In your last set of responses you describe a system and approach to young people (and particularly toward urban youth of color) that has become “tough on potential.” Layne and I thought this phrasing was very powerful. We wanted to follow up by asking, what does it mean for a society to be “tough on potential” and what are its impacts? What would a different approach that alternately encouraged human potential look like?
A society is tough on potential when its first course of correction towards its citizens is punitive.
The essence of tough on potential begins and ends with the children of its society. I believe education is a direct root to all potential. When society and its electors allow its educational system to fail in value and care, it do so with deteriorating the growth and possibilities of its children. It’s the epitome of being tough on potential when society allows its children to be subject to the harshest penalties of the judicial system such as a Life sentence in prison. It’s tough on potential when an ex-offender returns to society only to be confronted with a depressing and discouraging reality, that many opportunities to become a productive citizens are limited or stripped from them, opportunities such as adequate employment, state and federal benefits and the right to vote. It’s tough on potential when society and its elected refuse to recognize and exercise the ability to forgive and allow a second chance to those who have been incarcerated for decades and has achieved the highest degree of rehabilitation. Finally, it’s tough on potential when the lawmakers and members of the court who make up the judicial system blatantly disregard the lasting effects of sentencing a person to a prison stint of no return. These effects consist of displacement of families and the dismantling of communities. Continue reading
Please tell us something about yourself. Feel free to include whatever you feel comfortable or interested in sharing.
I am strong in mind and spirit. My self-proclaimed strength is not meant to be braggadocious at all, because though my strength may seem self-proclaimed at face, it is the overcoming of my trials and tribulations that allow me to claim such strength. I believe anyone that survive(d) the obstacles of confinement without compromising who they are is strong in nature because the mechanics of prison are designed to break down, tear apart, and demoralize the strong-willed. Continue Reading
Letter from Clinton Nkechi Walker on July 22, 2014
How did you get into the practice of writing and/or poetry? Why is it important or meaningful to you as a means of expression?
Since I can remember I’ve always been a writer of some sort or the other. I haven’t received a degree or anything in writing. It’s a hobby I enjoy. Two good friends of mine got me started in the styles of poetry and essay writing. I heard my friend Tizzy say some of his poetry one day when I was in the hole of the notorious Greene County. I was intrigued by how a person can be creative with their thoughts using words, rhythm, and rhyme so I tried the art form. I liked it and now use it as a way to express my thoughts. Continue Reading
Letter from Clinton Nkechi Walker on February 2, 2015
What does successful inside/outside collaboration look like to you? What are the features or qualities that mark its success or effectiveness? Are there any particular examples of such collaborations that rise to the top in your mind?
A successful inside/outside collaboration to me would be when both parties have a clear understanding of their goals, how to begin their goals and how to reach the end result. It is a collaboration of like minds that has an understanding that one cannot be truly successful without the other.
The features/qualities of a successful inside/outside collaboration is sincerity and honesty. Everyone involved has to be honest about what the collaboration stand for, what the mission is and how far the collaboration is willing to go to complete the mission. I believe hard work, sincerity and honesty combined with precise organizing is the key components to a successful and effective collaboration. Continue Reading
Statement for the Launch of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration – June 6, 2015
By Clinton Nkechi Walker
One of the ways of how I measure humanity is by the level of compassion society and its infrastructure has for its riffraff or for those victims of society’s evils such as poverty, mental illnesses, moral absences, or failure of its educational system. Many victims of those evils are individuals that I live with every day in this place called prison. Some are individuals who will return to society in the same state, for the most part, in which they came here, due to neglect of sincere rehabilitative programs. Others among them are usually those that have been doomed to suffer for the rest of their physical life in coffins parading as correctional institutions. Continue Reading