Timothy, 46

Timothy, 46

Meet Timothy…

I wanted to remember my mom with good memories, and the good person she was.

Timothy, 46
Incarcerated: 27 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, CA

The Butterfly
The butterfly represents
Your beauty,
Your beauty carries love.
Don’t let nobody take your love away,
And you will always be beautiful!

Her Majestic Dignity
This poem is to honor my mom, who passed away from cancer. I was in a prison while she was dying of colon and cervical cancer. Even though she was really sick, she still didn’t want me to worry about her. She told me to make her a list and she’d send me a package, which I’d never gotten before. She told me, “Jesus had healed me.” But my sister said, “What are you thinking? She has no hair. She’s dying.” The package never came, but a dark time did. I went into solitary confinement where I was really depressed. I started doing an enhanced outpatient program and with classes and medication, I got to a better place. I wanted to remember my mom with good memories, and the good person she was. She raised four kids by herself, and she did the best she could, what was needed.

Arise, for your highness is now here.
Do favoreth honor and fear.
For her, within all purity is absolute royalty.

Excellent in appearance, such glorious beauty to behold,
Her countenance is of greater radiance than shiny gold.
The splendor of her mighty acts tell all
Her great fame and strong pride mounts up in triumph.
No soul could ever forget such a victorious name.

Her greatest grandeur
Not the ornament of her beauty compared to shiny gold.
Nor is it her majesty’s strength which is exceedingly more
Powerful in abundance being multiplied more than a hundred fold.

Nay, the glory of her greatness,
You’ve seen it a thousand times over,
tis, that true heart she possess –
for you and for me.
I call it
Her majestic dignity.

Ahesha, 40

Meet Ahesha…

 I had to learn to love myself to become the mother I am today. It is a real cold feeling sitting in this 4’ x 5’ room with all my thoughts.

Ahesha, 40
Incarcerated: 6 months
Housed: Gloria McDonald Women’s Facility, Cranston, Rhode Island

I’m not defined by my crime. I’m a beautiful mother of 10. I have learned I can prosper in the worst conditions. I had to learn to love myself to become the mother I am today. It is a real cold feeling sitting in this 4’ x 5’ room with all my thoughts. Time has helped me process my bad feelings and the pain I’ve been putting my mother and kids through. Now I have graduated from all the bad things I have done. I’m trying to work on my bachelors degree. I know when I am released in 18 months that I’ve put my loved ones through a lot of pain. When I was standing in front of the judge and he gave me 18 months and said,  I am sorry it had to go this way but it’s for the best, it made me feel alone, like nobody cared, it made my little heart hurt. I was afraid of what I might go through when I started my sentence. I really didn’t know how I was going to feel without my mother, who is really sick with only one leg. And without my children, who are being taken care of by friends and family. My kids are 25, 24, 20, 18, 14, 13, 11, 9, 7 and 5 and I know they wonder why I’m not there to take care of them, like only I know how. When I look at my childrens pictures, they are my motivation to stay strong, to stay happy and to stay stress free without crying. I won’t say to my mother how I should have done this and done that. I’m reminded daily of the bad things I did to get this sentence. Yet, I am motivated by all the good things I’m going to do with my bachelors degree and be there for my kids. I want my kids to be so happy and proud of me. I really want them to know that I have achieved my goals and they can achieve theirs. I’ll be a free woman ready to do the right thing. I will never forget there is hope, faith and purpose! I have the power to change and I am determined to keep bad people away from me. I have learned a lot of new things because knowledge is my liberation. 

Randy, 29

Randy, 29

Meet Randy…

Randy, 29
Incarcerated: 14 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, California

Better Than Freedom Cake

I made the cake a few years ago. The first time I was at work it was my co-worker’s birthday. The only ingredients we had on hand were a Honey Bun and cookies. I made it from scratch off the top of my head, thinking if this is all we have, maybe this is something we can do. It just came to me to combine the icing, leave the Honey Bun at the center and make a type of dough with the cookies.I made it for him and it ended up being really good. He said it was so good and suggested I should sell it on the tier because people would pay a lot of money for it. So, I made a hustle from it, and it was something I supported myself with for a while because people did love them and they sold for a lot. People would damn near harass me for these things. They always sold out. I started doing special orders for people for their birthdays. I actually became known for these cakes. I had an opportunity last year on my birthdays: on my birthday to make one with my wife. We each made one at the same time, and I walked her through the instructions over the phone. We both ended up making one, she lit the cake and sang happy birthday. We made a whole event out of it. The cakes are not difficult to make, but the first time you make it, it’s going to be a mess. Even the time I walked my wife through making it, it came out sort of messy. The first time it will be a little lopsided and difficult. I’ve taught a few cellies how to make them, and without fail, something always goes wrong. The biggest issue I see, and I’ve experienced myself many times is adding too much water. I try to point out that you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out. If you put too much, it becomes mushy, and the whole cake is ruined. Other than that, it’s just molding it. Some people mold it and it comes out sloppy. Making the cakes themselves is pretty simple once you get the hang of it, but expect the first one to be a fail, and the second one to be the one that comes out right.

Better Than Freedom Cake

Makes 2 servings


30 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos)

1 Iced Honey Bun



Remove filling from cookies and place in a mixing bowl. Remove the icing from the Honey Bun, add to the cookie filling, and mix until smooth.

Crush the cookies thoroughly by placing them in a storage bag and pounding with a heavy pan, rolling pin or meat pounder. Place the cookies in a separate bowl.

Add water to the crushed cookies, one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition. Continue to add water just until the mixture forms a dough that holds together without crumbling. 

Shape the dough into two cakes slightly larger than the Honey Bun. One of the dough cakes should be slightly larger than the other. 

Set the Honey Bun on top of the smaller dough cake, ensuring there is a margin of dough around the edge of the Honey Bun. Drape the larger dough cake over the honey bun and join the edges into the bottom half, pressing together to seal to make one hefty cake. 

Editor’s notes:

  • Iced Honey Buns can be found in the baked snack food aisle of grocery stores. They can also be purchased online.
  • When adding the water to the cookies, do so slowly – you can always add more, but too much water will make the dough too soft.

Terrance, 34

Meet Terrance…

Terrance, 34
Incarcerated: 1 year
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, California

I call my mom everyday to make sure her emotional, mental, and spiritual life are intact. My mother and I have walked through drifts and tribulations together. She has built a strong young man. I look at my mothers pictures almost everyday because we are all we got. I want to be just like her because she is a great mother and grandmother.  I’m so grateful and thankful for my mother. I love her dearly. I have learned that I must go after my goals to make my family proud of me. They would be surprised by my goals of growing old with all my family, getting to a point where I am financially secure, and they would be amazed with my advanced technology projects that I must finish. My goals keep me up and energized, not ever giving up.

Lamar, 34

Lamar, 34

Meet Lamar…

This woman was the answer to my prayers. I thought I just needed a penpal but I got a mother. I call her my Godmother and I truly love her as if she made me.

Lamar, 34
Incarcerated: 13 years
Housed: East Arkansas Regional Unit, Marianna

I gave up on life because I wouldn’t be living anymore; I’d only be existing. I envied others who got all the mail, visits and talked on the phone. I left my daughter when she was eight and I get out when she’s 28. Prison can be a lonely, cold and bitter place. I’d attempted suicide before but I lived through it, so I lied about what made me nearly die. This is my second prison term. My first term I served seven years. I felt I deserved this hell. I felt I deserved the mistreatment from officers and my peers, too. I didn’t shave, exercise, or write home. I crawled into a shell. I thought to myself, “This is God’s will.” Until one day, I wrote to a bookstore asking them to donate some books. I received a letter from a woman named Claire. Since that day, two years ago, she has made it a point to write to me every week no matter what. She sent photos and I’ve even called her.

This woman was the answer to my prayers. I thought I just needed a penpal but I got a mother. I call her my Godmother and I truly love her as if she made me. She stayed on me (in a good way.) She’s very religious and very loving. I love my real mother but I have two of them now. Claire stayed on me about getting a GED and I did it, I did not want to but I did it. She encouraged me to write a book. And I did it. In fact, I just finished my second book. I haven’t found a publisher, but I’m proud of my accomplishments. Some days are hard, but she stays with me. I thank God for this woman. God didn’t give me what I wanted but he gave me what I needed. I’m somebody and I’m not forgotten.

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