Category Archives: Interview

Clinton Nkechi Walker on Strength, Social Awareness, and Trying to Heal

Letter from Clinton Nkechi Walker on June 5, 2014

Clinton Walker Interview #1

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.
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Clinton Nkechi Walker on Writing, Maturity, and Ending the Silence

Letter from Clinton Nkechi Walker on July 22, 2014

Interview #2

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

Clinton Nkechi Walker on the Failure of the Punitive Model of Justice

Letter from Clinton Nkechi Walker on February 2, 2015

Interview #3

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

Clinton Nkechi Walker “Statement For the Launch of CADBI”

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

James Hough on redemption within a punitive system

ScanLetter from James Hough on July 1, 2014

Interview #1

Please tell us something about yourself. Feel free to include whatever you feel comfortable or interested in sharing.

My name is James Hough, but all my family and friends call me Yaya. I’m originally from Pittsburgh, PA and I’ve lived in other cities prior to ‘coming’ to prison. I’ve been incarcerated since I was 17 years old – serving LWOP. However, I live as though I will be released from prison. I don’t follow any specific religion, but I am spiritual. I prefer peace and nonviolence in all my interactions. I’ve had more than enough violence for one lifetime. With the exception of diet, I live as healthy as I can (no smoking & drinking- no drugs & gambling). My only regret is taking the human life that put me here. Everyone lost in that event. It always humbles me. Continue Reading

James Hough on art, activism, and ‘freedom culture’

ScanLetter from James Hough on July 31, 2015

Interview #2

Can you tell us more about your practice as a visual artist? When did you begin to pursue art seriously and what motivated that decision on your part?

I’ve always been an artist, as a kid I’d draw and my eyes (mind) was/is very sensitive to visual stimuli. I was also encouraged by my family and school art teachers and comic books, etc.; prior to my crime and incarceration, I had drifted away from art and into the street underworld: drugs, drug selling, weapons, sex, violence. In retrospect I went through a process of intense spiritual death that culminated in my killing another human being and being sentenced to a LWOP (virtual) death sentence. Continue Reading

James Canady on the Injustice of Juvenile Life Sentences

Letter from James Canady on July 15, 2014

Interview #1

Please tell us something about yourself. Feel free to include whatever you feel comfortable or interested in sharing.

My name is James Canady and I been in prison for 7 years now. It is important to note that I am a juvenile lifer, and a young man trying to search for freedom. I cannot get too deep into my case because I’m still in the early stages of my legal fight, however I will admit that I made some bad decisions in life. Now that I am a little older, I’ve had time to think and grow. I just want you to know that the most important thing in my life is my family who I miss and love very much. Continue Reading

James Canady on Mass Incarceration and the Need to Speak Out

Letter from James Canady on December 23, 2014

Interview #2

You write in your letter that you have been speaking with older men to help you mature and develop, Can you tell us more about the mentorship or guidance you have received from others inside of prison? What do those relationships look like and how are they built/fostered? Do you feel like you are also a mentor to others?

First I’ll like to say that mentorship in here is not at a all time high but when I do speak with the older guys its nothing but love. The relationships is really built on the life sentence. About me being a mentor I am still learning myself but when I can help a friend I do. Continue Reading

Avis Lee on the Endless Frustrations/Pain of Life Without Parole

Letter from Avis Lee on July 20, 2014

Interview #1

I could have certainly answered the questions with a lot more uplifting tone, however, it would have been BS. The reality of a life sentence is ugly; it’s brutal, barbaric, and unending torture of the psyche for sure. Add to that the fact that you’re not the killer and it’s just pure HELL.

Believe me when I tell you that I’m a fighter. I have more support on the outside than I’ve ever had before… but, I’m getting tired fighting. I’ve been locked-up teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s. I’m just weary. I feel like I’m a burden on everyone. I feel like I’m a project sometimes – “the girl with the life sentence” – instead of just Avis. Continue Reading

Avis Lee on Challenging DBI and Imagining the Future

Letter from Avis Lee in October of 2014

Interview #2

If you had the PA General Assembly’s ear or the Governor’s ear for ten minutes, what would you say to them/him?

In 1973, when the legislature revamped the Sentencing Code a seed of confusion and inconsistency was planted regarding parole for lifers. Their (the legislature’s) reworking of the Sentencing Code includes a provision which appeared to extend parole eligibility for some lifers.  Continue Reading