Undiscovered Talent

On of the biggest difficulties that I come across on a daily basis has to be the undiscovered talent and skills individuals have, and us ‘inmates’ are the only ones that tend to see them. With very limited access to the outside environment, many of the talents and beautiful skills that these incarcerated individuals have go undiscovered for years (and sometimes even lifetimes) without ever being discovered by normal society. This is one of the things that tends to rub me in the wrong way.

Freedom of expression in our free world (country) should be and unalienable right? Am I wrong? And without the proper platforms for these types of expressions to reach the free world, turns into a form of oppression in my personal opinion. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few ways that we can contact the outside , but we have to pay for it in order to do these things. From buying postage stamps, J-Pay stamps, and collect and debit calls. J-Pay & GTL Phone services offer very few things for individuals whole are not fortunate enough to have financial support on the outside. This not only inhibits people from reaching out to the people who could spread the word of their particular gifts and talents, but this is also morally crushing as well.

The state offers employment, but the waiting list for a job opportunity can be very lengthy. Additionally, over the years the educational opportunities have become fewer and fewer.
In conclusion, another terrible thing is that this bill that was rescinded after many people across Virginia were promised closer release dates. My time is very short so I have to end this as briefly as possible because of the time limit on the kiosk. But these are some of the things that aren’t right from my perspective. We need more people to notice the true Brilliance Behind Bars!!

J. Reinard #1523818
Lawrenceville Correctional Center

TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING! by Jerry James

TALKING LOUD, but SAYING NOTHING!
TALKING LOUD, but SAYING NOTHING!
TALKING LOUD, but SAYING NOTHING!
TALKING LOUD, but SAYING NOTHING!

Every 2 years state Delegates run for election. They promise tax paying citizens they will do this and do that– TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING!

Some of them even tell you they believe in second chances any prison reform. TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING!

They get in front of cameras taking photos, talking to crowds, shaking hands. TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING!

Then they go behind closed doors having meeting after meeting not taking into consideration the outcome of their decisions, they make on people lives. TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING!

We say Black Lives Matter. We say White Lives Matter. We say Latino Lives Matter. We say ALL Lives Matter. But here we are 53 days and counting with the budget amendment to the enhanced sentence credit bill that affected a little over 8,000 inmates behind the prison walls. There are about 53% of Black men behind bars in VADOC. There are 38% White men behind bars in VADOC. There are about 2% Latino men behind bars in VADOC—and less than 1% of other nationalities behind bars in VADOC. TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING!

July 24th there was a rally for what happened to the ESC for our loved ones to show up to have their voices heard. Sad to say only about 60 people showed up. TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING!

Families are we going to stop TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING and rally together to fix the injustice that was done to all of us! So that your loved ones can get the chance they have rightfully EARNED! 

If you really care, you will get on board with prison reform advocates at the next rally coming up.  STOP TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING!

To the national groups like NAACP, we need your support too because you say you stand for Black Lives Matter. You say you stand for injustice to our people! STOP TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING!

There are many behind bars for some 15+ years that’s spent time rehabilitating ourselves, taking programs, remaining infraction free and maintaining employment. We are not the men/women we use to be–at least some of us are not. Why penalize us for the violent crime that is still happening in VA today. We want to help make a difference and join forces with the community, advocate groups and law enforcement to make change happen.

I say to you today, “You without sin cast the first stone!”  Let’s put an end to TALKING LOUD but SAYING NOTHING and start TALKING LOUD and DOING SOMETHING! 

Written by Jerry L. James, #1157844
Brilliance Coordinator @ Deerfield Correctional Center

Sharing the Case of George M. Lynch Jr.

“I was arrested in 1991 for multiple armed robberies and malicious wounding. I had charges in Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia. I was convicted in Maryland for robbery, use of a firearm, and shooting in an occupied dwelling. The charges were dropped in D.C. I was extradited to VA to face criminal charges in 1992, while serving a 5 year sentence in MD. After finishing going to court and receiving my time in VA, I was extradited back to MD to finish my sentence in 1994. I made parole in MD and was extradited back to VA penitentiary in 94. I never was released in between my extradition. That was my first offense. I was sentenced to serve a total of 58 years with parole.

In 1995, I received a letter from court and legal telling me that due to the change of the law, I would not be eligible for parole. Court and legal placed me under the “three strike” rule (53.1-151(B1)). They unlawfully took my parole. In 2018, I received a letter saying I might have been placed under the wrong law. I explained to them my situation and they reinstated my parole. I was suppose to be eligible for parole in 2003. I missed 15 years of seeing the parole board. Now that I’m going up, they keep turning me down due to nature of crime and haven’t served enough time. I’ve been incarcerated for 30 years and 8 months. I was 18 years old when I got arrested.”

George M. Lynch
#1181371

A Letter From Jerry James to State Leaders

To The Senators and Delegates,

My name is Jerry L. James. I am a first-time offender who received 73 years with 35 years suspended, which left me with a 38-year sentence. As I sit here at Deerfield Correctional Center, 22 years later, I have done all I can to rehabilitate myself by completing mind-changing programs, as well as getting my G.E.D., plus enrolled myself into college to receive an Associate’s Degree in Biblical Studies.

I also remained charge-free for 17 years of the 22 years I’ve done already. I give all praises to God, who has given me the strength to hold on this long. Not knowing there wasn’t no parole for the new-law prisoners when I came in the system which make it very hard to know you have to do all your time unless you receive a pardon by the Governor. Which we know is like winning the Mega Millions – a slim shot to none.

When the the General Assembly voted and passed the enhanced earned sentence credit bill in 2020, which gives guys like myself a sense of hope for an opportunity to earn more good time to be able to go home a little earlier because we’re only getting 4.5 days a month of good time as I speak. But as we know, Governor Youngkin added a Budget Amendment that replaced the bill -which caused guys like myself to be exempt from getting something that we worked hard to get.

I had to tell my 71-year old father the bad news. He is still recovering from a stroke he had a few years back. I know I did wrong to get in here, but with 10 more years to do, please somebody have some type of compassion and give me a chance and the guys like myself, before our love ones will be no more.

l would like to thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. If you would like to contact me with feedback, questions, or just a conversation. Go to the app store, and download the JPay app, using my name and number to create an account to email me.

Jerry L. James
#1157844

Why I Believe “CHANGE” is Possible

I would like to thank you ll for this opportunity to share my thoughts and feeling, about the current status of the VADOC, and its policy. I have been incarcerated for almost 30 years, and by no means am I asking that anyone should feel sorry for me. I committed one of, if not the worse crime, I took another person’s life.

With that said most of the men incarcerated today (90-95%), will be released back into someone’s community. I know for many of you this is a very scary thought. Now that we know this fact, my question to you today is: who do you want that man or woman to be? One that has been given the opportunity to change, or a very angry person? The next question is: do you believe people are capable of “CHANGE?” If so don’t we want these men and woman who could be your neighbor, to at the very LEAST be given that chance.

In my almost 30 years of incarceration, I have held many jobs, some for the income to support myself. For the last 5 years, I have worked as an Elder/Peer Mentor in the Deerfield Correctional Center Re-entry Program, and I can say without a doubt this has been the most rewarding job I’ve held. This gave me the opportunity to see first hand that people can “CHANGE.” It also allowed me to help others, and myself at the same time. It is so amazing how much you learn about yourself when you are helping someone else. The other thing that I have learned is “CHANGE” is a personal choice, there is nothing anyone can do until the person wants that “CHANGE” for him, or herself. The best part of my job was to see that light come on for them. This is why it is so important to have these programs and opportunities in place for those man and women who want help. They may not always know how to ask, but I know change is possible because l have seen the change, and am lucky enough to be here to help these men when they are ready.

The very sad truth is under our new Governor, we have lost the re-entry program here at DFCC. The re-entry program provides the time and opportunity for these men to make that “CHANGE” in programs like Thinking for a Change, and Victims Impact. The focus seems to be more about punishment, not rehabilitation; which we all know does not work. If it did, why are so many men and women locked up today? I know it sounds great to say ‘lock them up and throw away the key,’ and if that was the end, that might work – but that brings me back to this fact: 90-95% will be released.

My hope in writing this is just to say we can “CHANGE.” I have changed, I have grown, but it was not easy. The most important thing is I wanted help. I have taken responsibility for all my action. I know I caused a lot of pain to so many good people, some that I can never repair. It also doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. The last thing that I would like to leave you with is: one of the answers to the violence that we are seein today is not the police – its men like myself, who will be willing to go out into those community and speak to these young men, and women to tell them there are other choices – you too, can “CHANGE.”

Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. If you would like to contact me with your feedback, questions or a longer conversation, go to the app store and download the JPay app using my name and number to create an account and email me.

I have not lost hope and I won’t, nor will I give up on “CHANGE.”

Kenneth Bibbs #1114910
Deerfield Correctional Center

Thinking Within

What’s poppin’ my God’s & Goddesses of the Universe? I invade your atmosphere as God of my Universe in the name of Allure The Seer of Truth and as always, I want to give a warm and genuine thank you and salute to the brilliant founder of this platform, Q.

I want to start off by saying: “The devil’s time is up. These are desperate times for the devils for they know what most of us know not.” I know what they think I know not, I don’t feel bad cause I know and understand they are 100% weak and wicked they have no good in them. So when they do things of this nature, I understand it is their nature to do so. The evolution of extraordinary things is happening before our physical eyes but we have to give more attention to our mental eye for it is the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-wise. These devils do these hideous things to us because they know we care about the material rather than the most precious jewel on earth, universe, which is ‘US’. If what we’ve been doing isn’t working, then let’s do something different. For example, Dragonball Z, when a villain comes with all physical powerful strength, they use their energy and thoughts to ‘in-think’ the villain. I say ‘in’ because within is where everything exists, and is projected out. GET It?

Let’s use our energy together and overcome everything that is not us. For all that belongs to us, do your research on self and find out how powerful you really are.

Allure The Seer of Truth
DeAnthony Clark
#1411732, is where you can reach me on JPay.

Challenge

Hello my name is Leroy Williams, and I’ve been in prison since I was 18, now I’m 44 and I am not the same person I was when I was 18!! Not to make light of what I done to be in prison, but I am being punished for who I use to be, and not who I’ve become. Our current Governor made that crystal clear when he repealed the bill that would have allowed those that made the necessary to better themselves. It’s a challenge, but we must move forward with the same intensity that brought us this far. There’s an understanding that we want to make sure we do the right thing and not play politics with people lives.

Yes, I am very strong due to my faith. But for those that are not, I want to encourage them and believe that God is still working behind the scheme.

Your brother,
Leroy Williams
#1162777

Speech by Q at the Rally Against Earned Sentence Credit Revocation

Listen as Q speaks at the rally about what it’s like to be incarcerated right now, and what it’s like to do too much time. He also addresses all of us out here and reminds us how much WE can take action and show up as families of the incarcerated. Thank you to Voice for the Voiceless, Humanization Project, Delegate Don Scott and others who were able to show support today. The work isn’t done!

Our editor, Santia, holds an iPhone to the microphone for the public to hear.

Too Much Time: July Prompt

It’s been about a month since Governor Youngkin dastardly used his power to amend the state’s budget and deny thousands of deserved inmates a chance at an earlier start on a new life in the free world…

Advocates have rallied in the name of those incarcerated. Media outlets have been taking notice. The time has come for us who are imprisoned to speak for ourselves… WE have a voice, and we have a platform. Brilliance Behind Bars belongs to us all. Let’s let the world know what goes on behind the walls – the things apathetic politicians deliberately hide from the public eye…

Write an essay, compose a poem, or just drop some quotes describing your personal struggles in the penitentiary for your own rehabilitation, and explain how the denial of justice has affected you and your family. Explain to the public, legislators, advocates, etc. why you deserve a shot at an earlier release date. Remember: the world is really taking notice now. Let your voices be heard!

Do not forget to include your name and any contact information for any readers who may be able to offer you some assistance.

I have more love than you can imagine for each and every one of my brothers and sisters on this side of the struggle. I pray we find the light in these dark times.

Sending love, blessing, strength, and hope,
-Q

Too Much Time: A Letter to the VA State Leaders about the Budget Amendment Rollback of Earned Sentence Credits

By Quadaire Patterson

I can say, with utmost certainty, that I have been in prison for TOO LONG. And the longer I stay, the harder it is for me to keep my spirits high, to give my all to the pursuit of ‘better,’ and to truly be the change I’ve become.

Despite the DOC’s egregious lack of true focus on rehabilitation, I know that I have made the most of my 14 years behind bars by leading my own journey to being the best version of myself. Day in and day out, waking up in prison slowly gnaws away at the intensity of that inspiration and stifled MY momentum… but never totally extinguished it.

I plea with Virginia state leaders to save my spirit and others like it, as time in prison can be just as destructive to a person, as it can be in rehabilitating them. It is true, time heals all wounds; but too much time begins to erode even the greatest of monuments.

My story isn’t one you hear often when thinking about the concept of prison – but its more common than you may think. Not once have I ever taken my incarceration, nor my rehabilitation, lightly. I always took the experience as an opportunity to grow and change my life around. From the onset of jail, before reaching prison, I worked tirelessly to build practice in meditation and spiritual strength, and gain purpose behind my life. Not once have I ever denied myself the responsibility of my own actions or felt as if I didn’t deserve to be in here. I chose books instead of card games, I chose to watch news programs instead of entertainment. At times, I even accepted that I wasn’t ready to return to society just yet. I used to say to myself, “even if they came to let me out today, I wouldn’t be ready.”

I’ve faced challenges along the way, as I haven’t always made the right choices. But still, I kept my head above the fray and the thick air of desperation and destitution that fills the penitentiary from wall-to-wall. I can recall great moments of inspiration, where I was more than ready to face the world with new eyes and put forth my newfound perspective toward the mission of making a better tomorrow… these moments began in the year of 2012, 4 years into my 20-year prison sentence.

I have never once sought my rehabilitation with the motive of early release. I’ve undertook every means of my own rehabilitation, purely because I would inevitably be released and finally got serious about my own life. Still, I continue to maintain the vision of a new day of freedom for me and to maintain a version of a future in my heart where I can use my past to help guide others with the guidance I needed as a child. I just figured the leadership finally recognized people like me when they passed the expanded earned sentence credits in 2020.

Maybe that’s why it hurts me so much to hear that people don’t believe I deserve a chance at earning an earlier release date. I’ve put faith in the system – even when it was hard to – and even when it imprisoned me. I sought to understand it, and in return, it has not reciprocated the same sentiment. The system has not sought to understand me as a person; to understand that against the odds of incarceration, I’ve still maintained my hope and faith in society regardless of what it has done to me.

Yes, I had to come to prison to find myself, but I am absolutely sure that I don’t have to STAY in prison to keep it. As a matter of fact, I feel a tiny piece of my spirit gets chipped away every time I hear another person has overdosed, or got into a fight, or stabbed. Every time, I lose a little more faith in the system, another fragment of my vision of a new day…

I know WAS a misguided young man, and in the process of being so, I may have caused harm to some people over a decade ago. I’m not making excuses and not saying that the pain of the people I hurt was not important. What I am saying is, I’m a new person, and I deserve a chance at being proactive with my change and begin to make amends sooner than later. The person I am now will NEVER revert to crime. The person I am now, at 34 years-old, understands his own potential: an understanding that isn’t afforded to a lot of poor, black youth.

I ask state leaders to not disregard my efforts, or others like me with a self-imposed rehabilitation and personal growth, by saying it is unworthy of actual redemption in the form of an earlier release date. When you disregard us, now it is YOU who are working against a greater version of what we are today.

-Q. Patterson, Brilliance Behind Bars Creator