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.