Christopher, 39

Christopher, 39

Meet Christopher…

…When a prisoner is sentenced there is another reality attached to it. The reality that their family and friends will do the time with them. You will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory, stay strong.”

Incarcerated: 18 years
Housed: New Jersey State Prison, Trenton

I was 19 years old and convicted of a robbery and weapons charges. The judge sentenced me to time greater than my mother’s age. Sixty years with a mandatory minimum of 85 percent. I have since served 18 years. Upon arriving in prison my daughter was only three. She is now 21 and has grown up without a father.

Unfortunately, when a prisoner is sentenced there is another reality attached to it. The reality that their family and friends will do the time with them. I miss when my mother used to call me asking to bring her to work, seeing my mom’s beautiful smile would make my day. It’s the small things in life that I miss so much, like watching my daughter grow up to be the beautiful woman she is today. I am grateful for my family and everything they have sacrificed to help me.

We all need a second chance at life to be a father, husband and son. I don’t think someone needs to die in prison for their past mistakes. I have since involved myself in many positive endeavors. Since the beginning of my incarceration, I have made countless efforts to rehabilitate by completing a number of programs. Yet, the state rather keeps us inside of a cell for 23 hours a day doing nothing. How does that help us?

The fact is, poverty is what led me to prison and the world needs to know that poverty is a crime. For now, my family and daughter bring me comfort. This is what still gets me through each day. By standing firm with my faith there is always hope. Finally, you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory, so always stay strong. 📸 Christopher’s

Tariq, 44

Tariq, 44

COVID-19 seems like a saga without an end. Our prison is experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 Delta infections. Talk and rumors of new restrictions are everywhere. The recently resumed limited visits have once again been restricted to being held outside under a canopy. And all religious services have been curtailed and religious classes are cancelled until further notice.

People outside are screaming about cabin fever, and in here, well, I guess we are just barely holding on to our sanity. That is why during nights I am spending more time than usual at my cell window staring at the outer-space searching for some consolation.

Admittedly, I am getting tired of it all. The pandemic “believers” and “deniers” are always at odds. And logic in here and outside seems like a fleeting commodity. I often find it hard to just be in a moment without conflict. So, to quell that uneasiness, I look at the heavens, searching for some solace.
Looking at the stars from my window has always provided me with tranquility and peace. I see my regular celestial companions through the misty dark sky, twinkling, playing that never ending game of hide and seek. A game, I still enjoy playing.

I always try to look at the bright side of things, but I must admit the last few months have been very hard. COVID-19 reached my house. My mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all sick. And hearing their labored voices over the phone had left me with a feeling that I can’t explain in words. I felt desperate. My little nephew and niece also had symptoms but with the Grace of God, they recovered and rebounded in a few days. My father too, who is almost 80 years old, with multiple strokes and other serious health issues, was spared. As of now, they are all vaccinated; yet the new Delta variant is still a palpable cause of concern and has left my father in particular more isolated than the other family members.

“I am imprisoned too,” my father stated awkwardly over the phone. “your brother is like a jailer. He is always trying to keep me inside.”

“He is only looking out for you, Dad,” I attempted to defend my brother. “You know he was sick too. He is just trying to look out for your health. We need you around for a while, old man.”
My father just laughed that uneasy laugh, leaving me wondering whether he understood or was under the impression that I didn’t take his side and have turned on him as well. To me, it is a losing proposition. I feel hapless, and helpless – like a floating spaceman.

Indeed, it has been a very tough year and a half in every possible way. And, in reality, I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over. Sitting by my window, looking out beyond the stars, I can see a quiet darkness. I wonder if out there anyone has any idea what is taking place in our planet. Space is so very spooky and scary, yet inviting too. I am amazed by its magnetism.

In my thoughts while looking out my window, I often transpose and see myself in space. With a lifetime’s worth of Sci-Fi books and TV shows about space exploration in mind, my trance-like state is so vivid that I can almost feel weightless. Flying about in the heavens, seeing nature’s light show, it is liberating. Yet, in theory, I am also aware of its hazards and pitfalls. Because losing control up there, well, it can be extremely total and can lead to a very uncertain end.

In a way, our lives on earth are quite similar and losing control can lead to a tragedy. Life here also has its own gravitational pull, dangers and dark-holes. I for one can speak to the validity of that notion. As a prisoner, I lost control a long time ago. Now with every fleeting year, I am like an astronaut who lost his tether and broke off from the space station. I too find myself flying through the cosmos, unable to do anything or control anything. I can’t change my trajectory, my direction, velocity or vector. I am alone, and in control of only my body and mind, and nothing else. Years, months, weeks, days and hours pass, and further away I get, bleaker and lonesome it seems. Like that lost soul in space, with every ephemeral day, I find myself too far removed. Alone! And the probability of a return seems exponentially improbable.

Yet, hope is a science of possibilities. And the gravity of discovery has its own invisible pull, one full of blind optimism. So, until my time runs out, I shall buckle down and enjoy the ride.
Till next log entry,
Space Man out!

Kory, 35

Kory, 35

Meet Kory…

I cried. But, I was sure not to let anyone see me, in prison you have to be a machine and not a human.

Sometimes I wonder how a human can be made to sit in a cage. Most of the time I ignore it. Some humans accept it. I can ignore the fact that I’m caged because my mind is free. I read and by reading I’m in the story teller’s world. While writing this, I’m reading a book titled Fashionably Dead, by Robyn Peterman. The main character is a fashionable cross breed of vampire and demon, and somehow, she’s the chosen one. She’s in hell with the devil, the seven deadly sins, Dante and a host of others. So, right now this human is a vampire. I also write short stories to place on my personal blog. Writing fiction frees my mind by allowing me to enter into the minds of the characters I create. So I get to live through their eyes. 


Though my mind ignores the fact that I’m caged, my soul will never accept it. I miss my family more than anything. I learned through this arduous journey that family is part of the human soul. When they hurt I hurt no matter the distance between us. When I call home and my family is feeling joy, I experience the joy also.

I miss the simple things. Such as, washing dishes and taking out the trash and being able to open a window to allow a breeze to flow through the house.


While in this cage, I have lost pieces of my soul and sometimes the pain is unbearable. The other day I had a dream, I was with my cousin Stephen. It felt so real. When I woke up and realized I was in here and he was gone forever, I cried. But, I was sure not to let anyone see me, in prison you have to be a machine and not a human. When I have a vivid dream of Pop-pop and grandma, I wake up smiling knowing that I’m still human.

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