Me and Jim Crow

By PJ

Twenty years in ADX.*
I’m asked, a lot, one question:
How long have you been here?
First, let me tell you something I know:
(Feared, is the unknown;) it is the confined person’s ghost.

When I was told: “the short trip,”
I couldn’t wait to get with “it”;
to act a fool.
For two decades, really, I haven’t moved.
It seems: I’m going in circles, but before
you jump to conclusions, understand: basically,
we all (are going in circles). Some big,
some smaller than others; we live by: clocks.
The earth revolves around the sun; I crossed a lot.

Administrative Maximum is a microcosm of society.
All the problems, symptoms, epidemics in our cities
are gathered here (again), interacting.
What wasn’t solved there,
resurfaces here.
It’s an environment where: you’re constantly
fighting insanity.
That, accompanied with: maintaining your safety
and trying to stay alert.

As an African American today,
in the Criminal Justice System, ADX,
has been a way to search: myself.
As many things here, the inside becomes: meshed,
in adaptation with outside forces.
(Weakening, or strengthening, building, or destroying.)
Sometimes what we consider: a curse,
can be: a road (a beginning), a door; our cure.

In the Era of Mass Incarceration,
as an African American,
I feel: very much, like a commodity;
as I come to the realization: (monetarily),
others have “set-up,” (taken liberty),
to map-out what they feel is: my destiny.
(A rightful place) as they gain. From a
long ago, enacted (scheme) to hamper the slave.
As with The United States Penitentiary, ADX, now I know:
(That scheme) has become known
as: Justice, Criminalization, Incarceration, The New Jim Crow.

*ADX refers to a maximum security federal prison. Everyone incarcerated there is held in solitary confinement.

My Story

By TD

Just two months ago my mom passed away
My girl moved on, now I’m feeling like Tom Hanks in Cast Away
Knives was just at my throat and I didn’t fight them
Dudes just robbed me because my shirt not tucked in my boxers and I don’t say, “Slim,” like them
My daughter only 11, sending me pictures with her hand on her hip
My son just turned 13, thinking about a hand on a clip
But don’t get me wrong, my baby mama a great mother
Besides these last 10 years, her and my best friend been sleeping with each other
I just called home from the (shu), my brother denied 8 calls
But when I was home selling drugs, he never denied 8 balls
Dudes been talking about me because of my situations
And even though I was in pain, I never once asked the nurse for medication
And when everybody was complaining, I still didn’t complain
Some went crazy and I still maintained
And when everybody was crying, I cried inside
Now I understand when Jadakiss said, “Why?”
I picked up a Qur’an, now I see what I didn’t use to see
And as I sit back and listen to a lot of these dudes, they remind me of who I used to be
But you know what hurts the most is when you gotta tell a story
About the people you love doing you wrong
The same family, friends, girls, so-called loyal ones
Posting on Facebook and Instagram, “Free me to come home”
(Damn)

P.S. God created men weak and it’s the trials and tribulations we go through that make us strong. We have to have responsibilities, and if you don’t have that, you’re not a man yet. See I thought I was a man also when I was buying cars, jewelry, blowing money, and having any woman I wanted. See I was a boy not understanding life because none of that stuff made me strong. None. If most of us died today, we won’t even have insurance on ourselves. See we desire the wrong things in life. Please, please change. A wise man always told me, “If you can’t change the people around you, then change the people around you.”

Today’s Mathematics

By JO

30 minutes of chaos
Plus 1 Public Pretender
Plus 1 judge
Equals 39 years
16 years, with about 5 of those drug and alcohol-induced
Produces a very impressionable mind
Countless days filled with violence
Equals a whole lot of trauma
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Moorish Science, History
Plus studying mysteries
Equals a solid understanding
Empathy plus suffering
Equals a road to redemption

My Poem to Y’all

By AT

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
Can’t write home, cuz Mom NEVER write back

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
Baby mother block the jail phone, can’t speak to my daughter
because she messing with another dude

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
Don’t have no money, can’t go to commissary
and only get $5.21 every month
for a excellent job I do

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
The officer’s racist, they tie you up
and beat you and wait till you heal
and send you on another compound
and think that everything’s cool

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
I am going to stay Free Minded and
kill them with kindness, that’s what I am
going to do

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
I’m staying positive and have to just
find me a positive crew

39021-007

By LC

39021-007
That is my number till I pass away to heaven
It belongs to me
the thirty-nine thousand twenty-first man
to be sentenced and sent away from D.C.
Never mind my name
I now go by that number
Lost in a dreamless federal slumber
And even when I wake
and walk back through those penitentiary gates
that number will remain
never to be given to another man again
It belongs to me
and as long as I wear it I’ll never be free