Delonte was just 16 years old in 2004 when he was arrested and charged as an adult for robbery. Before his incarceration, Delonte had stopped attending high school on a regular basis. He was raised by his grandmother since his mother and father were not a part of his life. He liked reading and writing, but his classes just didn’t hold his interest. While he was locked up, he was introduced to Free Minds and relished the opportunity to occupy his time with books and creative writing. “Free Minds were friends when I needed them. They sent me books that I liked to read, and taught me how to express myself through poetry.”
“Fifty years from now, I will always remember that Free Minds were the ones there for me when people that were supposed to have cared about me weren’t there.”
“They brought a tall man to my cell!” one Free Minds member told his mother on the phone, so excited he momentarily forgot the name of his visitor. “We talked about poetry.” Already a prolific writer, the youth has been writing even more extensively since his encounter with 6’10’’ NBA Wizards player Etan Thomas.
Nearly 500 people came to downtown Washington, DC to hear the words of incarcerated youth at the 6th Annual Free Minds Poetry Reading. The 6th & I Historic Synagogue was filled almost to capacity with family members, attorneys, judges, writers, artists, business people, schoolchildren, activists, neighbors, and regular DC residents who came to see what all the excitement was about. Read More
Paulo was just 17 years old when he was charged and incarcerated as an adult at the DC Jail.
When he looks back he sees a lost young man with no goals or dreams. “I didn’t think much about my future or my life. I lived day-by-day. I was too preoccupied with hanging out with my friends, stealing and causing problems,” he says now.