Reflect

Thank you for allowing me to express myself, and for the work y’all do.

True change can only come from the person that wants change. We must use this time to reflect on ourselves and take the steps to better ourselves cause if we wait on the DOC to do it, we will be waiting a lifetime. Everyone deserves and needs a second chance, no matter what he or she did. Without it, what does a person have to look forward to?

Our last governor got a second chance to show he isn’t the person in a certain photo, and with that second chance, he showed us the real person he is and who knows how many second chances our new governor has gotten or will get. Second chance legislation is good; no I wouldn’t qualify if it passed right now, but there’s others who will. I got a 35yr sentence and have been in for 25 yrs now and have received 3/100 series charges in that time.

One, I was simply lied on, but as you know, you’re going to get found guilty on what the officer says, and the charges weren’t back to back they were yrs apart. Last one, last yr

The behavioral requirements are to much cause the system is set up for you to fail. If you go 20yrs charge free now, you’re manipulating the system then they trick you up to catch a charge. Things happen in here and some you can ignore, others you can’t. This VADOC isn’t set up to correct or rehabilitate you, cause it offers you nothing to help you in here, or for when you get out. When you do right, they give you no incentive or reward to keep you in the right direction, but when you step outside of their line, they are qiuck to take something from you. They should charge the behavioral requirements, as I don’t think people in vadoc can meet that requirement. At the end of the day, they need to look at who we are now and the things we have done for ourselves to be better citizens in society and to stop judging us from our past. Thank you for your time, and God bless.

– DERRICK EDMONDS

CRT: Second Class Citizens

I greet everyone in the Moorish greeting of Islam! My name is Antoinne Pitt #1157338, housed at Lawrenceville Correctional Center.

The topic of critical race theory should be closely examined in order to over stand the perpetuation of mental slavery. The 13th amendment abolished physical servitude unless punishable for a crime. Minority elites established a highly racist system known as apartheid meaning apartness in which minorities and people of the olive hue were denied political rights. In the days of civilization, the olive hue people were divided amongst classes based on those who were considered to be evolved or civilized based upon religious beliefs, education and economic status and the attainment of this status ensured access to more granted privileges and protection under the legal system per U.S. constitution. Those who were considered uncivilized were those who would not surrender to their religious customs, and beliefs and were classified as 3/5ths of a person. Our olive skin complexion makes us of the same class but economic status and social status creates division within the classes. This social construct of race is a destructive nature that is manipulated by the divide and rule policies of authoritarian regimes.

Our legal system is derived from Civil or Roman law and the belief that men and women are not endowed with the capacity of self governing. All law and authority is therefore derived externally from statuses devised and imposed by rulers whether a pope, king, monarch or government. This system was developed from philosophy and Roman property law in which creation is divided and human beings are treated as chattel and the possessions of others are devoid of inherent liberties. We are thus in every sense enslaved and cut off from the world given freely in common to all. This slave system ranks and categorizes people, and grants restricted freedoms that are defined and limited through statutes issued by the rulers, the ones that institute the laws, in which prison is a institution used to warehouse property, property being the one’s that broke the laws in which the rulers instituted. This is why the prison system is disproportionately black. A system was designed and put in place for people of the olive hue to get caught in it’s entanglement. Law protecets racism because it is said that ignorance is no excuse for the law and black is a state of ignorance. Until we understand law and it’s origin, we will continue to over populate the penal system. What we see today is the result of a so called black race being treated as second class citizens. As long as we are viewed as such, the law will never be for us, but against us, and the United States constitution is the law of the land. Peace.

My conditional pardon was recently denied but the fight for freedom hasn’t and will not stop. Sign my online petition Seeking Justice For Antoinne Pitt and go to www.infinitypublicationsllc.net to see a sypnosis of my curriculum “Thinking With A Purpose,” which is a curriculum created to reduce the rate of recidivism and prevent criminal thinking and influences. Also you can contact my publisher Winter Giovanni the founder of Infinity Publications to learn more about my curriculum C.O.A.T (Countering Overdoses and Addiction Treatment) a curriculum created to prevent and reduce the rate of opioid overdoses. I came in love and leave in peace.

On Second Look: Incarceration is just another word for nothing left to lose.

There is a song by Janis Joplin where she says “FREEDOM is just another word for nothing left to lose.” I thought about those lyrics and what they mean, then I changed the word FREEDOM to INCARCERATION and it speaks to me in an entirely different way. Context is everything … looking at someone or something today with the eyes of yesterday is the best way to stagnate, ignore and even deny progress.

In life, we have the opportunity to Forgive and Learn. Forgiveness comes from the heart of those offended as a part of their healing process and the lesson is learned by the offender thru the penalty received. In terms of incarceration, its not the amount of time imposed but what you do with that time to atone… and once that lesson is learned, the cycle is complete.

“Second Look” in lieu of parole or more sensible good time laws for exorbitant sentences allows for a fresh set of eyes to review and determine if the aforementioned cycle is complete. Most of those in opposition to any significant prison reforms are denying not only those incarcerated, but themselves of the invaluable gift of growth, as well as the ability to learn and forgive. Unfortunately, personal agendas and biases (both implicit and explicit) continue to block the path to real justice in Virginia, so this has to be addressed if one is to reasonably expect anything different.

Telling people that they are irredeemable by using this strictly punitive and archaic sentencing structure (85%, no parole), then releasing them into society anyway after 30, 40 or 50 years of incarceration does society no good… Has it stopped crime? NO! Has it been a deterrent of any kind? NO! It has no benefit other than retribution.

Wasting a human resource out of spite should actually be a crime itself. 26 years of this system and what you have are packed, understaffed prisons – and some of which need drastic renovations or need to be closed down altogether and a state budget nightmare for years to come.

The punishment of incarcerating someone now isn’t just about doing the time imposed on you when you’re sentenced…. its doing so much of it that when you’re released to the world, you have no real time left.

Depending on how this Second Look legislation is structured and implemented, that will determine its success and benefit… whether or not it means that every year after a certain point in a persons sentence they will be evaluated (by unbiased and subjective people, not a computer algorithm) on a scale that is evidence based, or if its only for those like myself incarcerated at 18 years old, now 41, and about to embark on my 24th year of a 45-year sentence – still having another 18 years before my mandatory release date?

This legislation also has to be retroactive and all inclusive (for violent and non-violent) in order to be fair and combat some of the damage done by the 85%, no parole laws. Either way, there is no downside to review someone after a certain point in their incarceration, that’s the humane thing to do… its why parole and good time credits exist (not in Virginia).

However, what I don’t want to see is another mechanism in place that feels its sole function is to just keep people in prison regardless of any proven change in mindset and behavior. That seems to be what the republicans believe the parole board is supposed to do… just rubber stamp NO or DENIED on every review. There is a point that you reach while incarcerated when there is nothing left to do but sit idle while life passes you by… you have completed everything available to you and mandated to you by the state, and then reached beyond that on your own to do more for yourself and your family, but then you sit and lose it all because you still have another 20 or 30 years before your release date. Second look legislation can fix that issue and much more.

Let’s be honest for a minute though: if 60% of Virginia’s prison population were white, WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION, nor would we still begging to fix what any person with a conscious has agreed are bad laws.

Lastly, I keep hearing people falsely claim that change is a process and then use that as an excuse not to do anything to help the so called “process” … Change is NOT a process, its a RESULT! With regards to people… CHANGE is what happens when an individual or a group of individuals are 100% dissatisfied with their current circumstances or conditions.

I could go through and give historical precedence b.u.t. I don’t see the need because if you’re still reading this, you already know I’m right.

Peace!

– Sincere Born Allah, #1131459, Nottoway Correctional Center

Prompt: (Non)/Violent Criminal Justice in Virginia

The fight to dismantle a racist criminal justice system and free disadvantaged minorities from the grip of systemic racism is an uphill battle… Fear is the prime strategy for politicians who favor long term confinement and profitable human warehousing, rather than opting to see the human soul as capable and worthy of rehabilitation. Fear is easiest, because it does not have to be given to anyone. It is primal, and everyone already has it in abundance.

I caught a bit of the Virginia State Senate meet on prison reform and wondered to myself how easy is it to hide the truth of profile-fueled mass incarceration behind the myth of a colorblind justice, and promoting “community safety” as a means of pumping more young black and brown men through the proverbial prison pipeline…

The senators, representing their respective counties, some for numerous terms and spanning decades of elections, stood to give their uninventive political spiel. Lofty, fear-writhed narratives framing Virginia’s prisons full of rapists, murderous lunatics who can’t for Christ’s sake ever be trusted with civil privilege again… That fantasy propagated by our state senate is far from truth… I’ve also come to find that most politicians at the state senate level just so happen to know numerous victims of overtly violent crimes, and no people incarcerated for crimes of any type. I found that concerning… it’s the tell-tell sign of a major disconnect between politicians and so many minorities who are faced with the ‘awesome’ fact of incarceration illy effecting their families and communities.

The senate pleaded for an amendment that extented the good time earning credit to only those incarcerated that have charges falling within the category of “non-violent.” This provision does not meet the cause for which special session was prescribed – reformation for racial and social justice. The simple fact being that most falling under the non-violent criteria happen to be white ‘victims’ of the drug epidemic. Once again, a chance for some correction of the racist system to take place may be manipulated, distorted, and amended to meet the needs of the already privileged.

Though the provisions for “violent offenders” likes to cite murderers, rapists, and other sexual offenders as the centerpiece of its public safety interest, it is an examination of the more ambiguous crimes of desperation that exposes a line-teetering sensible policy making and subtle racist devices of the past still being unknowingly used to disempower and disenfranchise minorities today…

The crime of robbery, majorally effecting downtrodden poor minorities, a crime of desperation, is considered a violent crime whether actual violence occurred as a result of the act or not. A large portion of the prison system is made up of robbery charges… some were accompanied with coinciding charges identifying violence, such as malicious wounding or assault. Others, not so much.

A crime such as robbery is not a result of some mania or perversion of mind in most cases. This crime directly reflects the pressures facing a 1st world society and its social systems failing its most needed citizens. It is economical disparities that create the prototype robber, not some lust for violence. It just happens to be black and brown Americans that make up the lower side of that economical ladder. Black and brown men are no more violent than any other race in this country, therefore there must be some deeper reasoning behind the mass incarceration of these people.

Aided by time and information, the once ago capital of the Confederacy has made strides in the abolishment of racism… But the dismounting of monuments means little if the ideals behind those statues remains in tact and still dictate how minorities are treated in this country today…

Prompt: What do you think about the criminal justice system in Virginia and how they are separating violent and non-violent offenders?

What do people need to know about you that would show them that you are human? Imperfect, but full of limitless potential and capable of astonishing change…

We are accepting different form of expression, (writings, essays, poetry, and art) that highlight the question at hand.

-Q. Patterson, BrillianceBehindBars Creator

Overcoming Race: It all starts with you.

Racism can be over come and by nature is not able to establish the human race. I am not one who experienced much racism openly but have felt many of the after effects of the hatred that stems from racism. As long as people continue to keep the mindset that one race is superior, to another none will be able to reach their highest capacity for growth.

In fact each and every one of us are needed to support each other so that we can become what we truly are, which is ONE race. I truly have hope for changes within the system, that they will improve all of our living conditions but unless these changes touch the hearts of those who have had to endure mistreatment through these growing pains, no real change can be made. It all starts with you.

My name is Shaveek Pittman and I am currently incarcerated at Lawrenceville Correctional Center.

-Shaveek Pittman Contributing Writer | Virginia #1870834

Policing the police: How to make them accountable for overstepping bounds, or acting above the limits of what the law warrants

My thoughts on such are: they’re needed to keep order to a degree, & to keep chaos & anarchy in check. However, not all are bad, but not all are good either. So, the key of the matter is to weed out the bad ones who stain the rest. Those that believe that they’re above the letter of the law – & because they are protected by the badge – that they can do whatever they feel on their whims (disregarding justice). What we are witnessing right now (history in the making), is a change that’s long overdue.

GOD WILLING, we see positive change soon before more unnecessary lives are taken to soon.

I remember my police brutality moment, where I was choked (literally), for not incriminating myself of a situation, & that was after being maced in the face, knocked down to the ground & handcuffed. This was all because I laughed at one of the two officers, dude put his hands around my throat and literally choked me, up to the moment I was about to pass out.

I was fortunate enough that his partner came back to where we were and stopped him (good cop/bad cop). The one who choked me, he does not need to be in a position of an authoritative figure. It’s individuals like this that black the eyes of the rest. To you, cops, you know your colleagues better than we do. You’re aware of who stains what you stand for, and who stands for real justice. Every brother, ain’t really a brother, unless he proves such. So, the way I view such, y’all that claim to stand for right (justice & equality), need to take center stage and do what you swore to do, “TO PROTECT & SERVE” (not your personal agenda, but the community’s agenda).

How many more sacrifices is it going to take for true change to come? Enough is enough. Me, personally, I’m sick & tired, of being sick & tired. It’s getting to that ‘I don’t care’ (attitude) point. Stop killing us! It’s happening so frequently that I’ve lost count. Seems like every other day, another soul is on ice. Change is overdue. Push til you can’t no more (cause/effect), talking is good, but only gets you so far. Action is the vehicle & a means, hopefully to a end. Stay strong & focus my people, if you seek to be equal. My blackness is not a crime! LET ME LIVE!

Sincerely, D. Moyler #1119539, Virginia

Take a Stand for What’s Right

It is a tragedy that many lives have been taken in the same way that George Floyd’s life was taken. In fact, it’s by the very ones who have the responsibility of protecting the lives of everyone in society. This is not an issue that has only occured once or twice, but has happened so often throughout the past, that it has a pattern of resurfacing whenever the time is right. Although these officers are the ones who are to blame for the lives that were taken, we as a society have opened the doors for things like this to happen. I’m not saying that we do not deserve better treatment, but what I am saying is that if we took responsibility for our own well being and the well being of those around us rather than waiting for someone to give us what is rightfully ours anyway, law enforcement would only be used when it was appropriate in situations like the ones we face today… where lives are taken by the authorities for no reason at all, the one who committed the murder would be facing the same punishment any civilian would face for the exact same crimes.

The only thing that I see fit for the times that we live in is that everyone gain their independence. What I mean by this is each and every one of us is in a much better position to carry out justice by educating ourselves and encouraging others. We shouldn’t continue to depend on the same ones who are threatening our livelihood day after day for protection. Everyone who decides to take a stand for what is right, prevents things like this from happening again.

My name is Shaveek Pittman and I am currently behind the walls of LVCC Lawrenceville, Va and I hope that all who read this are encouraged to keep striving for a brighter future.

– Shaveek Pittman

Prompt: ‘Criminal Cop’ Justice Reform

The conceptual lines that formed the basis for the childhood game of cops and robbers has been destroyed.

Though many of us knew of the ambiguity associated with criminals and law enforcement projected in mob movies by the depiction of the crooked cop, and ambiguity through the vicious images of cops’ mistreatment of black lives captured during the civil rights movement, the idea hasn’t been accepted on such a mainstream scale as easily as it has today. That’s with good reason I suppose: law enforcement’s intricate roll in the operation of society. Many would love to maintain the illusion of a perfect system (a perfect cop), rather than accept the fact that the system is finite and many people lose their lives at the present of its inconsistencies. So the back draft of the collective societal thought passes the blame on to the less essential. They will say: “Why are the cops killing black people? They must be doing something wrong…” But the presence of social media, free of expert commentators, leaves no room for harsh realities to be ignore any longer. The truth is becoming clearer – the ones sent to serve and protect have done so, not so much with communities in mind, but serving in the further corruption of their departments and unions, protecting shady cops from prosecution for their crimes of mishandling lives in their charge.

The term ‘criminal justice reform’ has taken on a new skin… in the matter of less than a year. This reform is now focused on the policing of cops… a funny idea if I should say so myself. The administrators of policy and law still have to administer laws, even if they’re new ones, right? That thought itself gives me goosebumps… as I’m not sure exactly how to ‘police’ police better. Honestly, I thought the implementation of the body cams would suffice for effective policing of police, and yet others have lost their lives with mysteriously no body cam footage of the account… only civil bystanders armed with phone mounted cameras, capturing truths that would of otherwise been buried in mounds of disinformation and political jargon – aimed at furthering the decades old agenda of being “tough on crime…”

Writing Prompt Assignment:
What further can we do as a society to make sure that lives like George Floyd’s aren’t taken without healthy fear of prosecution?

Write your experiences with criminal cops. Write your ideas (if any) for changing the way cop are held to the letter of the law. Write between 2-5 paragraphs, if possible.

Make sure you add your name and any other information you might want people to know about you.

– Q. Patterson, Creator, Organizer, Writer, VADOC #1392272

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know (incarcerated or formerly incarcerated) wants to write on this prompt this month and be featured on BrillianceBehindBars.com, send an email to yourlovedoneq@gmail.com with the essay and bio to review, or we can add inmate numbers to our Brilliance Behind Bars JPay to allow them to contact us directly.