An interview with Free Minds member Antwan, by Zoe, Free Minds Intern. This interview was originally published in Volume 11, Issue 2 of the Free Minds Connect.
Antwan: I always played football and had a passion for football. Always. Even throughout my incarceration, I played football. So, when I came home I had a son who was seven at the time when I came home. We tried basketball, but he wasn’t too big at basketball. We gave football a try. We went to the field and saw a lot of other little kids playing with the school. When I picked him up from school I saw them there. So my son joined the team. My son would have bad moments at practice, but whenever I was there he had an excellent practice. So I started to stay on the field more and more. A lot of the other kids would adapt to how I was coaching my son. So I started to coach them too. After one season, all of the parents wanted me to be the head coach. So, I became the head coach.
Free Minds member JoJo was arrested at the age of 16 and served five years. He was released in 2015. He is the Co-founder of #WeFitDC, a company dedicated to closing the health and wellness gap in the District, and shining light on native DMV wellness professionals. He is currently a fellow at the Georgetown Pivot Program, a one-year business and entrepreneurship program created specifically for formerly incarcerated individuals at the Georgetown University School of Business. Recently, Kelli sat down for a conversation with JoJo about his life and his life’s work.
Free Minds member Carlos served 25 years of a 35 years-to-life sentence. In 2020, he was resentenced under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA). Because he was not a US citizen though, rather than returning home to DC, he was deported to his native country—a place he hadn’t seen in 33 years! Kelli caught up with Carlos over Zoom to talk about his experience.
For most seniors, graduation and prom are some of the most stressful moments of a high school career, but for Jordan, it was making a call to a disappointed mother from DC Jail. At just 17 years old, he found himself in a jail cell facing time for a criminal offense—one of his first, ever.…
Interview by Kelli Taylor I love cooking! I really do! I enjoy putting the plate together, being creative with it, knowing that somebody I don’t know from a can of paint ‘bout to enjoy this meal I’m putting together. That in itself is just heartwarming. Especially when the rush come and you got a rack…
If you had asked me what I wanted out of life when I was 16, I would have just shrugged my shoulders at you. I wouldn’t have had any answers to questions about my future. I didn’t have dreams. – Nick, age 27
Varvie was just shy of his 18th birthday when he was arrested, charged and convicted as an adult. He spent the next 11 ½ years in federal prisons across the country. Upon his release, Varvie, now 29, was determined to prove to himself and his loved ones that he had changed and was now a…
Malik was not surprised to find himself charged and incarcerated as an adult at the DC Jail when he was just 16 years old. “I knew by the choices I was making where I was going to end up,” he says. “I had already been locked up in juvenile facilities 13 different times by then.”
“Being a better man makes me a better father…I don’t want to let him down. I want to show him what I think a father is—someone who you can trust, someone who is there for you. I’m always going to be there.”
“From then on, whenever the cell doors closed for the night, I’d start writing. And the crazy thing was, I was in jail, but when I was writing, I felt safer than I ever felt at home.” Find out how you can help here.