When you think of heartbreak, many tend to associate it with either love or the loss of someone important to you. But author Issac J. Bailey experienced heartbreak well before he took interest in romance.

At the tender age of just nine years old, Bailey witnessed his eldest brother and hero, Moochie, be hauled away in handcuffs for the murder of a White man in Bonneau, South Carolina. For 32 years, Moochie served life behind bars, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement.

In his eye-opening new book, award-winning Sun News reporter and Harvard Nieman Fellow, Issac J. Bailey details the profound impact of Moochie’s crime on his life. In the work, Bailey also seeks to answer a tough and persistent question: Why his brother, and other Black men of a young age including half of the 10 boys in his own family, end up funneled into the nation’s criminal justice system.

What is the role of poverty, race and drug abuse in this funneling? What effect, if any, does residing in the South (the Bible Belt) have on young Black men going to prison? These are some of the questions that Bailey seeks to answer in his work while exploring “race and culture in the United States and the indelible legacy of crime and violence, not just for the victims, but the perpetrators and their families as well,” a press release sent to EBONY states.

“As a member of the perpetrator’s family, you don’t know what you are allowed to feel, or think. Victims can mourn, and others will help them mourn. When prosecutors and pundits talk about justice, they are referring to victims and their families, not families like mine,” Bailey writes. “Why should anybody give a damn that the ripple effects of crime change our lives, too, given that they are committed by people like us? We don’t get to mourn.”

By sharing his personal experiences with trauma, Bailey’s My Brother Moochie represents a much larger story about the deeply rooted effects of systematic racism, the Jim Crow South and how race, poverty, violence, crime, opportunity and drug abuse intersect.

My Brother Moochie is available on Amazon.