Rosanna, 40

Rosanna, 40

Meet Rosanna…

No one can take away the peace and joy I carry within, because today I can see all the blessings around me. Prison is not fun, but it has shaped me to be a better mother, daughter, sister and friend.

Incarcerated: 11years

Housed: Texas Department of Criminal Justice Hilltop Unit, Gatesville

I have come to realize that everything in life happens for a reason. Growing up I was raised with lots of love from my Mommy. My father wasn’t around much because he chose the lifestyle of being a drug dealer over us. But, I was still cared for and cared about. However, somewhere along the way I got on a sidepath and it led me to question “Why” things happened the way they did. I became rebellious and soon after was sentenced for dealing drugs. I realized that I needed to change for the better, do right, and not let the cycle of imprisonment continue. I see the reasoning of why I’ve been here so long. I received my California Driver’s License and am blessed to be gaining experience on the road, as a truck driver, working for the prison. This in turn will help me get a good job once I’m released. I know that I will succeed, focusing on the fact that no matter what, I matter to my family and God. I enjoy life and all it’s beauty. No one can take away the peace and joy I carry within, because today I can see all the blessings around me. Prison is not fun, but it has shaped me to be a better mother, daughter, sister and friend.

Dante, 35

Dante, 35

Meet Dante…

With her passing, I feel like a part of me died with her. I wish she could see me now and the man I am becoming because of the morals she ingrained in me. Big Mama, as we all affectionately called her, left an everlasting impression on us all.

Incarcerated: 15 years 

Housed: Texas Dept of Criminal Justice, Rosharon

19 years ago, I went through the most traumatizing pain I’ve ever felt in my life. At 17, I lost my great grandmother, Ms. Louise to a major stroke. She was our family’s backbone. The pain was overwhelming for everyone. Especially me. She migrated from the deep south to where most of my family still resides, Fifth Ward, Houston, Texas. Being the first born, she spoiled me to death and  as I got older she gave me a lot of insight on where I come from, the value of family, responsibility and discipline. I actually believe if she hadn’t died, I wouldn’t be in this penitentiary. With her passing, I feel like a part of me died with her. I wish she could see me now and the man I am becoming because of the morals she ingrained in me. Big Mama, as we all affectionately called her, left an everlasting impression on us all. I give thanks for the wisdom she layed on me as a child and I appreciate the time I had with her. Today, I have a close relationship with my mom. No one has my back like my Mama does, especially in this penitentiary. Salute to the queens out there. Remember ‘The hour of calm is the hour of restoration.’

 

My-Linda, 54

Meet My-Linda…

Nowadays I just wanna chill, be free and enjoy life. I want to sit on the front porch, drinkin’ cold ice tea and watch the kids play in the yard, free, happy and content.

Incarcerated: 2 years 

Housed: Hilltop Women’s Unit, Gatesville, Texas

I’m here on an eight year sentence, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be home next year. I have no children, but I do have some beautiful great nieces and nephews who I love and miss everyday. I can’t wait to be free and spoil them ridiculously 🙂 I’ve lived the life of a “Hard Head” and being here shows that completely. Nowadays I just wanna chill, be free and enjoy life. I want to sit on the front porch, drinkin’ cold ice tea and watch the kids play in the yard, free, happy and content.

William, ‘Peedie Weedie’, 35

Meet William, ‘Peedie Weedie’…

Truth be told, I’ve never been anything more than just a pothead.

Incarcerated: 20 years
Housed: Mark Stiles Unit – Beaumont, Texas

I’ve never been anything like a real big and bad serious gangster or anything like that. At 19 I got caught up dealing and messing around with a guy that meant me no good. I had lost my job, out of desperation for money, I let him talk me into hitting up a restaurant. Truth be told, I’ve never been anything more than just a pothead. Real deal – I haven’t been with a woman in over 15 years. I was a dad before I left. If a man was able to be intimate with his wife at least once a year, it just might lower the divorce rate or motivate a brother to stay out of trouble.

Aharon, 44

Aharon, 44

Meet Aharon…

I’ve had two strokes in the past year and I’m confined to a wheelchair. – in addition to having PTSD and Cardio Pulmonary Disease. Despite the odds, I struggle every day to make tomorrow better than today.

Incarcerated: 27 years
Housed: Mark Stiles Unit, Beaumont, Texas

Life is a dream which disappears each day I awake in my 6’x9’ steel and concrete cell. In a perfect world, prisoners are incarcerated for the ultimate purpose of receiving adequate and meaningful education and rehabilitation. If these laws were effectively used, the goal of incarceration would succeed. Yet, the Prison Industrial Complex disregards all policy programming and services, as discretionary. The sole discretion placed on the prison admin officials. We are forced to fend for ourselves. To sink or swim with the sharks. The system in place given to the public servants. We are dependent upon them for guidance and rehabilitation. The neglectful focus on sentencing oversight towards education and rehabilitation, mold us into more anti-social and self-reliant people who must trust the system. A system built upon free labor of Texas prisoners – blood, sweat, and tears for the most basic essentials for existence. While enduring brutal treatment, in a volatile and hostile environment. It is extremely hard to buck the system while using the laws and statutes established. We’re told to abide by the law or suffer its consequences. Yet, when we do use the courts to redress our issues we suffer even greater recriminations and oppression. Then they turn their backs and forget the purpose of our incarceration. If we are not given the rights we so desperately need, then, into the mouth of the lion we dive. The lion suffers. It’s hard to chew when I use the system against the system with procedures of wrongs committed upon state citizens. Save the Constitution. Still, I hold true to myself: a stalwart soldier of the Civil Rights Movement. An American patriot of Israeli-Jewish ancestry. An advocate and activist for positive and productive global advancement. Learning to see everyone succeed in life, rather than mere existence. A light sent by society into a place of darkness. Bringing light back into the world by correcting the wrongs.