In my most humblest opinion I believe there’s absolutely no reason why government spending on corrections should exceed the needs of public schools. It’s like each inmate, or account, whichever term you prefer covers a correctional employees annual pay; which gives credence as to why most, “not all,” but why most correctional employees, institutional vendors and bail bonds agencies are so reluctant to support prison reform measures that seek to reduce the prison population by releasing inmates serving extremely long sentences, but have proven themselves to have been rehabilitated years ago.

The Preschool To Prison Pipeline is just one component of a longstanding sentiment aspiring to place blacks back onto plantations. Although the 13th and 14th amendments were enacted into law in the late 1800’s, the ideology of Lincoln’s killer(s) permeated far beyond the post antebellum period and showed its face through Black Codes, Jim Crow laws, Peonage, and throughout today’s jurisprudence via its practice of streaming blacks, and poor people alike through the judicial system without affording them Due Process nor Equal Protection of the law. This practice has resulted in an overcrowding of the U.S. prison system with an extremely disproportionate number of blacks who’ve been: a) over charged, b) unduly convicted, c) disenfranchised, and d) unjustly denied appellate relief on a state and federal level:


First and foremost before we proceed any further please allow me to say that by no means do I in any way condone the taking of a life. And with the utmost respect I commend all of the detectives, prosecutors, and judges who carry out the complexities of their daily duties with integrity, impartiality, and mindful compassion for all parties involved. Therefore, the purpose of this illustration is to simply show you how someone can be streamlined through the judicial system without being afforded the equal protection of the law nor the process that was due to them as defined by the State and United States Constitutions:

In 2005 I was charged with 1st degree murder by a trial court that did not abide by any of the mandates set forth in Michigan’s: State Jury Instructions Manual, nor the instructional mandates set forth by the United States Supreme Court or federal district and circuit courts in:

a) Berrier v. Egeler, 428 F. Supp. 750, 752 (E.D. Mich. 1975);

b) Berrier v. Egeler, 583 F. 2d 515, 521 (6th Cir. 1978);

c) United States v. Lofton, 776 F. 2d 918 (10th Cir. 1985), and

d) Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684, 691-704 (1974) which mandated that, “the Due Process Clause requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the ABSENCE of heat of passion on sudden provocation when the issue is properly presented in a homicide case.

What must be stressed at this point is that not every killing warrants a charge of murder. I know that sometimes we struggle with this concept, because whenever someone from the black community pulls the trigger they’re usually charged with first degree murder quick, fast, and in a hurry, with absolutely no regard for the mitigating circumstances surrounding the situation.

But whenever Bill, Bob or officer Tom pulls the trigger the process is drastically slowed down. The prosecutor and judge takes into account all of the surrounding circumstances and mitigating factors. Then they consult the corresponding statutes and jury instructions so that they can get a thorough understanding of the elements and legislators intent – making careful not to over charge. And after taking into account all contributing factors rarely does the government come back with a charge of first-degree murder. It’s usually something less.

So as I stood charged with 1st degree murder in Eaton county Michigan, the trial court, over my objection denied me the right to present a complete and meaningful defense. It’s imperative to the following section that I inform you that the right to present a defense is an inalienable right guaranteed to us all under the United States’ 6th amendment, and is integrated into the common law of American jurisprudence. Therefore, this type of error is what’s known as a structural error. Structural errors aka structural defects can be likened to the four legs of a chair; if one leg is broken then the integrity of the entire chair is compromised and it cannot stand.


For the purpose of clarification I would like to say that I was not charged with voluntary manslaughter, but I did request that it be submitted to the jury as my sole defense to the government’s charge of murder; along with the prosecution’s mandated burden of proof as required by the United States Supreme Court, and the trial Court agreed. However, after agreeing to the submission of this instruction on my behalf, the court took it upon itself to abandon Michigan’s mandatory Jury Instructions: “Use Notes”; which instructed the Court that, “If instructions on voluntary manslaughter are being given as a lesser included offense to the charge of murder, use Michigan Criminal Jury Instruction 16:9,” directly after the murder instruction, because instruction 16:9 informs the jury on how to apply the mitigating factors that would allow them to reduce a charge of murder to manslaughter.

The resulting consequence was that nowhere in the jury instructions did the Court inform nor even suggest to the jury that my sole defense to the government’s charge of murder was that the killing took place in the heat of passion in response to adequate provocation. Nor did the Court or jury instructions inform the jury that the Due Process Clause required the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the ABSENCE of heat in order to find me guilty of murder as mandated by Mullaney, Berrier, and Lofton.

Mental Struggles

By: Joseph Green

In this post I want to be honest and transparent about my own personal mental struggles in hopes of shining the light on the struggles that so many others endure in my situation and even those who are not incarcerated. Yet they are apprehensive to talk about it. Prison is a very dangerous place but it’s main objective and design is to break the mental mindset of everyone that enters its doors.

Coming into this system I had no doubt that physically I could protect myself. I was equipped to handle whatever…so I thought. I didn’t know the amount of stress it would play on me mentally. I was tough on the outside but on the inside I was being mentally broken down. My reality was, I was falsely accused of a murder. I had to watch my beautiful black mother fall victim to her own mental illnesses and drug addiction. My younger brother was also serving a life sentence and it was a strong possibility we would never be face to face again. My niece was growing up without my physical presence. My grandmother was getting sick and had to watch her grandkids grow up in prison. And to top it all off my appeals kept getting denied.

These were my thoughts as the years, months, and days begin to pass for me in this prison system. And I was not prepared for this reality. As my appeals got denied I begin to see people in my life lose hope of my return, write less, visit lesser and financial support became non existent. I was now on my own to face this reality. Not because I wasn’t loved anymore but because when I got sentenced, my life was put on pause.

I never understood or even thought I could have a mental illness. I didn’t want to accept that I was dealing with anxiety,severe depression and PTSD. I tried to numb and mask my pain behind laughter and drugs. If you can relate then you know it only took me away for a moment but my reality was always present. For the first time in my life as a grown man I had to come face to face with Joseph. I had to acknowledge that I was not okay. I was hurting and I needed help. I had to regain control of my mental wellbeing and life.

I wanted and I knew I needed help but I couldn’t trust anyone. I made the decision to talk to a psychologist. This had to be done on the low because I didn’t want anyone to know my business. I knew that in order for me to grow and get better I had to face and address my illness.

Prison is filled with men who strive to keep their street image. Believing that their street rep is what defines them as a man. Yet many are wearing mask pretending to be something they not. Telling war stories and king pin stories trying to validate a image or enhance a ego to make themselves seem tougher, smarter and more important then the next man. And yet we all sit in the same unfortunate position here in prison.

Society forgets that we human beings that have emotions and feelings. I’m in love with a beautiful woman. Many believe that we are absent of such a intense and intimate yearning for another human being. Many men strive daily to express this emotion to their family, friends, children and the woman that sacrifices and supports him with her love and support. Everyone needs support now more then ever with all the stuff happening in today’s world.

Everyone is dealing with something that they may not speak about. If you have a love one or friend incarcerated they have moments of despair, loneliness and flat giving up. Your words of encouragement on any given day may be the spark needed to ignite change, hope, and optimism in a dark and demoralizing condition.

It is a huge stigma placed on mental illness so much so that it is rarely spoke about or addressed. Society tends to avoid or downplay the reality that many imprisoned men and women come from low income or impoverished communities. Where drugs, murder, and violence is a norm which causes us to become desensitized to these hardships and realities of life. We begin to accept these negative things as normal activities of the “hood” and ways of life. But none of these things are normal.
Many men are taught to be emotionless especially when your apart of the street life. Like the soldiers who fight for this country, they are taught to detach their feelings and emotions or risk death. No matter the race, culture, economical or social status we have all experienced some form of mental illness. We don’t have to allow ourselves to be controlled by it. Victor Frankle said,” Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning such as the meaning of sacrifice.”
We suffer from our mental illnesses because we fail to acknowledge they exist. Being incarcerated and battling a mental illness has caused me much suffering but it has also guided me and allowed me to share my experiences and my story in hopes of helping others going through tough times. Your suffering has a purpose and meaning. Remember everyone is going through something. Be that positive light that helps guide them out of darkness. Listen to their voice and help bring about change. Remind them that they are not alone……Things will get better. Have a blessed and peaceful day.


In certain districts the educational system is so underfunded that some teacher, and most certainly not all, because most educators extend for more value to the undertaking of their duties than they can ever be compensated for, but some teachers find themselves so overwhelmed by their workload, and unappreciated by their pay that they’re unmotivated to spend the extra time needed to teach just a few students out of a crowded classroom of many, the fundamentals that they should’ve been taught a few grades back in previous years. Now instead of being brought up to speed in his/her current grade, the student is again just streamlined through to the next grade without learning the prerequisites that qualify them as eligible for the next course of studies. So for the reasons that these students aren’t able to keep up with the rest of the class in their following grade, they’re often classified as slow and placed into remedial classes. But such a classification is not the proper remedy because these students aren’t mentally challenged. It’s just that you can’t reasonably expect for them to know how to apply formulas 3 and 4 if they’ve never been properly taught how to utilize formulas 1 and 2.

So without being able to keep up with what’s going on in their age appropriate grade these students are now categorized as disruptive, and “cast”ed into detention for the duration of the class period or even sometimes for the entire day — producing feelings of inadequacy and disparagement that give way to negative self identity complexes; which manifest themselves through behavioral issues that are often the result of repeated instances of isolation and feelings of rejection. Now since the student feels that he/she doesn’t really fit into the school setting they just may, and often times do find themselves searching for acceptance and identity within crowds that engage in attention seeking activities; that’ll usually land them inside of juvenile centers followed by eventual stints in county jails and ultimately prison. What’s most devastating is that upon their first felony conviction they’re given a dept. of corrections prison identification number, even if the case that they’re convicted of didn’t land them a prison sentence. And what’s even more alarming is that this Preschool To Prison Pipeline closely parallels something more telling, and I’ll give you the background on that next.


During the Civil War, in the year of 1863 Pres Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation against the Confederacy. It proclaimed that all slaves within states that had committed treason against the United States are all now free. However, Lincoln’s emancipation proved ineffective because the Confederacy refused to recognize his authority.

After a 5 year long war, the United States, aka the Union, proved victorious by running off the Confederacy and reuniting the south back into the Union. However, Lincoln and the Republican party feared that the Emancipation Proclamation would be viewed as a tool of war and only effective during that period, and for that reason producing no lasting impact on the issue of slavery. So in response they attempted to create an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would free all men and women forever forward. This amendment would be known as the 13th Amendment.

However, Lincoln would never see this amendment through, because during the period of Reconstruction he was assassinated in April of 1865 by an ideology that harbored deep hatred and resistance towards the emancipation, civil rights and advancements of black people.

But as paradoxical as it may be, his successor Pres. Johnson, who set forth extremely lenient terms for Confederate members’ readmission back into the U.S. political arena, somehow got the bill ratified in December of 1865. Followed by the 14th Amendment; which he had no hand in advancing might I add — only acts of obstructing its passage to the point of being one vote away from impeachment. The reason why Pres. Johnson opposed this bill so boldly is because it was the gateway to guaranteeing all citizens born or naturalized in this country equal protection and due process under the law; something that he despised to his core — and was most eerily echoed within the: “Send her back!” chant, directed at congresswomen: Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. However, in spite of all of his disgusting rhetoric, it still passed in 1868, and was championed by the ratification of 15th Amendment succeeding his presidency — which enfranchised black men with the right to vote.


But how does all of this talk about slavery and the 1800’s relate to today and the Preschool To Prison Pipeline you may be wondering? It relates to today because the 13th Amendment states that:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT as a punishment for a crime whereof the party SHALL have been DULY CONVICTED, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Today’s prisons systems are modern plantations except inmates are not picking cotton. Rather than laboring the land, state and federal tax payers pay for our stay to the tune of approximately $34k a year for each prisoner. This can be likened to the amount of money each slave would produce had he/she worked the land.

How does this affect the American tax payer? It affects the American tax payer because speaking for myself, I haven’t used $34k worth of anything in a year. Hell, I doubt if I’ve charged up $34k worth of anything over the entire fifteen years I’ve been incarcerated: not on health care, dental cost, food, nor clothing. So who uses this tax money? Your money is being spread amongst DOC staff hourly wages and salaries.

Humor Inside The Walls Part 2

All we really have in here to look forward to is the Gym, Chow, mail, store, and of course the weight pit. Each place has its funny moments. The weight pit is by far the funniest. It’s always that one person trying to get everybody to look at him.

True story, one morning I happen to come out and I wanted to hit a few sets on legs. Seems like this is the only station open because everyone runs to chest and arms in prison. I have a pair of sunglasses that I call ‘Busta Blockas’. The name is self explanatory. I go to do my set trying to block all the bustas I can. One guy in particular I try to stay away from. I have been to other prisons with him and he’s the same at every one. This guy a grab all the dumb bells and set them around his bench so people would talk to him. ‘Anybody got these 40’s after you’? Another guy asked him. “Naw bra you can get em’, just bring em’ back”. The guy said showing off one of the biggest gaps I’ve ever seen. Now he has a way of rearranging the weight pit so it’s suitable for him. He’ll start moving in other people areas trying to make room. “Excuse bra, I’m goin put this over here”. He said picking up the preacher bench. “Come on man, keep that shit over there”. One of the regulars said to the guy. “You got enough room over there. Why is you all over here”? One the guys asked him. “Never mind, y’all tripping”. The guy said putting the bench back where it was. Now this guy has been like this for years. I was just observing everything and he actually had all this weight and didn’t lift no dumbbells, all he did was move other things in people areas getting everybody upset. Now it was his turn to sit down and hit his set. I give him credit, he worked out everyday but looked horrible. Fat stomach with small arms and a little chest. He would take his shirt off and put a weight pit belt on around his overlarge stomach, then he would put a large amount of weight on the bar then ask for a spot. Nobody wanted to spot him but you always had some fool that’ll do it. He had way to much weight on the bar and I knew he was not going to lift it. It had to be like 315lbs. I did my set and this guy yelled out loud as hell, “Watch me dawg cuz this shit going up”. He said showing off his Michael Strahan gap. “On ma three dawg, 1 2 3”. He said pushing the bar up. The guy behind him broke it and kept his hand there. He came down hard and bounced it off his chest but it didn’t come back up. The right side was going up but the other side was sort of stuck. “Get da bitch dawg, NIGGA GET THE BITCH OFF ME”. He clenched his teeth struggling to get the bar up. His spotter wasn’t worth a fart. He was trying but he needed help as well. So two more guys ran over to help him. When they got it up on the rack, gap man turned to the spotter and said “Some spot dawg, I almost died”. He said getting angry at the guy. “Man you do this shit everyday, come out here and take all the weight and put the heaviest weight on and try and lift it”. His spotter said defending himself. “All you on some bullshit, I was better off by myself. A anybody want these 50’s”? He asked in a fed up way. It was my third set when he came over to me and asked, “how many more sets you got”? He asked looking at me but only seeing a reflection of himself. “I got a couple left I’ll be sure to let you know when I’m done”. I said not wanting to be bothered. “You mind if I get a couple sets?” He asked already knowing the answer. “Not to be funny but I’m trying to train for something”. I said changing the weight. “Y’all be acting funny with the weights. I ain’t mad doe”. He said getting upset. I had been interrupted by him so I had to reactivate the blockas’. He lingered over to the incline bench looking like a vagabond. His pants were rolled up to his knees, his French braids were struggling to to reach his neck and he had some hand made shoes. Even though I didn’t want him around me he was very creative. He had literally made some gym shoes. They were Adidas on top but Nike on the bottom. This fool done sowed some shoes together. How, I don’t know. He went to the incline bench and put 285lbs on the bar and literally yelled out to the whole weight pit; “Watch me”. Loud as hell. The whole weight pit froze. The guy that spotted him the first time was like “Naw, I’m good, that nigga was musty”. I didn’t want him to hurt himself so I went to spot him. “Good looking, ain’t to many like you”. He said sporting that gap and wrapping his hand around the bar. “On my 3, 1, 2, 3”. He said. I broke it for him and kept my hands close to the bars. He let it come down hitting his stomach and the bar bouncing right back up. He did this 3 more times lifting his ass up to get it. On his last lift he was now struggling. His legs were dancing under him, his whole body was lifted out the seat and his two teeth in the front was biting his bottom lip. You could actually see the spit bubbles coming through his gap from him struggling lifting the weight. I was helping him but he was weak as shit. “I got chu man just keep pushing”. I said trying to get it off of him. “Rack the bitch.” I said trying to put it back. This fool say ;”One more fam”. So I’m like no you burnt. He ended up racking the bar. I headed back to my station and he yelled, “good looking bra bra, you need any of this weight before I leave”? He asked. “Naw I’m good, but good looking.” He took the belt off and grabbed his shirt and left. Soon as he left some guy blurted out “Damn dat nigga a bug dog”. I just shook my head and reset my ‘Busta blockas.

Christopher Clark/Chris x/HP Chris

Introduction – James Wilford

Hello world, I wanted to start my profile off by giving much prop’s and thanks to Thoughts Beyond The Wall and it’s staff. My narme is James “Gumar Oz Dubar Allah” Wilford, I’m a writer from a small town here in Michigan called Albion, but was raised in Lansing, MI. I’m a black male, 6’2, 260 lbs, 42 years old, very intelligent, charismatic and down to earth ( for a horrible photo…smiles). I spend my days writing screenplays & learning my craft, exercising and investing in the most valuable thing I have (my mind)! Also fighting the injustice of over sentencing handed down to me from a known racist judge (30th Circuit, William Collect).
I don’t want to put pressure on anyone to be other then themselves. My goal is to meet a good woman w/a good heart who don’t mind laughing, joking, sharing thoughts and supporting me w/my writing and freedom. I’m open minded to listen to anything you want to share. Also I’m full of fun and surprises. If you have a open mind and cool w/a new experience PlEASE don’t hesitate to respond to me for a more personal build (conversation) via or snail mail: James Wilford #264510, 3225 John Conley Dr., Lapeer, MI 48446
As a member of The Nation of Gods & Earths(NGE) it’s customary to draw up how I see (3rd Eye) today’s degree (date) using the Supreme Mathematics and Supreme Alphabet. Today is the 11th, the 11th number in the alphabet is “K”, which is “King or Kingdom”. How I cee King or Kingdom is: A king(mind) is one w/the ability to direct and control his brain(body/flesh/dome)…thus, a King’s Dome is heaven!
Jesus was once asked were is the Kingdom of God(heaven) and he replied “The Kingdom of God is inside you.”(Luke 17: 20-21) Daily they continue to teach the masses that Heaven is a place rather then a state(condition of mind). If your like me then I bet you bought that hook line and sinker, never even stopping to question it. Personally I don’t know of anyone who has been to Heaven and came back to tell me about the experience. B.u.t now that you are informed you have the choice to choose to either remain ignorant or just plain gullible. Either way it’s up to you.
Life lessons has taught me that either you gonna control your brain or it’s gonna control you. Let’s be honest not everybody can control what they let get to them ( over due bills, stress, lost loved ones, etc.)….(to be to be continued… )



What do I mean? Well, have you ever wondered for example why, aside from demographics, why most, “not all,” but why most doctors across the country are often white or of Asian descent. Well it’s most certainly not because black children don’t aspire to be doctors or aren’t capable of achieving a doctorate. If that’s what you thought then please Google the recently publicized: College Admissions Scandals. And then look up surgeon Daniel Hale Williams, who in 1893 performed the first “successful” open heart surgery shortly after founding Provident Hospital in 1891. Provident Hospital was not only the first black owned hospital, but unlike other hospitals it welcomed an interracial staff, and provided a nurses training school for black women during a time when they were barred from participating in such programming elsewhere.

Then check out hematologist and surgeon Charles Richard Drew, who in the 1930’s when medical science hadn’t yet figured out how to preserve blood for no longer than a few days, he took it upon himself to set up the first blood bank after separating and discovering that blood plasma, which is the liquid portion of blood without cells, can be stored for much longer terms.

While we’re in the researching mood check out scientist and mathematician Benjamin Banneker, who amongst many more things is known as “the man who saved Washington D.C.. From memory Banneker planned the survey and reconstructed the blueprint for the building of the Nation’s capital city – Washington D.C. in as little as two days, after Pierre L’Enfant, a French engineer abruptly abandoned the project and took with him his drafted plans. After executing such an insurmountable task in so little time, this world renowned astronomer, Benjamin Banneker went on to print a series of ten annual almanacs, in which he accurately predicted solar eclipses and the movements of celestial bodies.

How about aeronautical mathematician Katherine Johnson, who graduated from highschool at the tender age of fourteen? Then went on to participate in advanced collegiate programs that led her to perform phenomenal works with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), by helping the country execute feats that never would’ve been accomplished without her assistance for many years to come. What are some of these accomplishments you may be wondering? Well for starters in 1959 she calculated the flight trajectory for the first American to go into space, and three years later in 1962 she verified the mathematics for John Glenn’s orbit around the earth, and most memorable and equally amazing if not more amazing, she calculated the flight trajectory for Apollo 11’s one and only flight to the moon in 1969.

And what about Thurgood Marshall-the Social Architect. He won numerous notable cases in private practice, one of which was 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education. Which challenged and overturned the U.S. Supreme Court’s long standing “separate but equal” standard decided in Plessy v. Ferguson back in 1896, and out of the 32 cases he argued before the United States Supreme Court he won 29 of them. Then followed his flawless record up with becoming a United States Court of Appeals judge who never had not one of his 112 opinions overturned on appeal — before earning the position of Solicitor General of the United States, and ultimately Justice of the United States Supreme Court of America.

And lastly we have billionaire Robert Smith, who recently paid it forward by paying off Morehouse’s entire graduating class of 2019 student loan debts. So hopefully this brief glance of contributions hidden amongst a sea of many more clears up any misconceptions of what blacks are capable of creating, achieving and have contributed to the advancements of this country. However, there’s a whole ‘nother class of students that you may never get to hear about due to the fact that their potential is often stunted far before it can even be nurtured and realized. And this class of students are the products of what’s known as the Preschool To Prison Pipeline.

Have you ever heard of it? In many districts funding for public school education has been etched away so badly that schools are getting shutdown left and right, and for the ones that do remain open, in certain communities teachers sometimes have no option but to spend personal funds on needed supplies, or set up school supply drives just to supplement the lack of resources allocated towards their profession. For more info Google; which is one of Detroit’s leading news stations for reports on school funding, and teacher hosted school supply drives that were orchestrated by teachers.

How does lack of funding contribute to this “so-called” Preschool to Prison Pipeline that I speak of you’re wondering? Well, it contributes because lack of funding leads to a lack of opportunities, and the lack of opportunities creates disparities in success. And as Thurgood Marshall stressed: whether it be by statute or through unspoken rules, the practice of separate treatment can never be equal. In an effort to avoid these unspoken practices you have individuals like Tanya McDowell and Kelly Williams; wherefore one of them, if not both found themselves sentenced to time in jail for simply changing a zip code to get her child into a good school district. While individuals of affluence who went to unacceptable extremes to get their unqualified children into college were sentenced to only a few days, if any at all. Now one thing that I do know is that our children are smart. Many of them have the ability to be lawyers, doctors, astrologers and more, but the reality for the ones caught up in the judicial system is that from day one many of them have been streamlined through the educational system and right into the prison system, or perhaps on their way, and here’s how it breaks down.


First and foremost please allow me to take a moment to say Thank You for taking the time to read this. It’s most definitely not your everyday topic, but after reading it I promise you that you’ll see things differently, because in one way or another the subjects within affects us all. I look forward to your thoughts and comments. Contact me at: Edmund Fields #487029

Thumb Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Dr.
Lapeer, Michigan 48446


I pretty much grew up under what you would consider normal circumstances. As an adolescent migrant for lack of better words, from Chicago’s south side to Lansing, MI’s south side in search of a better life; I can say that my parent’s pretty much nailed that one dead on, because upon the surface of things Lansing was nice in all facets of the meaning.

However, as the weeks turned into months and the months to years I realized that our new city was no better than the old one, if not worse. For instance, in the new city upon the days start I couldn’t just step outside of our old building and yell up to the third floor for Nicki, Booby, Keisha, and Raphael, who were our most memorable childhood friends to come down and accompany my brothers and I down at the playground for a Kool-Aid icy. Instead I was greeted by early morning brawls with Antonio and Javaris as I journeyed across the park to my grandmother’s place. But friends we eventually became, because even as children the divinity within our human nature desires us all to only want to see the best in one another.

After what seemed as only a few short years my parent’s suffered a divorce, and as most children do my three brothers and I remained in my mother’s care. Till this day I can vividly remember a few mornings in the darkness of the a.m. hours secretly trailing behind my mother as she waited for the city bus to pick her up for work. And if ever discovered, never obeying her commands to return home right away, but instead patiently waiting nearby until I saw the bus’ lights illuminating through the dense fog; then I’d turn and head home; only to move slowly as I constantly gazed back to make sure that the bus driver didn’t pass my mother by.

Consequently, a short time later we were evicted out of our south Lansing home, but just before we returned back to Chicago to be housed at my grandmother’s place in the Hundreds, the managers of an apartment complex in East Lansing had a heart. They gave my mother and her four boys a place to live until she got on her feet. And that she did, because there was never a night that my brothers and I didn’t rest asleep in the comfort of our two-story townhome after a warm four course meal. Well four-star was more like it, because all of the neighborhood kids loved dropping by my mother’s place, and even my father’s too for dinner. They thought that my parent’s were the best cooks they’d ever known; which was more likely the truth because my folks could throw down. Till this day I thank God for second chances: for blessing my mother with the opportunity to be heard by someone with a heart to see the best in others.

Highschool was pretty cool. I made the honor role my ninth grade year. I guess I can thank Mrs. Hartman for that one. As a child I practically lived in detention, but when I met her during my fifth and sixth grade years it seemed like schools in East Lansing didn’t even have a detention room. I remember she’d always give me what my young mind perceived at the time as a hard time, by having these impressionable talks with me of how when she was my age she and her sister were placed in persecution by Nazi soldiers, and forced into heartbreaking circumstances simply because they were born Jewish. She’d often tell me that there was something different about me because she could see the strength of her younger-self within me, but unless I come to understand the value of an education I’d never be able to realize nor utilize that strength. And with that being said, she stressed that people who look just like me had to fight just to be able to partake in a quality education — simply because they were born black, and never should I take such an opportunity for granted. Making me read in repetition, I finally got it! I finally became a fluent reader, and as a result even under my current circumstances albeit unfortunate, I am now a college prep History instructor, and also a Personal Investment instructor. I guess that was that divine ol’ human nature showing up once again, but this time through the face of a sweet little ol’ German woman with the desire to install vision in a young blind boy. I said blind because up until the age of about ten when I first met Mrs. Hartman I couldn’t read a lick; literally. But her persistence encouraged me beyond what would have been a limited horizon, and later lead to enrollment and employment with Lansing Community College’s Career & Employment Services Office, and also their Student Counseling & Academic Advising Dept.

Being incarcerated and yet an active participant in educational programming has allowed me to give back to not just my own community, but to society as a whole. It’s given me an avenue to bring out the best in others just as it was done for me, by providing students from diverse parts of the State with a relative way to learn, as well as the motivation to want to do so. But on the flip side of things it’s also given me a direct observation of, for example, how depending on what district or community you’re from the playing field is definitely “not” leveled.

Embrace Your Kids

When I was young I was introduced to violence like most kids are to cartoons. One of my earliest memories is one that has scarred me both mentally and physically. I still have nightmares about it 23 years later. When I was seven years old I was shot on New Years Eve. I almost died because of a stray bullet that found its way into my bedroom window due to the traditional gunfire celebrating the beginning of a new year. Which lead to a fear of guns, It sounds absurd saying that because pretty much since the age of twelve I’ve had one of my own. I watched silently and helplessly as domestic violence riddled my household almost every single day. Alcohol played a big role in this, and I’ve had several family members that were and still are addicted to the bottle. Which lead to a fear of alcohol, again its ironic because I myself partook in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. By the age of thirteen I was a full fledge weed head who dabbled in liquid courage.
My whole life I’ve been provided every opportunity to make something of myself. I could of took several different routes than the one I ended up traveling. Yet I still and knowingly sabotaged my life like a terrorist hellbent on proving his self to a cause he doesn’t truly believe in. I knew what would happen to me If I continued down the road I was on. It terrified me that I might end up dead or in prison, but I couldn’t quite escape the persona and lifestyle that had be glamorized my entire childhood.
To often people are their own worst enemy, I know I was. I’ve earned this 15year prison sentence. Its no one else’s fault but my own that I’ve had to watch my beautiful daughter grow up from behind bars.
I’ve lost so much because I chose not to use all the talent God gave me, because I felt the need to be a follower instead of a leader. I’ve learned so much about myself and life since I been in prison. God has saved me yet again, and It must be for a good reason. Now I’m determined to use this second chance for good. I want to help young adults learn from my mistakes instead of them suffering and stumbling along learning as they go. Because our criminal justice system isn’t fair and it doesn’t care about our children making mistakes. The first chance they get they’ll lock them up and throw away the key. Innocent until proven guilty is a myth.

If our children are the future we must invest an give all of ourselves so that they’ll have the brightest future possible.
Embrace your kids, show them you love them endlessly. Be role model worthy even when they’re not watching because guess what….they’re always watching, learning, and emulating us. We are our children’s first example of what to be like. Be the very thing you want them to be…or as close to it as possible. They won’t be far behind…

Christopher Lewis #828689

Humor Inside The Walls

A lot of individuals look at prison like asylum or a place where smiles and laughter doesn’t occur. That’s completely wrong. Even though I was sentenced to natural life w/o parole I try to find something to smile and joke about everyday. It’s like when I come out the cell in the morning to floss and hit my grill I might see a person and they just laugh. It’s not the laughs like ‘look at this stupid MF’ but it’s the laughs of ‘damn you had crying laughing yesterday’.

God has given people talent and it’s up to us to find it. My talent isn’t in sports (well it might be because I’m pretty good in all sports), but I don’t know how to sing, and I’m not an artist. What I do possess is the talent to make people laugh and smile. It doesn’t stop with inmates but staff as well.

I’m incarcerated with all walks of life and it’s guys in here that do not want to show a sign of a smile but I shoot that down so quick. It was one guy years ago he would ask the homies was I outside because he wanted to be fake mad all day and complain about tedious things. He would yell out the window and say ‘Man is Chris out there because I ain’t tryna laugh cause I don’t feel like it today’. Little did he know I was on the side of the building hiding when one of my homies lied and said no. Soon as he came out he started complaining, ‘Man why the bathroom so dirty and why y’all keep laughing’? He asked looking puzzled. So when I came from around the building I yelled ‘Come here and get that evil off you. You need a hug’. When I tell you this fool took off running back inside the building laughing shouting ‘Man get the hell away from me’. My job was done, I had put a smile on his face before he escaped the bear hug. He came to the window fake mad saying we play to much and needed to grow up and he slammed his window and we busted crying laughing.

I wish I could actually record this stuff because I can’t make it up. We call our cafeteria the chow hall for what reason I don’t know. So we have meals that no one eats but it’s always this one person that’s gonna collect it from everybody and make the whole unit suffer. I’ll explain later about the suffering. But this fool would sit in the chow hall with a altered state coat with a another pocket stitched inside the coat. We have a meal called cat head and it’s Salisbury steak but it’s no where near a steak but it does stank. So he a have his coat open and ask everybody that walks past ‘you eating that tray’? So this fool a grab the tray and dump it inside his new pocket that has a garbage bag inside of it. Once the garbage bag is filled he racks his tray and heads to the unit. The whole unit automatically knows what he’s gonna do. He comes to microwave with 40 cat heads, not to remind you you only get 2 per person and they’re bout the size of little meat balls. I come up and he has the microwave on 20 minutes. ‘Man how y’all let this fool get in front of y’all’? I asked pissed off. ‘Wait cho turn playa, y’all down nar watchin’ love & hip hop and y’all shoulda’ hopped cha’ ass up to the microwave’. His English was horrible and he was making all of us suffer from the lingering smell of old shoes, spoiled hamburger meat, old rust, and gravy. He would take it out and stur it up put it back in and licked the spoon. ‘Ughhh’. I said under my breath. The whole unit suffered every other Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter how much we talked about him he went harder. The officer would come out and yell, ‘Who in da hell done stole cat head out the chow hall’ because he now smelled it. Everybody was laughing now because this fool because he was only on his 8th minute and we were fed up with his BS. Still waiting he would tap his feet humming Missy Eliot – I can’t stand the rain’ song looking into the microwave. ‘Man please can we have some time in the microwave’? I asked in sarcastic way. ‘You want some time? Well buy you damn watch’. He snapped back. I had no choice but to laugh and so did everybody else. The microwave line was as long a roller coaster line at Cedar Point. He literally used the whole time. When he was done he took the bowl out and went about his way lighting the whole unit up with that foul odor. He yelled back to me and said ‘next time stop talking so damn much in the chow hall and you’ll beat me back witcho’ nosey ass’….Christopher. He said pausing sounding like the neighborhood wino. Then he flashed his gold tooth smiling like Joe Peshi off of the movie ‘Home Alone’.

But these are the things we experience in prison. I know that Covid- 19 has everyone on edge but we deserve to smile and I’m hoping that you did after reading this.

Christopher Clark/Cx/HP Chris