One In Three

The American prison system is a mega money maker that profits largely from jailing Black bodies. Formerly incarcerated criminal justice reform activist Glenn E. Martin explains the damning realities of mass incarceration.

by Glenn E. Martin, September 17, 2015

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My journey to intellectual and spiritual freedom began in 1995 with the bone-crushing grip of a pair of NYPD handcuffs. What followed was a six-year prison sentence in an Attica, N.Y., correctional facility for a first-degree robbery conviction. Referring to my new home as a “correctional facility,” however, was a joke. The place was perverse and abusive; it was fraught with staff misconduct, flooded with illegal drugs and weapons, and devoid of anything that could be considered rehabilitative. 
 
Despite all of that, on  my last day in prison I cried, thinking about the men I was leaving behind. On the opposite end of the hallway I was fast exiting were some of the sharpest minds and the most amazing amount of creativity I had ever witnessed—a glaring contrast to the stereotype America has created of its prison class. While locked up, I saw men boil water in plastic bottles and make toilet paper into wicks that burned long enough to cook on. I saw people light cigarettes with only a pencil and an outlet. I was about to face my new future minus the ingenuity of the fortuitous souls I had come to know, and it hit me that the world had been duped into completely discarding them—me—when in fact, prison was a warehouse of human potential.
 
Read more in the October 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine. 





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