This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Tracy.
I really hope this letter finds your family and your team moving forward in health, positive thought, and unconditional love. I am currently at Tracy and I have been down since 2012. By the grace of God I have become eligible for fire camp and I am currently awaiting transfer and when this happens I will be released at the end of 2021, then I’m coming right back!
Seriously, during this last nine years I have truly dug deep and become a better man, and I have experienced the deepest depths of sorrow in isolation. In 2015, things became too tough for a neighbor on the tier, he ended up cutting his own throat, then hanging himself. The depths of sorrow when you awake daily and pay for a crime you committed when you were a different person.
During this trip, I have earned 20 units toward my associate’s degree in biblical studies (I’m a Black Hebrew) I have earned my associates degree in behavioral science, emphasis on child development. I written an unpublished mentor/spoken word book titled “Words from a Friend” and I’m a certified horrible speller.
When COVID-19 first hit, we heard a guy was supposed to go home in about three weeks. He was transferred to a facility that had an outbreak and he died. There are countless stories like this. I’m a 40 year old man, I’m in good shape and I recently (1-5-21) had a bout with COVID-19 and even though I beat it, it was a scary time, I can imagine an older gentleman experience such a intense paranoia.
I have witnessed so much mismanagement, this was an unprecedented event but all this was increased because as you know in about 2014, a three-judge federal court panel deemed CDCR to be overcrowded and a violation of the Eighth Amendment. If CDCR would of followed the three judges’ recommendation and released inmates in a timely manner, lives would of been saved because who would of knew the best medicine for COVID-19 is social distancing?!
In 2020 in January, a good friend and I started a non-profit called [redacted]. Look it up on Google and follow us on IG. We developed the platform on the premises of rewarding individuals who are going to college while in prison with family reunification services. We became legal in March. We got our website up, then bam COVID-19 shut things down.
Romans 8:28: “All things work together for the good, to those who love God.” This is a horrible situation and a lot of pain and further isolation has been a never-ending reality. I hope a brighter light can be driven into these places of designed isolation.
The modern prison system was founded on the 13th Amendment adapted after the Civil War ended slavery. It was designed to create free labor (i.e., conduct leasing camps via black codes and vagrant laws). Knowing this is the foundation of the PIC, “prison industrial complex” and in this new revolution in uncovering the many forms of “systematic oppression.”
At my pretrial conference they offered me 32 months for breaking some glasses and a fight. I declined their offer, took it to trial, and received 192 months for the same crime. The tool they use as a weapon is called a “plea deal.” They threaten us with long sentences if we don’t take the deal.
Please forgive me, I tend to vent. I have many stories and real life sagas my brothers go through in here daily. I love writing and would love to dig deep with you and explore ways to enlighten and shape stories that humanize a real life struggle. I’ve done work with the Stanford Prison Renaissance, I was published in a zine called [redacted].
I’ll leave you with one of my spoken word poems called “Quicksand.” I would love to network with you ‘n grow. Please get back so we can get to work! Check out the website, at the bottom it says ‘A Production.’ That’s my nickname. I got when I was young. Hope you enjoy the poem!
I didn’t know that the innocent mud would be vicious,
The “war” on drugs, a facade for a racial caste system,
When I put my foot in,
I thought I could get out,
Excuse me sir, are you hiring, get out,
A chance to succeed, seems easier to receive water in a drought,
The dope man ain’t checking my resume,
So I’m trapping in a trap,
Slavery’s abolished until I’m cracking for selling crack;
The life blood of freedom quenched because of lack,
Am I menace or I am fencing,
Convict leasing camp,
It takes a village, a raisin in the sun,
A conscious effort, daughters ‘n sons,
Quicksand got deeper, the more I struggled,
Mandatory minimums and 5 year priors,
My public pretender dumbstruck,
Over lunch they conspire,
The sand’s now at my knees
Didn’t recognize the significance
Of signing this plea,
My rights gone, the same one’s
Dr. King would bleed,
Sentence schemes and probation,
The new Emancipation Proclamation
Harsh conditions mixed with mass inflictions,
Slaves had more rights, then blacks with convictions,
Confederates baking up black codes in kitchens,
Various methods to deter voting,
Now the system’s their mistress,
There were bodies in the quicksand,
How could I miss this
“War on drugs,” “3 strikes,”
Not ropes, volts ‘n poison
The sense of justice burning inside me,
When I stand up, I’m inciting,
Am I intrinsically inferior,
Motivated by those behind me,
Locked arms with those beside me,
Blinders gone, diagnosed the problem,
Let’s start grinding
The sand’s now at my neck, (2 strikes)
I’ll scream till I’m tired,
Expose system advocates,
Tell the kids to dream higher,
Persuade our seeds to become insiders,
Real tools for survival, for those
Who bang and shoot,
Where your money goes, where your
Heart is, where you take you loot,
The quicksand got me, I’m still a rose,
With my damaged petals,
I will expose!
I wrote this poem after I read “The New Jim Crow,” the systematic efforts to keep us down have been relentless, constant, and persistent, so is the fighting spirit in all of us who hang on to this humanity! I have 113 spoken word poems and several mentor stories and essays that navigate my life journey through pain and isolation, gangs, drugs, and transformation.