Paul, 61

Paul, 61

Meet Paul…

Incarcerated: 20 years, Army Veteran

I am a prisoner, a pauper, a poet, a painter and an author. I am a father and a son. My life is more than half over. It feels like I was born here in this cage, and when I die it will be my mausoleum. Life is a play. We play many parts, when the curtain is drawn, what will it all mean? Peace is a process, not an acquisition. Hear me, I am the silent one, the one you cannot see, then I shall fade away. Think before you feel. Be careful, life is full of negative emotions.


Body And Soul

Is love a desire and lust a need?
Is lust a desire and love a need?
The body has needs
The heart has capacity

Control of one is possible,
But are both?
Or is all truly illusion?
Do we control anything at all?

Love we cannot demand
It must be given freely
Yet we can open out hearts to love
Though to love is not always wise

Lust demands a payment from the soul
Love rarely remains unbroken
When all is done
When life and love and lust are through
Only death remains

Life and Death are opposites
Are Love and Lust?
Death knows no weakness
Only Purpose


Keane, 41

Keane, 41

I just wanted my boys to know how much I love them.

Growing up my dad was barely in my life. I swore that if I had kids I would always be there for them. They were three, four and five years old when I came to jail. I was with them from birth to that last day. The time I had with them was the best years of my life.

I regret every time I told them I was too busy to play with them. I wanted to help them grow up, to be there for them, give advice and do all the things a dad is supposed to do. I had to find substitutes for my dad not being around, so I hope they’ve found people to look up to.

“I just wanted my boys to know how much I love them. Growing up my dad was barely in my life. I swore that if I had kids I would always be there for them.”

Guys assume I’m a loner because they can’t see the ones I carry around inside of me. I feel bad for the young guys who join a gang to have an artificial “family.” I’m lucky to already have all the family I need.

Life’s a tragedy for everyone, admittedly more for some, all we can do is make the best of it. I’m not sorry that I took the life that I took. He was threatening the safety of the ones who it was my duty to protect. But I regret the choices that led to being in that situation, and I’m sorry his family has suffered.

Tandy, 37

Tandy, 37

Meet Tandy…

I was supposed to be a lawyer, but my family and I were prey to the crack epidemic. I was on the honor roll and student council. At 13, when the drugs finally broke up my family, I found myself homeless not knowing if I had passed the 8th grade. At 17 I was arrested. At 18 sentenced to my first prison stint in Wisconsin.

I remember feeling scared and relieved. Education while incarcerated has been my saving grace. When I got out I thought “I’ll be grown up and can put myself in school and rent my own house.” I did exactly what I said: got a job, rented an apartment and enrolled in college. Any time college costs 30k for an associate’s degree, something is wrong. But I didn’t know that then. In my second year,  an older man knocked me up. Told me he would drop the rent in the drop box after our daughter was born, never to be seen again.

Fearful that we’d be homeless I went back to the things that hurt me and saved me: selling drugs. Of course, it led me right back to prison. This time in the hard state of Texas. Here I’ve rediscovered my love of learning. I’ve gotten an associate’s degree and taken numerous classes but my love of learning goes beyond academia. This institution only offers low-level books. It is a struggle to attain books in the fields I like.

I believe everything that happens on earth happens within the human being. In agriculture the soil needs nourishment, it needs water, the weeds have to be pulled. So too do human beings. In prison, I’ve learned that I need self-care. I needed to pull out the weeds that hindered my growth from past hurts and neglect to abandonment and fear. I needed to nourish myself with love, positivity, belief, drive and compassion. I needed to build on my self-worth. A foundation not built upon.

No matter what, the seasons change. In some seasons the darkness comes quicker, lasts longer. Things wither away and die and the world seems cold. In other seasons the sun shines bright and darkness is fleeting. Those things that die will be resurrected and restored. That’s how I feel about life and humanity. 📸 Tandy’s

Johnnie, 41

Johnnie, 41

Meet Johnnie…


Last year she developed feelings for me. I know I’m a burden, she has six kids and has been married twice. She didn’t want to show her feelings. Instead, I was mean and pushed her away, I thought it was for her own good.

It became what it wasn’t meant to be. She wanted me to be her prince charming. We don’t talk anymore. She was all I had left. I’ve known Sara my whole life. I babysat and raised her since I was 19 and she was 15. She got locked up and then got out. She was really there for me. She gets it in here. She wrote to me, sent me money, packages and paid for lawyers. She was my best friend and loved me. She is dear to me. She was there for 13 years. We have a history.

I think that people misconstrue what prison is, and don’t know what goes on here. It’s traumatic for me. I am homesick all the time. Living here is like a nightmare, I hate it. I did wrong, but not that wrong to suffer this. All humans make mistakes. We’ve all done some things wrong.

This institution has taken so much from me. They lost all my pictures of my loved ones that passed away, including my mom. I try to transform it into a positive. I believe in the law of attraction, that there are secrets to figure out, energy to pursue. This DVD “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrnes talks about it. It was huge in 2007.

I’ve learned to avoid energy thieves, those people that ask you, “What are you smiling for?” I say, “Don’t worry about it.” I made it through years, I’ve lost family and friends. I have a good friend in here, Miguel. We have a weird bro thing. We understand what we go through, like family, even though we don’t say it. Miguel checks on me. Even Miguel’s got everything you would want, but he’s still stressed out, going through it too.

I don’t have a wife yet or other things. I do understand I would still be hurting if I did. It hurts that the person that loves you is not here. I do have support from a man who has been a pastor for 40 years. He’s like a dad. David Lucci. For 15 years he’s been here for me with everything, with unconditional love.

The secret is here …. someone leaves as another comes. 

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