Category Archives: Stories
One of my brothers has been in and out of prison since he was 14 years old. He’s 24 this year. I don’t remember the last time he was here for a holiday. My older brother, M.E.F., committed suicide when I was 15 years old. He was only 21 years old. We believe he did it because of the high levels of cocaine he was on and because he was on the verge of going back to jail. My Brother would rather have died, than be sent back to jail.
I have a brother that is incarcerated. He has been behind the prison walls for 31 years. He is serving a life sentence, Life without parole. He and I are not quite a year apart in age. When he got arrested he left behind a 2 month old baby girl, she’s now 31 years old with 2 sons. I always wonder what kind of life my brother would have had if he hadn’t got arrested? He was 22 yrs old at the threshold of manhood. I know he would have been a great father & a great grandfather! I know he would have been a successful God fearing man! These days folk don’t fear nothing because they lost HOPE! My brother has survived all these years behind the prison walls because hope is still alive in him. Praise God! I know he would have made sacrifices for the sake of others (he was always a giver) still is! I know each day he wakes up and things are still the same, it’s a sacrifice! He is the best brother that anyone could be proud of and I’m very proud of him (My Brother). I love and miss my brother so much!
My dad is 70yrs old approaching 40 years in prison. I’m his oldest child. I’m 49yrs old and since a young girl I craved a normal daddy daughter relationship. Dad and I do the best we can at building a daddy’s girl’s relationship, therefore I travel 7 hours to the prison every three months. So hyped when I see my dad behind that glass barrier, but when it’s time to leave him I’m that lost little girl All over again until our next visit. Sometimes I feel my soul is stuck there in the cell with my daddy He’s constantly on my mind trapping me Right there with him in solitary confinement.
Family is everything to me. Its what gives sustenance and beauty to life. It is the essence of our culture. I am african and that is a statement without explanation. My people have always been people of an extended family. That reality should be perpetuated by us all. Family is beautiful, it is who I be, the reflection of my African diaspora. I write my family. Even if they dont write me back, because regardless, I love them! I call them. Regardless of how much it costs me, because their voices are unparalleled to anything I have heard or felt. I love them. Regardless of whether they love me back, because my tears for them are genuine. I long for them. All of the time. And that reality is what I remember (to do, think, and react to) before I commit the next crime. My greatest suggestion is that people recognize that love will find a way. And the only way for Love to find a way is to leave a door open. Never close the door. Whether you are in home, or in prison, you must always stay focused. In my heart I truly believe that. Stay focused and the future is up to us.
Shared Anonymously I’ve always questioned why there’s never enough money for libraries, but always enough for prisons. We are presently building a set of new buildings which will replace the old Graterford. We become what we invest in. If we invest in problems they grow, if we invest in solutions instead the solutions grow and the problems shrink. It cost 35 to 40,000 dollars a year to place someone in Philadelphia prisons. Couldn’t this money be better spent investing in the same people? Prisons take over 25 percent of city budgets. Incarceration creates a big hole in a family and community. Children self esteem is destroyed when their fathers are removed from their lives and placed in prison. Not only is the father or son removed from the family, he also fails to be a contributor, both personally and financially. My suggestion is this: the city should purchase entire city blocks of run down homes. (This could be in Kensington, North Philadelphia, or Southwest Philadelphia). They are only going to return to the same neighborhood upon release. Rebuild the homes and turn them into half way houses for nonviolent offenders. This would cost approximately 1/10 or less than an incarceration. These individuals would then be mandated to attend a programs to address their drug and alcohol, G&D, Vocational Training, or psychological issues utilizing community resources. This would likely cost 3500 to 4000 dollars a year. Inmates could also be placed on work release as migrant workers, street cleaners, or employed to rebuild the neighborhood that they help tear down. Under the supervision of security and trained builders. The money these men earn can be put toward housing expenses so that their incarceration doesnt cost the taxpayer. Also, their money can be used towards child support, so that they and their children are less dependent on the system.
The help needed is not there. It leaves me to figure out what to do next alone. I could never let him sit without seeing me or his child no matter what he did or did not do.
God tells us that He will put us through no more than we can bear!! Well with that being said, I must be a very very strong woman! And thats only by the Grace of God! My son was wrongfully convicted of a crime and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison. My son has no prior record. Always worked, or went to school. He is not and has never been a violent person. He was actually getting ready to go back to college. You see he was accepted into Penn State University when he graduated from high school, but decided to stay home so he could watch over and be there for me. I have been sick for a number of years. I’ve had a number of surgeries, which included brain surgery for an aneurysm. And I’ve been in the hospital more than I would care to mention. So instead of leaving me,he went to Philadelphia Community College instead of Penn State. My youngest daughter was away at college, and my oldest daughter was serving in the military, and was stationed out of town. He was about to go back to Commmunity College when this happened. Andy(my son) is the sweetest person you would ever want to meet.He never hurt a sole! He was very naive and gullible. And would help anyone! He was not a candidate for sainthood! But he has the biggest, and kindest heart! He is the one serving the time in prison, but he always seems to encourage me and his family with his words, in his letters and in the cards that he sends us! But by the time the criminal justice system got through with him he was labeled as a murderer!! This whole event has made us all lose our trust in people, the police, and the criminal justice system! I’m not gonna go into his case, but there was a lot of crazy things that occurred before, during and after his trial was over. His case is now in the appeals stage. I love my son very very much, and I pray that the appeals board can see through all of the lies and deceit that was put on my son, just so they could get a conviction!! No matter what, we are still going to fight for him to get out of this prison system that he does … Continue reading
Life brings the most amazing battles that make you stronger if your wise enough to learn from every experience. I learned the lesson of having a family member in prison starting at a young age. My father was in gratorford for thirteen years. My mother divorce him shortly before that so for the years he was there I never got to see my father. Growing up that affected me in the most great ways good and bad. A female needs to strength and teachings of her father just as much as her mother. Who would think that experience would carry me to my adult life. When I met Salon Smith from first sight I knew I wanted to be apart of his life. Five years later I was granted my wish. We became best friends and it carried on into a marriage. I never forget the day those detectives came to get him. I couldn’t sleep. I held our children all night not knowing what to do. I just remembered my childhood and promised them on that day that I would never allow them the pain of not having their father at all. What a battle was I in for. County visits taught me the basics of visits. Gratorford turned me into a vican. Up at 5am, dressed me and he kids and off to take two trains and a bus to Gratorford every Saturday for years and years. The rides up were exciting. Daydreaming of the face of the man I loved for years. Thinking of seeing the kids run into his arms and how he would hug me and smile. We are at the prison. The kids run off the bus and into the waiting area. The male guards are looking you up and down like a piece of meat and the female guards are rolling there eyes at you. We wait an hour sometimes two hearing all the names being called. My children asking when is it our turn. ” I wanna see Daddy mommy” my son cries over and over again until they call his name. We all rush to the search room. A guard says ” those jeans have to many zippers and buttons, they have no pockets and look like tights, your tee shirt isn’t long enough, cut the wire out of your bra here are some scissors”, to my children ” your daughters … Continue reading
Ive spent 14 years of my life in graterford prison. each day i spent in there seem like the last day of my life. I committed my crime when i was seventeen years old. I never had anyone there to guide me thru the way. I was a product of the thing that sorrounded me. wich was negativity. I always say I wish I could have had some one to show me right from wrong. but it did not work out that way.I was trapped into a system that did not have any love for me. I left children behind to fin for themselvess. I had to watch my wife come back and forth to graterford with my kids being humiliated by the guards. The system will try to break your family so that in the end they will give up on you. god willing I had a wife that could not be broke. but I witness a lot of people’s families give up on them because they could not deal with the pressure that the prison put them thru. It got so bad that my own children could not sit on my lap anymore. I would cry inside,but I could not let my family see this because at the end of the day I had to be strong for them. it was bad enough that I left them, it would have been even worse if they seen me cry. So many personal things happen to my family while I was incarcerated. things that needed my undivided attention but I could not be there to support my family. it kind of made me bitter at first, but I knew I had to make a change if not for me then for my kids. I could not let them repeat the same things I been thru. So I decided to make change starting with myself. I built myself from the ground up. I decided to reprogram myself from the old me and make a change in someone else life. I told myself my mistake will not be some one else mistakes if I could help it. I followed my heart wich was art. and thru this art I found out i can make a change and help some one. I can share my many stories to the younger people that mural are has adopted thru there program the guild, which I … Continue reading
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