determination allowed me to hold onto the love of my daughters and they look forward to meeting me at the gate, my day of release. Upon release, I will continue to make my life one of service and helping others because these very things returned me to the man I was meant to be, my authentic self.

Michael, 43

Michael, 43

Meet Michael…

After turning 19 in prison, I was sick of trying to understand the wrongs I was witnessing. So I cut my throat on both sides so deep that I blacked out.

Michael, 43
Incarcerated: 14 yrs
Housed: Alfred D. Hughes Unit, Gatesville, Texas

Months after turning 19 in prison, I was sick of trying to understand the wrongs I was witnessing. So I cut my throat on both sides so deep that I blacked out. By some miracle, I was barely breathing when they found me. After getting 16 stitches on both sides of my neck, I was sent for a mental evaluation. Back at my unit, I wanted to cry. I’ve never been suicidal! Looking at myself in a mirror, I realized I needed help. I’ve been raised up in the church, and that never got my attention. I’ve had homeboys and money, but still got into trouble. There were girlfriends in my life, but still something wasn’t right. I’ve gangbanged, been to parties and clubs, yet still I’ve had no peace. I’ve talked to doctors and counselors, still nothing good connected. Coming to prison, I’ve tried Islam, and my heart still felt troubled. It’s like I’ve done it all, and yet, nothing helps. In my desperate time of need, I felt hopeless.

Suddenly I felt an urge to pray. I didn’t know why, praying never done anything for me before. However, this urge seemed different. I fell to my knees in the middle of that cell and said, “If there’s really a God of all things, then I ask you Almighty God to help me understand the good and evil I’m going through, and I will give my life to you.” After saying amen, I got up not expecting anything to happen. Looking around my cell for some entertainment, my eyes landed on the Holy Bible and something led me to pick it up. I don’t know why, because I could barely read it. I’ve never understood it before. After picking it up, it fell open and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – there was a small image of a lightning display. It was just hovering between the pages. I assumed I was just hallucinating. So I closed my eyes and reopened them, and sure enough, it was still there. That’s when a notion came over me to attempt to touch it. So I led my left finger towards it in the hopes of feeling it, but to my surprise, it began to fade away. The urge came over me to go to the beginning of the Bible where I was led to read Genesis chapter one, two, and stopped at three. I hadn’t noticed how easy it was for me to read it as I’ve never done before until that moment. It truly scared me wondrously. My body didn’t feel the same. Something was happening.

I began to pray a new prayer. I said, “In Jesus’ name I pray, if you are real, then I’m asking you to help me beat my charges I’m indicted with. If you let me go home, I ask that you give me a son whom I will give to you. If you allow me to have a wife, please allow her to be someone you would come for, don’t let her be someone to impress the world with, and please let her believe in you. Then, give me a sign to know it’s her because I don’t want to be confused! Let our love join us together and take her away from the undeserving pain she’s receiving from perhaps her family, friends, or loved ones. In your mighty name I pray, Amen. I made it home. My brother Eric hooked me up with this Black girl days later. She became pregnant with my child, and we set a day to get married. But she went against the agreement once that day arrived, so I broke off from her, and told her I’d be there for my son when he arrived, but I couldn’t stand her lies. Days later, I met this Mexican chick who just out of nowhere came up to me and said, “I think you’d like my homegirl Scooter.” But she didn’t tell me what she looked like, or give me her number. Then she walked away. I didn’t dwell too much on it at the time. But three days later, I met a girl at my aunt’s place, and that whisper said, “She’s the one.” Me and the girl fell in love, then later I realized her a.k.a. was Scooter. The name was God’s sign to me. Then I found out that she’s not being loved by her family on her mom’s side, because her mom was full Mexican and her dad was a White guy. Scooter was only five years old when somebody in her family pushed her mom in front of a car and killed her because they were mad at her being with a White guy. It was hard for me to believe this at first until I met her family. Before, Scooter had told me how her Mexican grandmother had taken her into custody along with her two sisters and brother. She was not completely loved due to her being mixed. She said her grandmother allowed her mom’s brother to molest her. Then she told me that we had to elope if we wanted to get married. So we did! After getting married and God showed me he was behind our union, and finding out that she believed in Christ, I told her I was gonna take care of her problems, but she didn’t want me to go back to prison.

Now I’m doing 60 years. Sadly, Scooter is no longer with me, she has passed away due to being brokenhearted. My family thinks someone killed her, or perhaps she killed herself. And I’m wondering if I’ll ever know the truth.

Dale, 56

Dale, 56


Meet Dale…

My blood beats her name.

Dale, 56
Incarcerated: 17 years
Housed: McPherson Unit, Newport, Arkansas

I want to share my late son’s memory, for closure not only for me but his siblings as well, his name was Marshall.
Here is his last poem before he died in protective custody, he was also in prison, he was 32.

What makes me tick?
With my soul scraping the bottomless pit of hell prison while looking for a sign of peace, I manage to encounter an angel that oversees my future. It’s almost like a miracle sent from God. I’m facing what seems to be the most exciting part of my life: At the most damaging time of my world. My guardian angel knows my heart and intentions and wants the best for me. She knows and wants to please each and everyone of my lustful desires. I can’t stop thinking about her because without her, I’ll die spiritually, emotionally and possibly physically. The breath she exhales is the enacted air I need to be happy. She holds my heart in her hand and has the ability to crush it to pieces at any time. My mind is wrapped around her soul like a wedding ring. I pray to God she never takes it off. My blood beats her name. My life is helpless without her skin. When she looks at me my body gets hot and my hands want to touch her in the most delicate ways. Even though I’m bound, she sets me free. I promise never to leave her side. I promise never to let go of her grasp. Baby, don’t ever let go of me. You are my air and I can’t go on without you. You make me feel like a man. I won’t ever stop loving you. So will you guide me to heaven?

Charlie, 47

Meet Charlie…

I share these snippets to say, you never stop being a dad. My girls are grown now, but they will always be ‘daddy’s girls’. I may not be with them, but I’m always here for them.

Charlie, 47
Incarcerated: 15
Housed: Valley State Prison, Chowchilla, CA

There are some memories you don’t forget. Mine happens to be of my girls. They say you never stop being a dad and I follow that idea as best as I can. My babies are the only thing I wake up for, they are my reasons for pushing on, I may not be able to hold and kiss them, but I’m always here for them.

When I was 19, my oldest was still in her mother’s tummy. I was forced to make a decision in my hometown where there weren’t many jobs straight out of high school. Knowing I had this little one coming, I needed to do something. So I gave up my life to the US Army to give a life to my unborn daughter. I didn’t think twice and I didn’t blink, it was all for my daughter and my budding family. That choice paved the way for my oldest to see other states and countries. My sacrifice gave her clothes, food, and shelter. It also introduced her to different cultures, places, foods, and a whole score of experiences. On the other hand, she gave me motivation, strength, and desire to be all I could be. If I needed one more push to go one more mile, all I had to do was to think about my baby girl.

Fast forward a few years, I had left the army behind, and was in a new relationship and expecting my second child. When my youngest was born I wanted nothing more than to hold her and do better for her. I drove a cube van and delivered furniture from sun up to sun down in Toronto. I didn’t care if it was all for my little angel.

The two best memories I have are of my girls. I was a real big fan of the singer, Eminem. One day I had the song, My Dad’s Gone Crazy, playing. I noticed my daughter was smiling and singing along, so I turned down the radio and my daughter didn’t skip a beat. She kept singing, “I think my dad has gone crazy!” I smiled like a Cheshire cat that day.

The other memory is of my youngest, we were going to Walmart to get her picture taken in her first easter dress. She would sit there, but she wouldn’t smile. It didn’t matter if it was the photographer with her toys, her mother, or her brother making funny faces. She would only smile when I stood behind the camera after the picture was taken. Then, she jumped into my arms and wouldn’t let go. I still have that picture with me now.

I share these snippets to say, you never stop being a dad. My girls are grown now, but they will always be “daddy’s girls.” I may not be with them, but I’m always here for them. One day I’ll see them again and I just hope they can forgive me for not being there. They are my life.

Morgan, 33

Morgan, 33


Meet Morgan…

Prison has been a roller coaster of self exploration and a chance to see the world around me with a clear mind.

Morgan, 33
Incarcerated: 2.5 years
Housed: Wyoming Women’s Center, Lusk, WY

I never felt good enough for a good guy because of my abusive past relationships. I had little to no self-worth. I’m trying to break the patterns now and it’s deeper than my relationships with others, it’s finding out who I am and what good I can put back into the world. It seems like my first experience with loss and heartache threw me into a dangerous self-destructive whirlwind and I’ve never quite been able to reel myself back in. It was like only other broken people magnetized to me and I guess that’s part of the law of attraction. Love has changed so much over the years.

When I was young it was new, bright, and airy. Love now feels like an achy, empty dark hole in my heart. I am a broken person, but I’m not going to waste the time I am here, leaving the pieces on the ground. I am doing my best to piece it back together into a beautiful mosaic of different chapters of my life. I’ve been through some crazy stuff since being incarcerated… Finding out I was pregnant, realizing my family and I could not raise her, choosing an adopted family, going through the heartache of not keeping my child after birth, being handed down a life altering sentence, and finding myself again. It has been a roller coaster of self exploration and a chance to see the world around me with a clear mind. I’ve realized most of my so-called friends were not going to be by my side, and I’ve learned to be okay alone. I’m in a different state where I don’t have one familiar face, but I’m alive and I know I will come out better on the other side. Thank you for letting me share. And to you, our Humans of SQ audience – thank you for being here.

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