Segregation, Also Known as 23-Hour Lockdown, Is a Prison Inside of a Prison

Last week someone interviewed me about the time I spent in the Segregation Housing Unit (SHU) while I was incarcerated. She asked me things like, how did you pass the time? How often were you able to use the telephone? Had experienced violence while in the SHU? Those questions took me on a journey through a time that I would not care to remember. When I was being interviewed, I kept waiting for the woman to ask me how I was able to Continue reading

I Think My Brother is Institutionalized!

I think my brother is institutionalized. He has spent most of his life in and out of prison. Beginning at the age of 15 years old, he went from Juvenile facilities to the United States Penitentiary over a two-decade span of time. During one stint he spent 12 years in prison. He came home and stayed on the street for 18 months before he was back in again. The other day I ran across a journal entry that I wrote when I saw my brother while I was in the transitional house after my own release from prison. I really thought things would be different. Boy was I wrong… Continue reading

Mentally Arrested

I have a friend who was incarcerated for 16 years. He has been home for over a decade. Last week he celebrated his 45th birthday. He partied for two weeks straight. I joked, “You are partying like you just came home.” He replied, “I’ve been home for 10 years and I’m still a lover of life…. Sometimes when I’m in the club I still have those moments when Continue reading

Now That I am Out Of Prison, When Will I Stop Feeling Caged?

It’s a new year, and I’ve been home for two years now, yet I still find myself unable to sit with myself. I still don’t go home until I know I’m exhausted and ready for bed. I still feel like an energizer bunny every time my feet hit the floor in the morning. When is it gonna end? I keep telling myself that this will change when I move into a larger space. Right now the space I’m living in is small. It’s cozy, but there’s not much space to move around. In fact, it’s one room. When I move, I plan to create an oasis in my “living room.” I want candles burning, fresh flowers permeating, soft music playing, and Continue reading

I’m Not Who I Use To Be

On Christmas Day I had the opportunity to see one of my sisters for the first time in over two decades. She lives three hours away from where I am based in Washington, DC. I never saw her while I was incarcerated, and even though I was released in 2011, she was not able to come to see me until now. When she walked into my mom’s house, I screamed, hugged her and asked jokingly, “Where have you been all my life?” She replied Continue reading

Missing Traditions

I wish I had some traditions to engage in during this holiday season. Even though I was in prison for 18 years I have been home for two years now. It seems like it’s time to begin building some traditions, practicing some customs. Only, I don’t know where to begin. I feel especially lonely this time of year. It’s not because I can’t be with others, but more because Continue reading

Second Chances

Today marks my second anniversary since I was released from Federal Prison. I am so grateful for a second chance to be a part of society. I am especially grateful to all of my friends and family members who have helped me learn to live again after 18 years in prison. I might not be where I want to be, but I am not where I used to be. I am still a work in progress. Continue reading

Rebuilding Bonds After Incarceration: Things Are Nothing Like We Imagined They Would Be

My daughter was three years old when I became incarcerated. By the time I was released she was 21 years old. I think we both had illusions about how things would be when I came home. I thought I would be spending all of my spare time with my children. I thought I would be babysitting my grandchildren and maybe even living with my children. I thought we would get to know one another and build a bond for once in our lives. To my surprise I Continue reading

Imagine!

Imagine you are abducted into a cult, you wake up the next day with a whole new set of norms and rules to follow, you don’t know anyone around you, and everyone is dressed alike. You find yourself enclosed in a small community with a school and a church on the compound. What if you stayed there for years then, one day, someone opened the gate to the community you were living in and Continue reading