Re-Slaving America (Make America Great Again!?)

It’s a horrible sign that the country of America might actually be going backwards– towards the wrong direction… was this what was meant by the 2016 dog whistle calls to ” Make America Great Again”…?

Five states, here in America, are putting a rather interesting bill on their ballots this midterm election season… Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oregon, and Vermont are all trying to reintroduce “forced labor” back into the American penal system. This situation makes this month’s Brilliance writing prompt somewhat prophetic…

“Am I incarcerated for profit?” (Brilliance writing prompt for October 2022) detailed the very gruesome history of the many insidious ways the powers of this country have exploited the American justice system and configured it into a racist pitfall (a “black hole”). All of this, in an effort to re-enslave black people, subjugate American minorities, and further the seemingly impenetrable grip racism has on this country…

Maybe the powers are going to decided to use the cover of a poor post-covid economy to bolster the need for slavery in prisons? They’ve already put forth the footwork for the past four years and successfully weaponized a fringe base of poor, white people, armed and even ready to storm the capital — maybe in hopes of taking the country “back” to “make it great again?” It is easy to accept the state of the economy as broken or unfit by those privileged but in poverty. But to those who have aligned such privilege with financial success and are now in want more, pointing them in the directions of the prison system as a means for their salvation is a welcomed fix.

Maybe the minimal headway made on social justice reforms leaves most with an unmerited sense of self satisfaction? So much that they aren’t even the least dissuaded to publicly disregard the mental wellness of Black Americans by resurrecting their most critical of traumas.

I hate that the connotation of capitalism can be justifiably understood to mean: at times we sacrifice long term mental anguish in hopes of short term monetary gains. and in a democracy like ours, this expense tends to always fall on the minority.

Why is forced labor in prisons an issue of race?

Well regardless of what our leaders are touting as true social justice reforms, the dramatic disparities in incarceration rates are still very well alive and thriving. the emphasis on racial justice, these past two years, has barely put a scratch on the issue of unfair treatment between minorities and the penal system. Black Americans still greatly outpace white ones in America’s prison population. And as described in the latest Brilliance prompt, the current state we are foregoing in this country concerning Black Americans and prison was deliberate in its design.

Given the recent events taking place within the Alabama prison system– where the incarcerated there are demonstrating a work stoppage in protest of inhumane living conditions and unfair treatment by the Alabama justice system, the fact that Alabama is amongst the states considering forced labor is nothing other than a symbol of its stern unwillingness to consider to the pleas of its prisoners. A bold statement that power is in no need of a heart nor soul. It only needs lives to stand over…

My hopes are that these aversive proposals to enslave prisoners do not go further than just racist propaganda, designed to motivate alt-right fringe voters to the polls.

If this horrible, racist. vision does manage to make it to fruition, my hope then is that the human soul that will forever fight for equality and justice, beats loudly throughout all the hearts of the oppressed and imprisoned, and that of all of their allies, and stands in opposition of such travesty…

Continue to fight for righteousness, because it is not freely given. We are all the children of freedom and it is our birthright to be free…

Love, peace, and power,

Q. Patterson

The Justice System’s Antiquated

The fact that the United States still operates under post civil war era criminal justice standards is plain wrong! Governments need frameworks to establish beginnings. Not saying the way of our founder’s frameworks were the right path to take, but frameworks are needed to build period. Once the initial building is over certain things need to change (amended) or be removed to better society or just to be morally sound. Again, in this essay’s case, the justice system’s correctional approach is antiquaaaaaaaaaadaaaaaaaaaaated in our modern society, which many people have fought and died so hard to change.

One of the essay questions that i personally would like to elaborate on is question #3: How can the prison system be use to better our community?

Well, my personal opinion is that I feel the number of correctional facilities should be reduced and the closed facilities should be remodeled into immigrant/disaster relief facilities where people in need have shelter, clean water, laundry, dinning areas and grounds for medical attention. The federal government could easily funnel some of it’s money used to incarcerate the population to aide others in more immediate need. While at the same time, create jobs for the economy that current inmates could be employed that would better the economy by being paid more, therefore, taxed more. This was one of the ides I had on this year’s fall essay. Thank you for the time that you took to read this and I hope that it may take root.

Shout out to the crew behind Brilliancebehindbars.com.
Keep up the work!

J. Reinard, LVCC

WHAT DOES CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM LOOK LIKE?

by Lord Serious

On September 26, 2022 Senator Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Irene Shin paid a visit to a group of prisoners at Lawrenceville Correctional Center. After introducing myself and thanking the distinguished guest for visiting us at the prison, I asked them what were their visions for prison reform and criminal justice reform. They each spoke of their record and the various bills they have sponsored and fought to get passed. I’d like to thank Q. Patterson and Sistas In Prison Reform (S.I.P) for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the group who were chosen to attend this meeting. Below is a draft of some of the speaking points I wrote to prepare for the meeting:

First, we offenders request that you amend Code 15.2-1636.7 to prohibit the Compensation Board from continuing to use the formula suggested by Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys. This prosecutorial interest group has suggested a formula that incentives Commonwealths Attorneys offices to seek felony convictions for funding, and it deters prosecutors from using alternative methods to secure just and fair results.

This formula contributes to the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. It encourages prosecutors to seek felony charges over misdemeanors, and it deters them from recommending diversion programs, even in cases where a misdemeanor or diversion program will result in a more just result without jeopardizing public safety. Furthermore, the formula fails to factor in the socioeconomic factors that also influence crime. All of this results in a biased criminal justice system that encourages its prosecutors to over charge and excessively sentence minorities so that their office will receive more funding.

Once this formula has been replaced with a method that will eradicate the bias and exploitative nature of the Criminal justice system. Many of your funding issues will be solved when it comes to the Department of Corrections, because prosecutors will be less inclined to charge every criminal defendant they possibly can with a felony and sentence them to prison. Those who can remain in the community without jeopardizing public safety will receive an adequate punishment without ever having to step foot in a prison, thus they will be less of a burden on the Virginia tax payer.

Next, we request that you amend Code 9.1-601 Citizen Review Panels. We ask that you expand their oversight abilities beyond the police department. We request that their oversight authority be amended to include the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Offices and the Probation and Parole Office.

It is our position that a lot of the socioeconomic bias that infects the criminal justice system goes beyond just police brutality. The entire system neither values nor does it respect the Black and Brown life, especially when they are from impoverished communities. Therefore, we ask that municipalities be given the authority to establish Community Review Panels that will maintain the checks and balances and make these two critical departments accountable to the communities they serve.

The Community Review Panel should be allowed to play a role in determining whether Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Offices are dealing too harshly with the citizens in their community. It’s easy for an office of predominantly White people to send young Black and Brown men to prison for multiple decades for their first felony offense. But the very communities that we’re committing our crimes in do not always agree that a lengthy prison sentence is an appropriate punishment, and the voice of the community should have some influence in these matters before trial. Community Review Panels should be granted the authority to recommend eligible cases for diversion programs when appropriate.

The Community Review Panel should also be granted authority to review the practices of the probation and parole offices for biases and abuses of power. Ex-offenders on probation and parole have no right to an attorney for a revocation hearing and neither can they appeal the decision if their parole has been revoked. This leaves ex-offenders at the mercy of the probation and parole office and they are powerless to prevent abuses of power. Therefore, Community Review Panels should also be granted oversight authority to protect returning citizens from bias probation or parole officers.

And lastly, we would like you to pass a law to make financial literacy a requirement for our rehabilitation. The Uniform Crime Report data shows that poverty is a major contributor to crime. In fact, that report list economic conditions and employment availability as the #3 influencer to crime in the Commonwealth, eclipsed only by population density and population stability which were #1 and #2 respectively.

Legislators in Virginia recognize that having access to more financial resources can help prevent recidivism. This is why the law was passed that now requires us to save $1,000 in our hold account. Obviously, legislators realized that Virginia offenders were not doing a good enough job with saving their money and many were being released with only the $25 they gave you for the bus ticket and the lack of financial stability is what was leading many to re-offend. Unfortunately, with inflation steadily increasing that $1,000 will have less impact by the time many of us are released.

So that $1,000 is not enough. If you distinguished guest are serious about prison reform and preventing recidivism then the nature of the Department of Corrections will have to change course, it must turn away from it’s past when it was a system that used mass incarceration as a profitable economic model. This economic model has failed and your budget issues and the statistics all show that mass incarceration is an unnecessary burden on the tax payer and it has never increased public safety.

-Lord Serious, September 2022

Am I Imprisoned for Profit?

Editor’s Note: Quadaire has been on a long lockdown for the past few weeks, and spent some time researching the deep roots of mass incarceration. He wanted to share the facts he learned and engage the incarcerated population in Virginia.

Since its conception, America has benefit from free labor and the industry of slavery. Slavery has long been abolished, but the clause of ‘supporting it in cases of punishment for a crime’ has been continuously exploited by corporations and politicians. This has lead to the modern day social crisis of mass incarceration and the lucrative enterprise of the prion industrial complex.

Post-civil war, disgruntled Southern lawmakers sought to evade the parameters laid out by the Reconstruction Amendments (Amendments XIII, XIV, and XV). They used the exception marked out in the 13th amendment that legalized slavery in case of punishment for a crime as the basis for achieving their goal. Incarcerating former slaves disqualified their newfound citizenship, nullified their voting rights, and returned them to chains and involuntary servitude. These Southern lawmakers legislated numerous laws and policies such as “Race Codes,” “Black Codes” and many more targeting former slaves for incarceration. White Southerners effectively weaponized the law to enlist America’s Criminal Justice System as a device to perpetuate slavery under other names.

One of these reimagined forms of slavery mirrored a pre-civil war program used in Louisiana, known as “convict leasing.” Incarcerated prisoners were leased to private companies and plantations as laborers. Ironically, these programs were often many more times dangerous than slavery conditions prior. Private companies held no direct investments when it came to their leased laborers. Unlike former slave owners who stood to lose money if the slaves were to get horribly sick or die, private companies with leased convicts were less dissuaded to put them in very unsafe and hostile environments. Convicts were more harshly abused, and in many cases, company task masters would drive them to their deaths. Since the convict leasing program was facilitated through contracts between the prison and the employer, when a laborer died, the prison would simply replace them to meet their contractural obligations and business resumed as usual.

Convict leasing took numerous lives before it was outlawed. Eventually, the program was replaced by ‘correctional enterprises’ — state-owned companies that used prisoner’s forced labor. Correctional enterprises used prisoner labor to manufacture a number of products ranging from eye glasses, shoes, and state license plates. Correctional enterprises are still widely used today. While they gross multi-million dollars a year, their workers, incarcerated peoples, average to earn about $1 per day to take care of themselves and in many cases, their families.

The prison industrial complex has thus evolved. Today, the highest grossing business fueled by the incarceration of Americans is that of the private prison sector. Private prison corporations gross multi-billion dollars a year. The business arrangement set between these corporations who provide incarceration services to the governmental agencies that employ them is a simple one: Incarcerated service providers supply bed space to state and federal agencies and must meet a quote of occupants in order to satisfy their contracted obligations. The most sinister part of this dynamic is the corporations that provide private prisons are publicly traded on the stock market. Thus, anyone and everyone, even law enforcement officers can profit from an increase in the incarceration rate.

One more interesting concept to identify in the scheme of prison for profit is a little more subtle than others. In 1994, 10 years after the first installation of a private prison, the Clinton Administration enacted the Crime Act. This piece of legislation awarded incentives to the states who get more severe on crime. The Crime Act inadvertently encouraged systemic racism with monetary gain and further the profit-for-prison dynamic.

In a perfect world, we can see the logic in society profiting from anti-social acts such as crime. But in America, our racist past infects our criminal justice system to its core. Post-Civil War and Jim Crow politicians have taken advantage of that notion from the onset of the Emancipation Proclamation. Segregationist politicians worked hard to frame the tactics of the civil rights movement as ‘crime running rapid in the streets’ and spawned “tough-on-crime” politics that still serve as the breeding ground for dog whistle politics today. (as defined in Rethinking Incarceration, as racial legislation ensconced within coded rhetoric about the common good)

Never forget that the American justice system is built on principles of the slave trade, monetary gain at the cost of human lives. Everything from the low cost, low quality food being served in prison mess halls, the highly marked up nearly expired food products being pushed through commissary, excessive price tags on essentially free services such as emails, all combined with state-sponsored monetary incentives for persecuting felony charges, keeping an ample incarceration rate, and cutting corners on a bare essentials are all aimed at profiting of human lives…

All of this takes place under the guise of sound economical principles, public safety, and justice for victims, but just as slavery was regarded as a noble conquest in the eyes of many Americans, profiting from the misfortune of already poor, disparaged people is nothing more than vile, life-costing capitalism.

Quadaire Patterson

Thought Starter Questions for the Incarcerated:

Write your own essay, poem, or submit art relative to this topic. Do not forget to include your name and any contact information for any readers who may be able to offer you some assistance.

  1. Do you believe it is possible to overcome hundreds of years of slave trade mentality in America and your lifetime?
  2. Crime must be addressed in order to have a functional and productive society. How can society better use the prison system to work for those incarcerated and the general public?
  3. How can the prison system be used to serve communities?
  4. Do you believe that mass incarceration is racially motivated due to the past? Why or why not?
  5. Do you believe America can survive without the use of slavery in one form or another?

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

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: 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

What’s Free, Part 2

by Lord Serious

What does freedom mean to you? Freedom is commonly defined as being free from restraint or bondage. There will be some who will read this, who think to be free simply means “you are not in jail or prison.” Then there are others who are currently in prison, or who’ve spent time in confinement, who view it a little differently. After serving time as a prisoner under physical restraint and bondage, you may tend to look at what it means to be ‘free’ from totally different perspective.

When you no longer have the freedom to come and go as you please, you quickly realize that the worst thing about being incarcerated is not the physical bondage; it’s the mental chains that weigh you down the most. Being trapped in your own head, reliving past traumatic events, imaging endless scenarios about how your life would’ve turned out differently if you had only made different decisions. The stress and tortured inflicted by the what ifs, the I should’ve – could’ve – would’ves, and the unbearable pain of heartache you feel after losing a loved one who you never got to say goodbye to, or a love interest to another man who can fulfill her physical needs. All of the above cause pain that teach the physical prisoner that it is the mental chains that he must first liberate himself from in order to endure and survive prison.

But you see the problem with these two perspectives is that they are too narrow. What freedom is, or isn’t in the above-mentioned context can only be explained through its relation to prison.

What about the restraints society imposes upon the public? Do these encroach upon our freedom? Do the laws and social norms impede our ability to fully express ourselves? Are we somehow less free in a society with man made laws that place restrictions on our behavior? What about the laws of nature? Can you be truly free if you are unwillingly bound to obey the physical laws of the universe?

What about financial freedom? Why must we borrow and accrue debt just to live a lifestyle beyond our means? Why must I pay back what I borrow, especially when the creditor adds interest? In a truly free society, wouldn’t food, clothing, and shelter be free?

What is sexual freedom and should society place limitations on it? Should people have the sexual freedom to explore all our their urges whenever they choose? Should same sex marriages be lawful in a free society? Should the society determine gender roles, or are we free from making a choice because these roles have already been predetermined by nature? Are we bound to the gender of our genitals or do we have the freedom to change it whenever we please? Now, do not think I am advocating any of the above-mentioned behavior. This is simply an impartial analysis of the broader implications for what is, or what isn’t freedom?

These are some complicated and controversial personal and societal issues. But the central theme to them all is what’s freedom? These are controversial issues because they put individual freedoms into direct conflict with societal norms. It is the duty of society to act in the best interest of the majority? But many times these societal norms oppose our freedom to pursue our own individual self interest. So how do you find a balance between individual freedoms and group freedoms? How do you reconcile their differences when they take opposing sides? And who decides who’s right and who’s wrong when everyone has their own opinion?

So when you ask me what’s free? My answer is simply I don’t know. I haven’t the slightest clue what freedom is, because I have never fully experienced freedom on an individual level, nor have I experienced it on a group level. Freedom has eluded me my whole life. In fact, I spent my entire life living in a society that had laws and social norms that I played no role in deciding, yet, I had to conform to them. Sometimes I did, but a lot of times I didn’t. But these social norms are used to control the behavior of those who live within the society. Certain social deviances are frowned upon but they are accepted, but there are also categories of social deviances that this society has criminalized. As a result of my social deviance from societal norms, I was sent to prison. So as an individual, I have never been free. I have always had to live by someone else’s rules.

However, on a group level, the native Black person living in America is the most over-regulated and controlled group in this country. The societal norms of this society has literally passed laws that explicitly stated that it is illegal to be Black in America. As societal norms changed, these laws were rewritten in a race neutral language that permitted the racist spirit of the law to still be enforced. So is it really any surprise that in less than 200 years after the abolition of slavery, my group would suffer from the mass incarceration of our people all over again? Or that we would still be fighting for the freedom to cast Black ballots in free and fair elections?

What’s free? What will it take for my people to be free from racism? What will it take for the world to be free from White supremacy? I think it takes a virtuous freedom. A freedom where Black people willingly sacrifice some of their individual freedoms for the greater good of our race. Only once we achieve this unified freedom will our group gain the freedom to exercise self determination as a people. Only then will our group gain the freedom to compete against White supremacy, and only then will it be destroyed. Only after White supremacy has been destroyed, will we as individuals have the freedom to enjoy and express our melanin without fear of repercussions.

To learn more about me visit my website http://www.lordseriousspeaks.com.

An Earned ‘Second Look’

Right now, as an incarcerated person in Virginia, I do not have a lot of options when it comes to obtaining any form of relief from a lengthy prison sentence – and it’s definitely not based on my own willingness to rehabilitate. For years and years, incarcerated people are housed with little to motivate them into productive and meaningful rehabilitation. We are asked to merely sit quietly and wait until the time is served and there is little emphasis on correcting behaviors. We are asked to maintain employment for a majority of our time, stay charge-free, and it is not until the final years of our sentence, that we are instructed or able to take re-entry programs and the like. Still, there are many of us in here that need that extra bit of motivation, reason, and cause to push us. There are many of us who have taken measures to earn the opportunity for a second look.

This year in Virginia, there is a bill on the table to implement a policy called ‘second look.’ This would allow for the incarcerated population to petition the convicting court for possible resentencing based on who they are today.

Knowing there’s over 30,000 people in the Virginia Department of Corrections’ custody, a petitioner must meet requirements before they can submit. A person who was 25 years of age or younger at time of conviction is required to serve at least 10 years of their sentence, while those over the age of 25 must at least 15 years. The structuring of the age requirement is based on scientific findings concerning full brain development and aging out of crime.

The second, and more controversial element of this bill, is about maintaining a near perfect record for your past 5 years of incarceration. It states in the bill that an incarcerated individual cannot have been found guilty of any major institutional infractions (100 series, e.g. assaulting an officer), and only one minor infraction (200 series, e.g. unauthorized area) within 5 years prior to petitioning. You must also be at GCA (good behavior) level 1 at the time of application. This is the cause of some criminal justice advocates’ concerns. They believe that the behavioral requirements are too strict, unreasonable, and even near impossible to achieve by most prisoners.

My personal thought on the matter is that it is a little shameful for advocates on the outside to assume, that given the opportunity, we, on the inside, could not possibly maintain a charge free status for 5 years – EVEN IF OUR FREEDOM DEPENDED ON IT.

Many of the arguments provided by advocates suggest that corrupt correctional officers and staff will take ample opportunity to excessively charge prisoners, solely to ruin their chance at petitioning. Though their arguments cannot completely be disregarded, I find it rather negligent to attribute that much weight to supervision only. I have experienced COs and staff members who do not always have the best intentions and fall short of standards that should be expected of professionals in charge of human lives. But to the contrary, these individuals are far and few in between. They are probably as common as the overly obnoxious boss, supervisor, co-worker, etc. that you may experience on the outside. Plus, there are many avenues currently in place to address grievances of prisoners who deal with potentially corrupt staff members and officers.

I, myself, understand how hard it is to maintain a perfect behavioral record in prison. Early in my incarceration, I managed to receive numerous charges. Most of which, were not minor infractions. But I also understand that a “second look” law did not exist for me then. There was not much to help focus and motivate a better pattern of behavior. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way. After seeing my life heading in an unwanted direction, I had to take charge of my own rehabilitation.

When I first entered the prison system, I didn’t have a high school diploma. Not only have I acquired my GED, I’ve also been working hard to fulfill my college-level education goals. Currently, I’m taking print-based correspondence courses at Ohio University. I’m working to obtain an associate degree in social sciences. I have been mentoring young men for over 10 years, helping them find their own spiritual journeys, tutoring various subjects, and motivating them to seek higher education. For years, I brainstormed this very platform to help showcase the brilliance of people incarcerated and was given an opportunity to bring Brilliance Behind Bars to fruition, going strong for 2 years.

People grow, people change, and people can be rehabilitated, even when the odds are against them, and rules seem petty. I see this bill as an opportunity to push people in the right direction, make for more public safety in and out of the prison walls, and bring us some hope for a brighter future.

Quadaire Patterson has been in prison in Virginia for over 13 years – since 2008. He was 20 years old, caught up with the wrong people at the wrong time and ended up with an extreme 20-year sentence for robbery/use of a firearm; when he didn’t take anything or have a weapon.

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.