Abdul ‘Malik,’ 41

Abdul ‘Malik,’ 41

Meet Malik…

…I entered prison without knowing how to read and write, so I taught myself. I never understood the importance of education until I got locked up.

Incarcerated: 22 years
Housed: Stateville Correctional Facility, Illinois

I have watched my relatives grow old – through pictures, then I had to watch those same pictures turn into obituaries. I no longer have a place to call home, I do not have a home to go home to. I have been incarcerated longer than I have been free. I have spent 22 years in prison for a crime I did not commit. I entered prison without knowing how to read and write, so I taught myself.

I never understood the importance of education until I got locked up. Recently I received an 8-0 a favorable decision from the Illinois torture inquiry relief commission. I was tortured and framed by a former sergeant. A person that the Federal courts have recognized as not having credibility. My court date is February 14, 2022, and I hope to prove my innocence. Judge Flood is presiding, here in Chicago, Illinois.

I am asking the global community to pray and come out to the courthouse and stand with me because I am afraid. Like so many others who have died in prison recently, I may never get the chance because of my pre-existing conditions – tuberculosis, hypertension and obesity, which places me in grave danger if I were to contract Covid-19. I am petrified! The outbreak here represents an unprecedented threat to men and women who are currently incarcerated. It is rapidly spreading among the prisoners and staff. 📸 Malik’s



Todd, 33

Todd, 33

Meet Todd…

…Isolated. Anxiety ridden. Helpless. Inhumane. All of these sum up how I’ve been forced to feel about myself over the past two years.


Incarcerated: 10 years
Housed: Stateville Correctional Center

Cry For Help

Deaths due to drug overdose have reached an all time high in America and there doesn’t seem to be any brakes on the runaway train. This is the reality we face in 2022, but the lost and forgotten in prisons across America deal with the same struggle. The difference? We’re property of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The cells we live in should be condemned! Cockroaches nest in the walls. The water we are forced to drink causes illnesses. IDOC says, “Nothing is wrong with the drinking water,” however staff and outside visitors are told NOT TO DRINK THE WATER. We need water to survive, but the commissary has not sold bottled water in 4 months. Dayrooms and yard times are denied due to short staffing. Just stay in your cells and dwell on Covid-19. Do not ask for help or complain. Stateville doesn’t care.

Christmas 2020 we weren’t allowed in person visits – the vaccines had not yet been distributed. Christmas 2021, Stateville goes on a “Medical Lockdown,” due to officers testing positive. No visits from my 73 year old parents. December 24th, I’m watching the Wizarding and escaping into childhood memories of Harry Potter. Stateville, supposedly “Short Staffed” due to another covid outbreak, somehow has the officers to do cell shakedowns on Christmas Eve. I do my best to go along, not make waves, but I COULD NOT COMPREHEND why I was being pulled out of my cell at this time.

As a man of faith I’m supposed to turn the other cheek, but what happens when you run out of cheeks? Taking “medicine” along with blood pressure pills was my remedy that night. Under the Covid-19 quarantine, I’ve tattooed myself from head to toe, been to segregation twice, and had debilitating depression and anxiety. Prison itself brings about isolation. COVID cut off all in person contact with the outside world. The lack of humanity and personal connection has been crippling for me.

Will you help me keep my sanity in an institution that views me as nothing more than a product on a shelf that will expire and simply be thrown out? Will you step into my pain? Acknowledge my humanity and tell me that it’ll be ok?



Courtney, 37

Courtney, 37

Meet Courtney…


…Prison is where the leaders of American policies, society and the educational system send all the disasters. Our mistakes become everyone’s mistakes.



Incarcerated: 6 years
Housed: Mark W. Stiles Unit, Texas

Life behind bars is a test of survival. It’s a segment of our society behind the times. We’re segregated, with little outside access. Beyond a few TV channels, there’s guys around me who’ve never seen a computer, a cell phone or a modern transportation center. What happens is a crippling effect that hurts all of society. Like someone who has their growth stunted as an adolescent so they end up losing out as an adult.

Prison is filled with men who never got to grow up, never traveled, never got to explore the world outside their neighborhoods. Add in most didn’t graduate high school, broken home, dysfunctional upbringing, all this makes for a disaster waiting to happen. Prison is where the leader of American policies, society and the educational system send all the disasters. Our mistakes become everyone’s mistakes. Institutional slavery is free labor, while the wealthy with shares in correctional corporations make a profit off misery.

If the prison complex worked, nobody would come back. Especially not repeatedly. But the pattern of criminal behavior is not broken because the officials who make the laws, policies and politics don’t want to fix it. Because they profit too much. Anybody who doesn’t feel as if any of this makes a difference. Has never been in a situation where someone with a small sentence like four years gets put in a cell with someone with 60 years.

What do you think happens? Now, say one’s black and one’s white. Someone fresh in the system – gets thrown in with the wolves. Beasts, predators who hate the world, who have never known true love, who have been abused and tortured daily by law enforcement. The new guy has no clue of how messed up this world on the inside is. Eat or be eaten, prey or become a predator. There’s no love, no compassion.

They get out and what? Do they really expect anyone to become upstanding members of society? Really? After coming from this cruel, cold world of concrete walls, foul tasting food, racism. Well maybe it works for a few, but the many? Not so much. How is it that we have so many smart people in this country but no one has come up with a new way to correct criminal behavior in our less fortunate citizens. There’s many innovative approaches, but who among us have the will, dedication, and compassion to try. As long as we leave them forgotten, left out, and tortured, we lose as a people, a society and as a nation.



Marcus, 37

Marcus, 37

Meet Marcus…


…The ‘Game’ gave me a rare opportunity to proverbially speak to my younger self, it pains me to admit that I failed to reach him.



Incarcerated: 16 years
Housed: Stafford Creek Corrections Center, Washington

Andre was not as fortunate as I was to survive his mistakes. Shortly after his release, he was killed by just one bullet. My experience and hardships were not enough to dissuade Andre from returning to the ‘Game’, making the same mistakes. Into my hands, the ‘Game’ had placed the opportunity of preventing my younger brother from making the same mistakes…it pains me to admit that I let the chance slip between my fingers….

Although I tried there is no way that I said or did enough, otherwise, Andre may very well still be here today. I should have said or done more, now it’s my passion to do and say more. The ‘Game’ gave me a rare opportunity to proverbially speak to my younger self…it pains me to admit that I failed to reach him. I re-entered prison for the second time in 2005 when I was 21 years old.

Ten years later my younger brother Andre followed in my footsteps, joining me behind bars. I quickly recognized that his present outlook on life and future plans upon his release sounded exactly as mine did prior to my last release. Those who know me know where that type of thinking led me – five bullets to the body and a 26 year sentence.

Aside from my own personal consequences, my choices also caused unjust suffering to many others, including my son, who has been forced to grow up without a present father. My brother Andre and I are only two examples of the consequences that come with a life in the ‘Game’.

There are millions of other young Marcus and Andres out there facing the same choices we once faced. Please help me reach them before they make the same mistakes we once did. 📸 Marcus’



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.

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