Tony, 50

Tony, 50

Meet Tony…

 “I don’t want to grow bitter and dark, yet I can feel my mind slipping further and further down the rabbit’s hole turning my warm heart into ice.”

Tony, 50

Incarcerated: 23 years

I have made peace with the thought of the possibility that I might never go home. But, where do I call home? I have built a kingdom within my heart because I am not this body, I am a spirit, avoiding the bars of my bones, to imprison me. I cover myself with the clothes, where the seeds dress themselves from the inside out. I have fallen down this rabbit’s hole and have become a stranger to my two daughters and son. I do not wish to lie to you, but even my family has faded away. I am responsible for turning myself into a ghost. For four years, I wrote a book, poured my heart and soul into it, and my teacher wanted to publish it. He took it and I’ve never seen him or it again. I hear he still teaches in prison. I am a typical short story of a gang member, who grew up being taught and schooled by some of the greatest hard core rappers – glorifying this cemetery I now live in. Of course, lots of positive changes do happen in our prisons now, with lots of self help groups. But, what good is a treasure chest full of gold, if you keep running from grave to grave? I’ve seen many people receive lots of certificates of accomplishments, yet they have not changed but, only for the worst. You ask me what I love? I love to paint the elements of destruction and I love my little radio. I don’t want to grow bitter and dark, yet I can feel my mind slipping further and further down the rabbit’s hole turning my warm heart into ice. 

Jonathan, 30

Meet Jonathan…

Maybe I was a hateful person, but never more to others than I was to myself. I hated myself so much that I felt maybe prison was the only place I should be.

Jonathan, 30
Incarcerated: 9 years
Housed: Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Ossining, New York

I remember cutting myself to see if my adopted parents would show some sort of compassion. I was in for a rude awakening. If I didn’t grow to understand the meaning of my suffering. I would easily have been a hateful person. Maybe I was a hateful person, but never more to others than I was to myself. I hated myself so much that I felt maybe prison was the only place I should be. My vision from as far back as I can remember was nothing but destruction and self-hate. I’ve had guns pointed at my head at 10 and not an ounce of fear did I feel, not one ounce. I was on a suicide mission; I mean life was so fucked up that death could not have been any worse. I am an incarcerated individual for committing a serious crime against humanity. I spilled blood and even though that life can never be given back to that person, I will never allow that person’s death to be in vain. The day I was sentenced, his mother told me to use my time to change my life. I’ve done that, now it’s time to help the new generation gain an understanding of their life. The ones who have parents and the ones who don’t. We need to be examples to the youth, help them find that vision. That is my purpose. I love humanity. There are so many people who are going through worse things than I am. Some people have it so bad that my struggles are like a dot to the universe. That thought process is what has gotten me through life. Now I just want to live the great words of Muhammed Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

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