2nd Chance At Life
Letters From Christopher
13 YEARS AND COUNTING~
To any young brother or sister that is willing to read these words. I know you don't know me but, I hope that what you read will help you to see the real value of your own life and truly appreciate the pricelessness of your freedom......
Time and loved ones are some of the most valuable things in life. They can't be bought and once they are gone you can never get them back. I've been gone since I was 18 and I just turned 31. I have lost my entire 20's. Its been 13 years and counting, and I'm still counting losses.
All it took was one bad decision to trick myself off the streets and I been catching hell ever since, dragging those that care about me along with me. Misguided loyalty, ego, and a false sense of manhood led to me being involved in a shootout and my mom's door kicked off the hindges when police came to arrest me. Getting thrown in the county jail and being slapped in the face with reality as I'm told what I'm charged with. Stressing about making bond and how I'm going to pay for a lawyer. Being put on the news and being painted like a monster, worried about trial, then being convicted of aggravated assault, sentenced, and finally stripped of everything.
Getting locked up and going to prison means your life is no longer your own. You belong to the state and you are stripped of everything. Stripped of your choice to decide anything about your own life. What you will eat, where you will sleep, what you will wear, and what you will do. In other words you can kiss PlayStation, Pizza, Lebron's, and TruReligion jeans goodbye. You are stripped of your pride. You are stripped of your very identity.
You are placed in an environment that produces constant tension and conflict between people. In here you have people that have been down for 20 years with life sentences that are Bloods, Crips, GD's, Ghostface, and whatever else you can think of that have made up their mind that their set is all they have. So if you are affiliated with any of these, you have to be ready and know your lit, or you will become a target.
Privacy no longer exists being forced to live in a room the size of a mop closet with 3 other men. Nine times out of ten one of your roommates will have serious charges or serious mental problems. So good luck getting some rest. On top of that having to deal with guards talking to you crazy and treating you like worthless garbage.
You no longer get to have a real relationship with a woman because they never stick around. Limited visitation, talks on the phone, or letters is never enough to keep them. Friends forget about you and family members start dying on you, all while you sit on pause and watch the rest of the world move on without you.
13 years and counting I've been on pause trying to keep up with the world through books, T.V., and social media constantly showing me what I have been missing. 13 years and counting having to watch my family grow up through pictures. I've been gone so long after eating nothing but state food that I have forgotten what real food taste like. It makes me wonder what else I've forgotten......
Once you allow the system to get a hold of you, you become nothing but a number, an investment, a piece of property that it can make money off of. Lawyer fees, bonds, collect calls, commissary, free labor, music, etc. And the harder you try to fight to get out of its grasp, its like the harder it tries to pull you in like quick sand.
The streets try to make prison seem like a badge of honor, like you earn a stain, stripes, or get your rank up. Like it makes you real, a big homie, or some rites of passage to being hard. Before I got locked up from the outside looking in, I didn't necessarily think that way, but I didn't take it seriously. I never thought that me engaging in shootouts or thinking I was Rambo would lead me here. I didn't think it was a bid deal and that everybody gets locked up. Honestly I never thought I would get caught nor did I care. I didn't seen it as throwing my life away.
When you start making decisions that jeopardize your freedom, decisions that jeaporodize your own safety and the safety of others, its only a matter of time before you become face to face with the legal system. And once you get caught in its web, getting a second chance is like hitting the lottery. 13 years and counting....... And I'm still fighting for my second chance.
~ MORE THAN JUST A NUMBER~
I have a name......
I have an identity......
I have a life.....
I AM MORE THAN JUST A NUMBER.
From the moment that I was arrested the process of being stripped of humanity began. The dehumanizing experience of being shackled like an animal and corralled into the county jail where I was stripped naked, searched, and my body sprayed down with chemicals like a dog with fleas.
The dehumanizing experience of having my name and my identity all taken from me and replaced with inmate followed by a series of numbers. I wonder if this is what my ancestors felt being stripped stripped of their identity as they were turned into slaves. I was no longer considered a part of society and it was evident in how I was and anyone else whose identity was replaced by numbers were treated....
As time passed and days turned to years, I was stamped with many different numbers. Indictment numbers, docket numbers, case numbers, GDC numbers, sentence review panel numbers, appellate numbers, and the list goes on as well as the numbers.
From the very beginning the type of number that they assign you, mainly the length of your sentence, determines how you will be written off. But it didn't really dawn on me until I kept noticing how people changed after I told them or they found out how long my sentence was. As if it was the determining factor on the value of life or the content of my character. I encountered this in so many ways.
Family and friends that fade from embracing you like a distant memory. Prison Administration and counselors that tell me I don't qualify for help and do not look forward to being enrolled in any classes they offer because my tentative parole month( another number) is too far off. Female interests that go from thinking the world of me to dropping me like a bad habit once they become aware of my numbers. And simply being counted every couple of hours like inventory in a warehouse.
With prison often described as an industry, do these numbers reflect commerce? The booming profits that are made through commissary, collect calls, money transfer systems, clothing, vending machines, music, and various other ways that prisons make money is all centered around the inmate.
You are forced to become a dependent consumer. Your number represents a potential streamline of income that the prison bussines will make for a specific period of time. In other words, however long your sentence is, is how long you will be forced to pay me if you want to survive or keep in touch with your family and society. I've seen on many occasions where an "indigent" person who doesn't have any money coming in or going to commissary is paroled before someone who purchases commissary regularly.
This would explain why no efforts or effective forms of rehabilitation are established in GDC. A repeat offender is viewed as a faithful customer. The prison industry can only thrive on cultivating repeat offenders. If this wasn't the case, then why are prisons continuously over crowded? Why wouldn't you release prisoners when it would lift the burden on tax budgets?
Because saving taxpayers' money will never equal to the prison industry making money. Because saving taxpayers money equals to the prison industry losing money.
To the court system, I am a piece of property, bar coded, stashed away in a warehouse and inventoried every few hours. To the prison industry, I am a source of revenue working hand in hand, and to both, I'm merely nothing but a number.
I have a name.....
I have an identity.....
I have a life....
AND I'M MORE THAN JUST A NUMBER.