Hope Is Essential While Serving Time In Prison

Someone once told me that they saw a sign inside of a prison where they were housed that read, “Welcome to Hell. Leave all of your hopes and dreams behind.” I couldn’t phantom something so cruel. Why would someone create and post a sign like that? How many inmates internalize such notions? I can only imagine the number of people who lose sight of their dreams when they are confined in such a dismal place. Continue reading

The Execution of Larry Griffin and What it Meant to Others

Stories about the experiences of serving time with men who are on death row always incite my compassion. I have learned about friendships on death row, and I try to imagine what it’s like to live in such close proximity with someone you know who is scheduled to die by execution at any given time. It’s made me wonder how individuals who are housed with Death Row Inmates are impacted by the constant threat of death that hovers over them. Continue reading

Missing Phyllis Hardy: Remembering a Senior Citizen in Prison

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and as the Christmas holiday draws near, I can’t help but think about a women I left behind in federal prison. When I was incarcerated the most exciting time during this time of year was New Year’s Eve. That day marks the end of a long arduous 365 day cycle and brings most inmates closer to release. When I went to prison in 1993 I never imagined I would endure over 6,750 days in prison. Continue reading

Darius Clark Monroe’s Film, Evolution of a Criminal, and Thoughts on College After Incarceration

Last week I participated in a panel discussion following the screening of a film called Evolution of a Criminal, by Darius Clark Monroe. The film was a self-made documentary about Darius Clark’s decision to rob a bank where he held several of its customers at gunpoint, and it tracks his life as an aspiring filmmaker as he confronts his criminal past, faces the victims of the robbery, and comes face to face with resentment, forgiveness, redemption and uncertainty. I thought it was a compelling, heart wrenching film. Continue reading

Is the Search for Happiness after Incarceration Harder?

Someone asked me recently, “How are Returning Citizens different from the ordinary person in regard to the search for happiness?” Happiness is one of the most important elements of existence. One doesn’t have to be incarcerated to experience poverty, degradation and/or oppression, but if you are in prison, the chances that you will face such tragic circumstances are greater, and this can influence happiness. Continue reading

Searching for Happiness after Incarceration

I just had my 41st birthday this week and it’s been very challenging. I had many friends try to get me out of the house to celebrate, but I just wasn’t in the mood. If there is one thing I have learned over the past three years it’s that you can never look at a person and assume that because they seem well put together that they are not facing personal difficulties. Continue reading