Spiraled Out of Control
My life as I once knew it is gone forever. It has been replaced by a new set of rules that I have little control over. In my freedom, I took a lot for granted. I used to swim, loved driving my car or riding a motorcycle. I used to go to restaurants, take hikes in the forest and stroll up and down the beach picking up sea shells. Can you relate to this? I used to check out concerts, play golf (it was my thing) and feel the thrill of catching fish. Even the little things: walking to the store or setting off fireworks on the 4th of July.
All that’s gone now. I miss going to sporting events, living with a woman or cutting down a real Christmas tree. And Halloweens were the best! Now I can’t even visit with my friends and family. And the worst is not being able to go to their funerals when their time comes. I can’t even say that last goodbye. Many have passed away, and the mail is slow. I always learn of the news after the fact. My parents are currently 93 and 94 years old. I don’t even like o think about it.
I have made some really bad decisions. I have caused a lot of pain and grief to people I know and to strangers. When you hurt people, it spreads to other people and we are all connected. It could even be a thousand people affected in my case. It is very sad. I was a selfish person. I didn’t think of anyone but myself. That’s not the way it goes. I was doing drugs. Even when you don’t plan for it, that’s what drugs eventually do. I didn’t listen when people were trying to advise me. It was like they were preaching to me. I hated it. My parents, teachers and friends all tried to tell me I was going down the wrong path. I refused to listen. Even to my best friend! I began doing drugs by myself. I would hide it from people. I spiraled out of control. Don’t make the mistakes I made. Don’t spiral
out of control—. Larry E. Mays CSP-Lancaster
Prison Impacts All
As you know from your own experiences, ass incarceration has not just impacted those who sit in prison cells. You have also been impact-ed! Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and those who are incarcerated are also affected.
Oftentimes, the taxpayers have to foot the bill. Today, through the governor’s Prison Reform plan, 10s of thousands of prisoners are returning to their families on parole.
Because of organizations listed below, our voices are no longer silenced, and together we have been successfully changing this system. Proposition 17 passed and restored the rights of our returning citizens to register and to vote while on parole. Hundreds, if not thousands of you, family members and friends of those incarcerated, came together to help collect signatures which gave Californians the option to vote for Proposition 17 this last election. Due to your incredible work and that of community members and prison reform organizations, we won! This was an extraordinary achievement.
We are just beginning to see the promise fulfilled that our governor made during his campaign. He pledged to reduce the prison population, close prisons and end mass incarceration in California by returning incarcerated citizens home to their families and loved ones. It is extremely important that we do our part in supporting Gov. Gavin Newsom and stopping the “power grab” from non-reformist politicians and organizations.
Sincerely, your friend in the struggle,
Jeffrey Tyson California Medical Facility
(Special thanks to: Initiate Justice; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; All Of Us Or None; California Prison Focus; ARC-Prison Activist Resource Center; San Francisco Bay View; The Last Mile; Root & Rebound; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; San Quentin News; and Life Support Alliance.)
Geoge Jackson vindicated
Vindication is what I felt after reading the article about George Jackson in the August edition of SQNews. In 1986, while walking through Old Folsom’s chow hall, I picked up a book that was on the floor. When I turned the book over I noticed a Black man in shackles. I was 19 years old. My interest was sparked immediately. Before this, I had never read a book in my life, and the only Black authors I knew about were the ones I was briefly introduced to in high school: Richard Wright & Langston Hughes.
Instead of putting the book back on the table, I took it up to my cell. I stayed up all night reading as much as I could and I was blown away by the poetic prose and proud stance taken by this author. The book was Soledad Brother.
It changed everything about me back then. I had no knowledge about what George did while incarcerated. I was only a fan of his prose.
As I grew, I began to foster this revolutionary idealism that actually carried me throughout my incarceration. I’ve read everything he read. From Che to Fanon…
As recent as 10 years ago, prison officials have labeled most of the Black population who were in possession of the book or those who may have had a tattoo of George, as ‘Radicalized Prisoners,’ or prison gang associates, when in fact, most prisoners, such as myself, got interested in George’s life because he explained our circumstances in a way that no one else could. And for us, it was an eye-opener. I remember reading Soledad Brother and just being mesmerized by what I was reading.
Administration associated my reading and being in possession of Soledad Brother as an indication of agreement with what happened during the rebellion and it was nothing like that.
I feel vindicated seeing that San Quentin’s administration had the courage to allow such an article to be published in light of how many Black prisoners were validated for the ‘George association.’
I feel vindicated because although I have changed my life, I believe the George association still follows me wherever I go. College class- es study George these days! This is what he has become, so to vilify him means to vilify everyone who reads about his life. SQNews is BIG throughout CDCR, so I’m re- ally proud to see that you all have taken note and acknowledged the story. Any administration that vilifies George is vilifying SQNews (if that’s the case).
—Marlon Gray Calipatria State Prison