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

My view of ‘what’s free’ is the choice that each and every one of us have to receive all that life has to offer, or to be closed off from what we call blessings. Sometimes it’s real easy to get caught up in our present circumstances and to forget that if you just let go of all of the emotions and the mindset that is suppressing your truest abilities and causing you to feel as though you must suffer all of the time, nothing could hold you back.

I believe that anyone who decides that they will no longer allow anything to imprison them within their minds, is free in every sense of the word. This is my deepest conviction of what it is to be free. Thank you for the opportunity to express these thoughts, and for listening.

Shaveek Pittman, Virginia #1870834

What’s Free?: Writing Prompt For the Incarcerated

Following the ‘What’s Free‘ essay exploring freedom, we’d like to invite the incarcerated community to explore their own definitions of freedom.

“The 2020 Virginia General Assembly has ended….and the outcome has dejected many of incarcerated peoples who were seeking some relief from extensive captivities…

The biggest hope was HB 1532, a bill that was set to change the world of Virginia men and women circulating the VADOC system, adding more good time than the current 15%. A lot of the incarcerated population and our caring families set their hearts on a comprehensive plan that would grant earning captive citizens some relief from their imprisonment. It also had a decent turnout of the public in support. To the disappointment of many, the bill was continued to 2021 due to the fact that the patron, Delegate Scott hoped it could to be more inclusive next year.

The fact of the matter is: the current good time mechanisms set in place to ‘help encourage’ Virginia’s incarcerated peoples, continue to brand Virginia as a state more in favor of human warehousing, than rehabilitating its’ citizens most in need of the system’s help… and not the system’s wrath.

But let’s imagine the alternative future… if Virginia’s HB1532 had passed…

What then? The doors open up for few faster than most. “Free” to roam as they please – but all are still bounded by tremendous amounts of suspended sentences looming overhead, stigmas, outdated legislation needlessly restricting ‘ex-felon’s’ career choices, and restrictions of rights that keep reentering citizens from being able to fully partake in the processes that establish citizens as functional participants in society. Not to mention, the lapse in life development due to lengthy imprisonment…

It begs the question: “What’s free?”

We are incarcerated, but we don’t have to be imprisoned. Freedom is initially a state of mind. One must be free in mind first in order to obtain true, substantial freedom, physically. For those who wish to change their trajectory and stake in life, they first must be free to do so. Though they control the cell doors and gates, they do not control your mind.

What do we do to obtain true freedom? Free in mind, free physically, and free financially. Freedom will not be willfully be given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed (Martin Luther King Jr.). What plans do we have to obtain, secure, and maintain our freedom?

Write an essay defining for the readers your definition of freedom. If you would like, describe a plan following your release for obtaining, securing, and maintaining your form of freedom.

Don’t forget to include what you want readers to know about you…”

– Quadaire Patterson, Creator, Organizer, Writer VADOC #1392272,

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know wants to write on this prompt this month and be featured on, send an email to 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. 🙂

‘What’s Free?’ Introduction

In the state of Virginia this year, there was a justice reform bill that drew the attention of every eye within the incarcerated community (this community includes family members of incarcerated people.)

HB 1532 was a bill that was set to change the world of Virginia men and women circulating the VADOC system. The bill was set to upgrade an already in-use system of earning “good time,” which in its current state allows inmates with a flawless conduct record to earn up to 15% off of their sentence. For example, an inmate can be given a sentence of 20 years. If they remain flawless in conduct for an entire 17 years, they would find themselves released. No real incentive placed on unrealistic standards – disparaging and illusionary. Under the introduced bill, if an inmate maintained flawless conduct (and mind you, this is no easy task by far), they would receive up to 50% (give or take 5 years) of their time reduced. Hence, tangible incentives to encourage good behavior and rehabilitation… giving some realism to the standard put forth…

The bill eventually – after several committees mulled over it – applied amendments relegating its effectiveness to non-violent offenders (which make up a very small portion of the ones who need it), and pushed its date of effectiveness back to 2021. The patron, Delegate Scott, elected out of Portsmouth, has opted to push the bill in hopes of finalizing a more inclusive clause…

I had predicted for a time before the conclusion of Virginia’s 2020 election season, that the House wouldn’t just ‘flip the jailhouse over’ and empty convicted criminals into the streets. Irresponsible, along side political suicide. I know in these confusing times, it’s unclear whether they go hand and hand anymore.

The idea of being released early was met by the majority of my community with joy. I did not share in the same elations as my community members. I took in that idea with much needed perspective. Knowing that since I came into the final stretch of my sentence, it’s all been about planning. Planning not only to be released – no, that’s not even a fraction of the struggle for me or most in here – and not only to survive; but to thrive in a world that’s unfamiliar. The thought of early release becomes synonymous with thoughts of being unprepared… and the question… what is free?

I started with the definition of release – to be free from restraint, confinement, or servitude…

How many of us questioned freedom outside of being physically imprisoned? A lot of the thinkers inside have attacked the concept of freedom philosophical. But I don’t believe the core of freedom resides solely at the footstep of the mental. I warn against my fellow incarcerated people to disregard what we have already blatantly ignored. The station of the law fails to return a standard form of freedom to those who have been convicted of a crime, resulting in a virtual life sentence.

‘Ex-felons’ are subject to restrictions that accompany them long after their prescribed sentence. nullifying a lot of any possible knowledge they may have acquired over their decade long stints. For example, many of us incarcerated were oblivious to legal process, being that a lot of us didn’t make it to government courses. Nor were many of us properly introduced to ideas or proper outlets to help us define ourselves to ourselves, outside of the deplorable environments which we were raised and ventured.

I plan to help change that by bringing awareness to the political obstacles that impede an incarcerated person reacclimating into society.

Together, we can help better restore the standard of freedom amongst ALL members of society…

– Quadaire Patterson, VADOC #1392272, From Virginia Beach, VA

Editor’s Note: In March, we will be approaching the topic of freedom, amongst those imprisoned. For more, visit: ‘What’s Free?’ To read the prompt shared with those who are writing, check out this post. Thank you as always, for your support.


“You can jail the revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution.” – Huey P. Newton

It’s a scientific fact that energy cannot be destroyed. It only transfers or transforms… Pertaining to the quote above, the body of a revolutionary can be contained, but the spirit of the revolution can not be bound.

Today, the spirit of the revolution is as pervasive as ever. While countless bodies are confined to prisons, the spirit of freedom is leading the movement against mass incarceration in the land of the free. In this sense, the flames of the revolution are only stoked as more bodies of men and women find themselves on the darker side of social disparity.

The revolutionary of ‘then’ are the freedom fighters of now. Prevalent and pervasive the spirit of the revolution is uncaged. Now, more of the American people are imbued with this spirit, and the revolution has taken on a form better fit for a nation centered on the virtue of freedom. Long live the revolution… long live freedom.

– Quadaire Patterson, VADOC #1392272, From Virginia Beach, VA


“You, Hannibal, know how to win battles. But you do not know how to use your victories.” – Maharbal, Numidian Cavalryman Commander

The above quote is a portion of a conversation help between Hannibal, the Supreme Commander of Carthaginian Army and the captain of his Numidian Calvary. Hannibal has just handed the Romans their most devastating defeat at the Battle of Cannae and Maharbal was eager to ride ahead to the gates of Rome. But instead, Hannibal chose to enjoy the moment and celebrate his victory. Nevertheless, this African general was a military genius and one of the world’s greatest military leaders. In fact, the strategies he used during his 16 year war with Rome are currently being studied by military cadets in academies all over the world.

This battle was fought in Cannae, Italy in the summer of 216 B.C. However, it is still a relevant piece of black history today. Because like Hannibal, Black people in America have also won many battles. We have won battles against slavery and segregation. We have won battles for civil rights, voting rights, and even the battle to get Barack Obama into the White House. Yet, today, black men are still disproportionally living in handcuffs and chains. Black women are still overworked and underpaid. Black children are still receiving sub-standard educations when compared to their white counterparts. Regardless of how many battles we won, every black generation after Hannibal has lost the war – simply because we have yet to learn how to use our victories.

– Lord Serious Hakim Allah / J. Boughton Jr., Chesapeake, VA #1404741

Author of “Apotheosis Lord Serious Hakim Allah’s Habeas Corpus Appeal” and “The Powerless Pinky” both are available on You can email him at:


“As you shouldn’t expect another man to give you the clothing that you need to cover your own body, so you should not expect another race to give you the education to challenge their right to monopoly and mastery; to take for yourself that which they also want for themselves… if he will rob you of your wages, he will also rob you of your education that would enable you to know that he is robbing you of your wages.” – Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey was the founder of United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) which was he larger black movement in modern history. Marcus Garvey taught black nationalism and black independence from our enslavers and colonizers. He recognized that the white power structures secret to success was its ability to keep blacks all over the world trapped in a state of dependency – economically, politically, socially, intellectually, and spiritually. Marcus Garvey taught that blacks would never truly be free until we first establishes our own educational institutions.

This quote remains relevant today because the school-to-prison pipeline is a tool currently being used by this same system to suffocate our children’s thirst for knowledge by keeping them out of classrooms and pushing them into prison cells. In my book, Apotheosis Lord Serious Hakim Allah’s Habeas Corpus Appeal, I have an entire chapter dedicated to solving this problem plaguing the black community. I give a history analysis on how this system uses the financial hardships of their households, and our community’s lack of economic opportunity for them, to create the perfect storm for impoverished black youth. To solve this problem, my book offers practical solutions such as building our own charter schools and private schools. This is the only way to ensure that our children receive a quality education that addresses their needs – and that those who are teaching them will inspire black youth to unlock their hidden potential.

– Lord Serious Hakim Allah / J. Boughton Jr., #1404741, From Chesapeake, VA