Tag Archives: strategy

Felix Rosado on dispelling the myths about incarcerated people

Letter from Phill on June 8, 2014

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

I’ll be 37 in 3 weeks (which I’d rather not think about!!) and have been fighting a death-by-incarceration sentence for going on 19 years.

My story began in 1977, in Newark, NJ. Pop left mom shortly after my birth. Left with no real choice, mom packed up me and our things and headed over to Reading, PA, where her mother and 14 of her 15 siblings had migrated from PR a few years earlier. We lived in a first floor apartment on Elm Street, in the northeast section of the city, notorious for drugs and violence. Most of the family lived nearby, many on the same block. We spent most of our days and nights together in a red-bricked alleyway that we considered ours. It was our safe space amid the danger.
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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

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.

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Dawud Lee on Struggles Inside and Outside

Letter from Dawud on August 10, 2014

Interview #3

What does successful inside/outside collaboration look like to you? What 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?

Successful inside/outside organizing for me means that conscious people on the outside begin to see and understand the value of the conscious people on the inside. We’ve spent many years working and studying so we can contribute in a positive manner to the struggle for freedom. We know that most of these prisoners are going to someday return to our community, so we want them to return as assets, rather than destructive agents. Outside organizations have more influence than you realize, and with your help we can help transform the currently criminal mentality of the majority of our youth in these prisons, into an activist mentality. The same goes for prison administrations, they treat us differently when they know that we’re represented by committed outside groups and organizations. We can use that credibility to address many issues. Credibility goes a long way with both the prisoners and the administrations we must deal with. Then we can also pull families together to serve as a united force. Continue Reading

Dawud Lee on Organizing and Mentoring on the Inside

Letter from Dawud on June 28, 2014

Interview #2

You mention that you have done a lot of work over the years mentoring youth and providing guidance to them. Would you describe in a little more detail what shapes that work has taken – whether formal or informal in nature?

In regards to mentoring the youth, it has been both formal and informal. It is something that I naturally do. I’ve been able to work with other conscious prisoners to build youth development programs, beginning in Huntingdon. The program ran for a few years, and we were allowed to meet once a month. It was difficult to get the process off the ground because the administration initially told me that no one would be interested in such a program. They were flooded with request slips from the “non-interested prisoners” the very next day. They ended up giving us one day a month which in reality was not enough time, but it turned out to be a successful program which a lot of young men in the prison benefited from. Even here at this institution, SCI Coal Township, we’re trying to erect such a program. We successfully ran a pilot program which started at the end of April and went on for about five weeks. All the men spoke highly of the program and are awaiting a response from the administration in regards to the proposal we submitted to have the program extended. The program centered around discussions about family, community, relationships, respect, love, and much more. Continue Reading