Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If I Only Had a Brain…

June 30th 2009

The prospect of writing a real entry tonight feels something on par with Hercules’ twelve labors. My recuperation is going quite well, thank you, but I am still very tired and note feeling terribly creative since I started refusing my pain meds. My reasons for doing so are a little complicated, but the logic can basically be summed up by saying that I would rather face a painful truth, than live with a blissful illusion. In all things. Remember I said that for later. All in all, my body feels pretty good. The eternal pessimist in me is slowly accepting defeat (at least on the medical issue), though he still keeps up a nearly incessant stream of ridiculous tarradiddle, just to make his presence known.

At any rate, though I feel incapable of delving into any specific subject with even a modicum of acumen, I will leave you with a few items you might find of interest. The FIRST is the psych report I promised to post. I originally offered to do this in a fit of self-effacing fervor, thinking that this was positively an action which no self-respecting narcissist would engage in. After I started thinking about it, I realized that there were other people mentioned in the report, both in name and title, and I have no right to put them out there in this fashion. I hope you understand then why I have blacked out names and descriptors which might be used to identify someone. I have always taken care to include only people who have given me permission to mention them, with the exception being public figures. (You might devote a few seconds of thought to that statement, as it will produce some rather interesting conclusions.) I had also originally planned to explain portions of the report, and had compiled a small mountain of data from the DSM-IV and other sources. In the end, I decided to let it stand, as is. I’m tired of defending myself, and it would take away from my attempt at complete openness and vulnerability if I were to hover about making comments. It is what it is, and I never professed to be anything other than broken.

In addition, I am supplying the RESULTS of a handwriting analysis completed by one of the FBI’s most experienced experts in the field. This professional was supplied with two samples of my handwriting, and came up with an absolutely staggering amount of data, most of it pretty accurate. I always believed Heraclitus when he wrote, “The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself,” but I am afraid H never met anyone from the FBI’s Behavioral Science teams. If you think it odd that I have access to such an expert, I will only say I have some kickass friends.

For those of you with a more intellectual bent, the next three links are for you. FIRST I have provided the results of a recent study of criminologists and their views on the issue of deterrence as it relates to the death penalty. Highly instructive.

In the same vein HERE is a report by the US Department of Justice on conditions in the Harris County (Houston) jails. Gee, it’s funny how it says the exact same thing that inmates have been saying for years …(and been called liars for!).

For the more globally minded, HERE is what the United Nations says about the state of capital punishment in America, as of May 28th, 2009.

Now, most of that is kind of heavy, so I thought I would leave you with something humorous. Behold! The lunatic fringe SPEAKETH! Posted is this lady’s third of fourth letter to me, and each of these wonderful samples possessed all the wit and charm of a fallout shelter, and prove the point that while beauty may only be skin deep, ugly goes all the way to the bone. At least this particular missive doesn’t wax pathetic for six pages, like the last few. It’s kind of cute: on the inside of the envelope flap she has drawn some red pen marks dripping down, which I can only assume is supposed to represent blood. Very… um… normal… and… uh, well-adjusted… and totally not freaking psycho in any way whatsoever. You are a credit to the militant right, madam! Well done! Perhaps I will be dead in a few years, as you so clearly wish, but your tombstone was carved out years ago. For you, I can think of hundreds of fitting epitaphs to stand in lapidary brilliance for all time, but I think I will keep it simple and with W.H. Auden:
“We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die.”

I will go ahead and save you the effort of having to enter the scary world of internet searches and provide you with mine, penned by G.K. Chesterton:
“Then when this kindly world all round the mane has been blackened out like a lie; when friends fade into ghosts, and the foundations of the world fail; then when the man, believing in nothing and in no man, is alone in his own nightmare, then the great individualistic motto shall be written over him in avenging irony. The stars will be only dots in the blackness of his brain; his mothers face will be only a sketch from his own insane pencil on the walls of his cell. But over his cell shall be written, with dreadful truth, ‘He believes in himself’”

And since such statements require a little explanation, I will allow this to be undertaken by Dostoyevsky and John of Patmos.
“Whatever you say, a complete atheist still stands on the next-to-the-top rung on the ladder of perfect faith. He may take that last step; and he may not – who knows? But the indifferent, they certainly have no faith, only an ugly fear – and only the most sensitive of them have that.”

(Father Tikhon the monk in Dostoyevsky’s “The Possessed”)

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold not hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are WRETCHED, PITIFUL, POOR BLIND AND NAKED. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eye, so you can see. THOSE WHOM I LOVE I REBUKE AND DISCIPLINE.”

Rev 3:15-19

One last note: lady, if you are pissed that I forced them to live up to the ethical guidelines decreed by statute and upon which any ethical individual would demand, you are REALLY going to hate what I have in store for the State of Texas in the coming year. Haha! On that note, I’m out.


© Copyright 2009 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Poetry by Alex Negron

Strangest Fruit
By Alex Negron

Life has biddened me
To eat what’s in front of me
This rotten tree drenches me with
It’s bloody leaves
While I spit out its bitter seeds
Rightfully so –
This is the strangest fruit.
It entered the bloodstream fresh
But each spoiled bite tastes like soot
And it seeths my wretched flesh.

When The Concrete Speaks
By Alex Negron

Shhhh, did you hear that?
Listen closely, there it does again.
That sound makes the noise of a
Thirsty beast.
And you can only hear it when
The concrete speaks.
The concrete speaks of these
Cruel and hardcore streets.
This wretched beast has no
It just devours souls in rage and
One day you will be able to unveil
The voice of these evil streets
And you will see that it is the voice
Of the Devil´s Advocacy
Play if you will
Roll the dice, but always remember
On the devil´s table
The dice always land on the
Snake´s eyes.
Many cry and beg for that
Sound to cease,
But that sound will not cease
Until the Hellish Beast is put on his
Thousand year leash.
My advice to you is to never have
A seat
Keep your hands away from that
Furnace heat.
Neither enjoy those foolish treats –
Because it just might be you in the

Next edition of The Concrete Speaks…

Blood, Sweat and Tears
By Alex Negron

Blood, sweat and tears
Constant heckling and nasty jeers.
Wrongfully convicted by a jury of
His peers.
When he gave up the ghost –
A soldier blatantly chose
To pierce his side with a spear.
That´s the same pain I felt when
The judge handed me fifty years -
Blood, sweat and tears…

By Alex Negron

R17084 –
My face has been erased
And replaced by this
Cursed number.
Millions have been marred
By this prison industry –
Browns –
All of America’s least
We were supposed to watch
Out for the mark of the beast
But numbers keep churning
The population keeps growing – 
Getting devoured at the Criminal
Justice feast.
Can someone please pencil
In my former features?
I’ve been dismembered
Reconfigured –
To fit the criteria of an
Evil Creature
I bleed, I sing
I laugh, I cry
My pillow drowns from
The sorrows late at night.
Does anybody feel my faceless pain?
These concrete walls
These barbed-wires
Is the only divider that
Keeps us from being
The same...

By Alex Negron

My friend dreamed a snake
I saw America’s mask fall off
Its disfigured face.
His tongue hisses
The body slithers
Venomous hatred courses through
The veins of the Mississippi like
The virus from “Outbreak”.
From State-to-State
His campaign became a fuelsalage
For hate.
“Let’s build a wall!”
“They steal, pillage and rape!”
“Let’s make America great –“
Will that wall finally satisfy your
Savage thirst?!
Grab a mirror
The globe sees you at your
There’s claims that this land
Is free – 
But it’s a nation so advanced
In gender and racial inequality.
Oppression prevails for the
Sake of democracy.
Natives slaughtered and displaced
Africans turned into perpetual slaves
Latina/os scolded for seeking a better way –
When has America ever been great?!
Perhaps when Jim Crow thrived during
It’s hey-day.
I get threatened
My concerns are disregarded
They incarcerate and obliterate
So that the 1% can maintain
Its place and get a better
Tax break.
They can hate me and
Call me every name.
I still reject their racist national Anthem!
Never will I be consumed
By America’s poisonous venom!!!

Institutional Shakedown
By Alex Negron

“Orange Crush is in the building!”
Is the call I hear before dawn breaks.
“Awake, awake, Tactical is here to take!”
A thousand boots stomping
Hundreds of sticks rattling
While they invade the cell-house to raid.
Like the beaches of Normandy
Officers storm and continue to surge
Oh, I’m sorry – 
You didn’t know?
It’s every prisoner’s reality,
Correctional officers conduct their
Own rendition of “The Purge”.
Torture, mockery, dejection and rejection
Are their ways of degradation
Steel handcuffs becomes my own
Form of the cross.
My cell gets pillaged and my
Belongings get tossed.

I really do hate shakedowns –
They’re the worst!
Officers from the racist South
Use this day to mete out
The punishment they believe 
We deserve.
My photos are dispersed, pissed on
And desecrated.
It’s as if I was not fearfully and 
Wonderfully created in God’s image.
My Bible is torn and ripped,
I guess they hate that Salvation
For the imprisoned exists.
I pray deep from the heart within –
That this nation’s thirst for
Retribution finally ends.
There’s cheers and chants while
They egg each other on.
Tears of anger begins to flow
While I check to see what’s gone.
Underneath the pile of what resembles
To be my stuff,
I find my T.V. buried, broken
And crushed.

How can I explain this
Tragedy to my family?
All while I’m forced to
Navigate my way out
Of this carceral trade.
They have dwindled in a
Steady pace,
I’m just another number
Becoming a burden financially.
I’m trying my best to stay
Mentally afloat,
But it’s hard to breathe while
The oppressor’s boot is pressed
On my throat.
And the media’s ratings boost when
They target me as America’s Scapegoat.

There’s not one facility where
This does not take place
This is how the elite
Can mask their terrorist face
And dispose of society’s waste...

Alex Negron R17084
Stateville Correctional Center
P.O. Box 112
Joliet, IL 60434

I’m not the kind who wishes for fame or money.  I can only hope that my contribution to the world of literature makes a difference in this world someday.  I’ve been through it all – I struggled with drug and alcohol addiction as well as obesity for a good portion of my life.  My faith in God has kept me alive thus far and has allowed me the strength to address those brutal issues.  I enjoy writing because it’s an intricate part of being a human being on this planet.  It also allowed me to dig deep into the abyss of my lost emotions. I spent many years playing the role of a caged animal until writing freed my incarcerated soul.  My mission in life – whether free of imprisoned – is to help change lives and reshape today’s definition of the word community.  I look forward to networking and meeting people with that same agenda in their lives.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Major Thomas to Ground Control

Wednesday, June 10th 2009

Greetings Earthmen.

This is just a quick message from that lofty region of space that can only be reached by a couple of Tylenol-3’s. I have just returned from two weeks spent at John Sealy Hospital where I (finally) received the fix for the original surgery on my arm. I feel…well, I find it fitting that what doctors do is called a “practice”, because I feel quite “practiced” upon. As far as the damage goes, I am now the proud owner of a brand-spanking new 9-inch scar on my left calf, where they took some bone from my fibula (*Don’t worry, you don’t even need a fibula…” apparently, millions of years of biological evolution got that wrong, at least according to UTMB Docs), and a new scar on my left hip which mirrors the one I already had on my right from the last operation. To the massive river shaped behemoth which snakes its way down from my left shoulder to my elbow, I now have a few tributaries and an alluvial plain, to continue this rather codeine-enhanced metaphor. Nevertheless, a few positives must be noted: firstly, my left arm is still my left arm, and not made of wood, which cannot be over-emphasised as a good thing. Secondly, the power of a pesky prisoner carrying a big lawsuit has triumphed over the UTMB bureaucrats, and I have claimed victory. Huzzah! Too bad, really, because I have no intention of keeping quiet about my methods. Too many hurt people around here for that. More on this to come.

It’s hard to say at this point whether the job was done right this time, as the only signals that are coming from that side of my body generally go something like, “Ok, we surrender, go ahead and cut us off, for the love of God,” but the doctors seem pleased. And since I am feeling as docile as a Burmese Tree Sloth on Xanax, I suppose I must admit I feel pleased, too. Yeah, yeah, I know, codeine isn’t exactly hard-core, but it’s been awhile since I had anything good, so lay off.

At some point they are bound to deliver all of the mail which has been accumulating here at the Villa Polunsky in my absence. I shall endeavor to get back with all of you as soon as I can figure a way to sit up comfortably. Until then, I am out of here.

© Copyright 2009 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Poetry by Larry Stromberg

By Larry Stromberg 

We met in an instant. There was no warning. I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t looking for it. It just happened. We fell in love and were married in a flash. We were husband and wife. The start of a wonderful life.

Then, over time: our abusive and addictive behaviors surfaced, and we were headed for a collision. 

Your betrayal became evident. Adultery thrived with lustful madness. Lies whispered in the wine. The twisted anxiety, rage and obsession took over my mind. Abuse emerged like a tidal wave. We were in a hurricane. Tragedy became a reality by my guilty hands of insanity. 

Reality now: Life without the chance of parole.

Regret, remorse and sorrow linger with every thought I think. With every move I make. The grief and loss overwhelm my broken heart. I’m frozen with shame.

We did collide. Now, there’s nowhere to hide. I’d rather die. We did collide.

Now, I sit here all alone day after day; as the tears flow from my eyes. I wish I could enter a time machine and change the past. Ride the illumination and make things right. I try to hold onto the sweet memories of our love. Our first kiss. When we made love. It was magic to me. These beautiful memories help me to go on. To be a sojourner in this life.

I long to see you again in the great beyond; to tell you face to face – soul to soul – that I’m truly sorry and I wish I would have done things so differently. To tell you that you are and always will be the love of my life.

Or, am I just believing a lie? Something to soothe the pain still in my broken heart. Maybe the collision is still raging on inside of me.

Maybe I need to let you finally go? Let it all go and live with the ruins from the collision.

I’m Free Within
By Larry Stromberg 

When I stage plays and get lost in music, I’m free.
I’m free from my past.
Free from my mistakes.
Free from my regrets.
Free from the guilt.
Free from the shame.
I’m free from the loss and the pain.
I’m free within.
Free to be me.
Free in my creativity.
Free to encourage others.
Free to go on.
Free to live.
Free to forgive.
Free to forgive myself.
Free to cry.
Free to smile again.
Free to love myself.
Free to fly and soar.
Free to dream.
If I’m blessed to do what I love, then I’m free.
I’m free within.
Truly free inside.
I’m free.

Endure [A Short Play]
By Larry Stromberg

[An older man enters the stage – from stage left – and slowly walks over to center stage. He stops and looks at the audience with weary eyes. He slowly begins to speak.]

Older Man:
This is a true story. (Pause) It was Christmas, 1973. (Beat) I met Joey when I was seven years old, during a difficult time in my childhood. I was being sexually abused over and over again by three individuals. It was finally over. But the pain was still there. I guess, in some way, it will always be there. The pain. (Pause) Joey was seven years old himself and was diagnosed with leukemia. He only had weeks to live. (Pause) Well, we played for hours like children do; and an angel was going to fly him to heaven very soon. He was gonna be with Jesus. (Pause) When it was time for me to go, he thanked me for being his friend and gave me his best and favorite toy he got for Christmas that year. It was a G.I. Joe action figure. I still have that G.I. Joe action figure at home to this very day. (Pause) Joey’s last words to me were: “To endure, my friend.” (Beat) “Endure.”

[The older man begins to sing softly.]

Older man (singing):
Endure. Endure. Endure. You can make it through.
Endure. Endure. Endure. The sun will shine for you.
Endure. Endure. Endure. Love will bring you through.
Endure. Endure. Endure. Your angel will guide you through.
Endure. Endure. Endure. (Beat) Endure. Endure. Endure.
You can make it through. You can make it through. You-can-make-it-through…

[The older man stops singing.]

Older man:
Joey died a few weeks later. It’s amazing how you can meet an individual just once and that encounter will change you for a lifetime. (Pause) Joey’s last words to “endure” have been a stronghold of strength and faith with each trial and tribulation that I have faced in my life. I’ve endured being incarcerated with deep sincere remorse. Incarcerated for decades now. I’ve endured. I guess we all have endured in some way. We’ve endured. We can endure through it all. (Pause) So, I’ll leave you with Joey’s last words to me on that Christmas of 1973: “Endure, my friends.” (Beat) “Endure.”

[The older man backs away and exits stage left.]

The end.

Larry Stromberg DG6379
SCI Graterford
P.O. Box 244
Graterford, PA 19426-0244
My name is Larry Stromberg, and I am a resident at S.C.I. Graterford in Pennsylvania.  I’ve written and staged over 60 plays since being incarcerated, and look forward to sharing my work with Minutes Before Six readers.  

Poetry by Edwin Turner

A Slave for Life – The Life of a Slave
By Edwin Turner aka Tāriq Zaynu-l-Ábidiyn

[This is a spoken word poem about the perspective of an African slave, 
historically and in modern times.] 

My historical presence within this country was a gloomy atmosphere of chaotic situations and,
although I never had the intentions of coming here,
Fate has led me into shackles of a foreign people.

Wading through the tracks of Nigerian mud,
chains producing scars of blood, ripping through the humanity of my ankles is all I remember!

O, ha! I remember being led through an assembly line of slaves to a boat called the Mayflower where,
we were shoved inside of a small dark room, exposed to the dreadful smell of urination and feces and,
all I could think about was that it would be contrary to the historical strength of African people for me to allow this circumstance to defeat me!

See, I was the victim of colonizers motivated by greed for material possessions,
forced to work in cotton fields to produce capital for American capitalists, while,
at the same time, questioning the meaning behind my existence as an African.

I was told that my position as a slave would be temporary and the Christianity in our oppressors would force them to emancipate us!
Ironically, the emancipation proclamation was alleged to have freed us but
the Jim Crow era showed us to what extent the US Government had deceived us!

A perpetual status of inferiority, the 13th Amendment could attest to this reality,
the stratification of society with Africans as its lowest class thus,
industrialized slavery was born! 

The case of a man named Freeway Rick illuminates to what extent the local police departments, in cahoots with the CIA, had conspired to introduce drugs into LA thus,
creating a social structure conducive to the hijacking of Africans with the goal of assimilating them back into the slave plantation (prison)!

Edwin Turner AI4237
Pelican Bay State Prison
Unit A2 Cell 211
P.O. Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95532-7000

My name is Edwin Turner. As I became conscious of my political and spiritual surroundings, I took on the name Tāriq Zaynu-l-Ábidiyn. My birthday is August 21, 1991. I am 26 years old.

I was born in Lynwood, California, and raised throughout the inner-city ghettos of Los Angeles County. I was born to a single parent – my mother. Growing up in the inner-city with a relatively poor parent who had five kids, struggling to acquire the necessities of life became a normal experience.

Gang activity was prevalent within the local schools and surrounding neighborhoods. Association with members of gangs was normal and aspiring to inculcate gang behavior was seen as producing an opportunity for economic progress and power. I joined a gang when I was 15 years old.

In 2011, I was found guilty of attempting to murder two unknown individuals – John Doe’s 1 and 2 – even though no witnesses ever accused me of doing so. Experiencing this clear injustice inspired me to fight my own case through the appellate courts.

As I arrived to the slave plantation (prison), I began to observe the tyranny of the CDCR – aka the Californian Department of Corruption and Repression. At the same time, I was denied my appeal on my criminal case, which was clearly an insult to justice, I started to study politics, unbiased US history, African culture, etc.… Slowly, I became politically aware of the extent to which those who claim to represent us American citizens have conspired to deprive us of our human rights.

I have developed a spiritual ideology rooted in the reality that humanity is one brotherhood/sisterhood and was produced by one Essence. I am anti-oppression, anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism. I believe that all human beings have the right to live in peace and strive to reach spiritual, economic and political stability. I believe that all human beings have a moral obligation to assist all sectors of the human family in areas that they lack in. I firmly believe that women and children are the pillars of society and, therefore, they should be given the means to acquire spiritual, intellectual and moral elevation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Minutes Before Six Contributors

This page lists information about the artists and writers that currently contribute 
regularly to or have made a lasting impression on Minutes Before Six

Steve Bartholomew

I have been factually absent from the world for nearly 15 years, time spent remaking myself into an artist, writer and musician songwriter.  My greatest sense of accomplishment comes from being a worthwhile dad to my two sons, my overarching goal to be in four years the citizen I never was before this.  They say happiness is what you volunteer, as adage proving itself in my life.  In writing for Minutes Before Six I’ve become part of the ongoing conversation rather than simply its subject.  For that, I thank you.

To watch a video clip of a stunningly beautiful reading of an excerpt from Steve’s essay by Katherine Hervey, a multimedia producer, college instructor and restorative justice facilitator for incarcerated populations, click here

Art and Writing by Steve Bartholomew

Steve Bartholomew 978300
P.O. Boxx 777
Monroe, WA 98272-0777

Michael Belt

Michael Belt is a simple man, a lover, a fighter and a full time dreamer – with a realistic sense.  He is truthful and loyal to a fault.  To quote Henry Thoreau’s Walden, “In an unjust society, the only place for a just man is in prison." And in his own words, “Never let hope die!”

Writing and Poetry by Michael Belt

Michael Belt KU8088
SCI Houtzdale
P.O. Box 1000
Houtzdale, PA 16698-1000

Jeremiah Bourgeois

Jeremiah Bourgeois has been serving a life without parole sentence since he was 14 years old. On June 25 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that sentencing juveniles to mandatory life without parole sentences violates the Eight Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. It is likely that he will be resentenced to a term that would allow him to be released in the future. In Fall 2013, the Ohio State Journal on Criminal Law will publish a scholarly essay written by Bourgeois, entitled “The Irrelevance of Reform: Maturation in the Department of Corrections.” In October 2013, Jeremiah had an essay published in the Ohio State University Moritz School of Law Journal, which you can read here.

Writing by Jeremiah Bourgeois

Jeremiah Bourgeois, DOC #708897
Coyote Ridge Corrections Center
P.O. Box 769
Connell, WA 99326

Christi Buchanan

Christi Buchanan was released from prison in June 2016

Writing and poetry by Christi Buchanan

Terrell Carter

Terrell Carter was born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and is currently on his 21st year of a life-without-parole sentence at Graterford Correctional Institute. His published works include Guilty Reflections (revised edition), Guilty Reflections II (War of the Soul), and coming soon, Tainted Soul. These works are available through

Writing by Terrell Carter

Terrell Carter BZ-5409
SCI Graterford
PO Box 244
Graterford, PA 19426-0244
Burl N. Corbett

Born 6/9/47 in Reading, PA.  Raised on a 123-acre sheep farm only three crow miles from John Updike´s famous sandstone farmhouse of “Pigeon Feathers,” The Centaur, and Of the Farm.  Graduated from Daniel Boone High School in 1965.  Ran away to Greenwich Village to become a beatnik in 1966 with only a Martin guitar and the clothes on my back.  Lived among the counterculture for 3 years, returning disillusioned to PA for good in 1968.  Worked on a mink farm; poured steel in a foundry; chased the sun as a cross-country pipeliner; drove the big rigs, baby!; picked tomatoes with migrant workers; tended bar on the old skid row Bowery; worked as a reporter, columnist, and photographer for two Southeastern Pennsylvania newspapers; drove beer truck (hic!); was a “HEY, CULLIGAN MAN!”; learned how to plaster, stucco, and lay stone; published both fiction and nonfiction in several nationally distributed magazines and literary quarterlies; got married and raised four children; got divorced and fell into the bottle; and came to prison at the age of 60 with no previous criminal offenses other than a 25 year-old DUI. The “crime”? Self-defense in my own house without financial means to hire a decent lawyer.  Since becoming the “guest” of the state in 2007, I have won five PEN Prison Writing Awards (two first and three honorable mentions); the first and only prize of $500 in the 2013 Eaton Literary Agency short fiction contest; written a children/young adult book, Coon Tales, soon to be published by Xlibris; a novel of the 1967 “Summer of Love,” Dreaming of Oxen; a magic realism novel, A Redneck Ragnorak, and many short stories and memoirs.  My first novel, A Haven from Violence, is available at or

Burl N. Corbett HZ6518
SCI Albion
10745 Route 18
Albion, PA 16475-0002

Jeff C.

Jeff was released from prison in 2015.

Writing, poetry and art by Jeff C.

Jeff C.

Chris Dankovich

I am a tutor/teacher, a writer, an artist, and I have been incarcerated since I was 15. I am proud to say that I’ve helped over 100 young men earn their GED diplomas, and that I’ve been published in the Harvard Educational Review, The Periphery Magazine, The Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing Volumes 3, 4, 5, and 6; won second place for essay in the 2014 PEN prison writing contest, and have been accepted to be published in FENCE magazine and placed third in non-fiction in Vidahlia Press’s 2014 prison writing contest.

Art, poetry and writing by Chris Dankovich

Chris Dankovich 595904
Thumb Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Drive
Lapeer, MI 48446

Joseph Dole

Joseph Dole is 41 years old.  Born in Saginaw, Michigan, he moved to Illinois when he was 8 years old.  He has been continuously incarcerated since the age of 22, and spent nearly a decade of his life entombed at the notorious Tamms Supermax Prison in complete isolation (Tamms was shuttered in 2013 after an intense campaign by human rights groups, and the families and friends of prisoners who were confined and tortured there).

Mr. Dole is currently serving a life-without-parole sentence after being wrongly convicted of a gang-related, double murder.  He continues to fight that conviction pro se, and has recently uncovered evidence suppressed by the State, which proves that the State´s star witness committed perjury on the stand.

His first book A Costly American Hatred (available at  both as paperback and e-book) is an in-depth look at how America´s hatred of “criminals” has led the nation down an expensive path that not only ostracizes and demonizes an overgrowing segment of the population, but is also now so pervasive that it is counterproductive to the goals of reducing crime and keeping society safe;  wastes enormous resources; and destroys human lives.  Anyone who is convicted of a crime is no longer considered human in the eyes of the rest of society.  This allows them to be ostracized, abused, commoditized and disenfranchised.

Mr. Dole´s second book, Control Units and Supermaxes: A National Security Threat, details how long-term isolation units not only pose grave threats to inmates, but also guards who work there and society as a whole.

 He has also been published published in Prison Legal News, The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, The Mississippi Review, Stateville Speaks Newsletter, The Public I Newspaper, Scapegoat and numerous other places on-line such as and among others.  His writings have also been featured in the following books: Too Cruel Not Unusual Enough (ed. By Kenneth E. Hartman, 2013); Lockdown Prison Heart (iUniverse, 2004); Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People´s Gude to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time (James Kilgore, 2015); Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement (The New Press, 2016).

Mr. Dole´s artwork has been displayed in exhibits in Berkeley, CA, Chicago, and New York.  He has also won four PEN Writing Awards for Prisoners, among others.

He is both a jailhouse journalist and jailhouse lawyer, as well as an activist and watchdog ensuring Illinois public bodies are in compliance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

You can see more of his work on his Facebook Page

He will respond to all letters.

Joseph Dole K84446
Stateville Correctional Center
P.O. Box 112
Joliet Il 60434

Anthony Engles

My name is Anthony Scott Engles, born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1965.  After a brief stint in the Navy, I pretty much roamed around the country, waiting tables and bartending.  I settled in Spokane in 1994, then got pretty heavy into survivalism and related activities.  I got in a shoot out with Stevens County Deputies in 2003 and wounded one of them.  I’m serving a 30-year sentence in Washington State, where I have done the majority of my writing.  I have one short story published and several unpublished short stories and poems.

Read Tony's writing here

Anthony Engles 832039
Coyote Ridge Corrections Center
P.O. Box 769
Connell, WA 99326

Dewan Evans

I am Dewan Evans, born and raised in Los Angeles California.  I´m 40 years young.  Still looking and feeling young. I´m fortunate and blessed to still be living and healthy.   I´m the only child of a single mum, though my mum didn't raise me.  My grandmother did.  My mother since died in 2011. I've been behind these cold bars for 19 years for a crime and accusations that I´m innocent of. I was railroaded by the system, betrayed by close ones I considered friends, with fabricated stories.  Despite these 19 years on lock, I´ve strived to better myself mentally, spiritually as well as physically, and with my writings I´m hoping to achieve but to be a positive aspect to the world. I´m still fighting in many ways not just for my freedom, but to remain relevant in my family´s life, to better my mind, heart and faith.   Enjoy my poetry, songs, stories and art. My books are available on Amazon: No Bully, My Daily Bread and Still Fighting.

Dewan Evans T30778
CSP Corcoran
P.O. Box 5242 
Corcoran, CA 93212

Samuel Hawkins

Samuel Hawkins is 41 years old and has been incarcerated since age 19. State raised, he will, at age 45, finally be freed.

Click here to read Hawk's writing

Samuel Hawkins 706212
Washington State Penitentiary
1313 N. 13th Avenue
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Willie Johnson

Willie Johnson has been imprisoned on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison in California for more than 30 years.

Read Willie's writing here

Willie Johnson C35635 
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974

Michael Wayne Hunter

Michael Wayne Hunter spent 18 years on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison before his sentence was commuted to Life Without Parole in 2002. He is the recipient of awards from PEN America Center for fiction and non-fiction, and the William James award for prose.

Read Michael's writing here

Michael Hunter C83600
Sierra Conservation Center
5150 O'Byrnes Ferry Road 3C-149L
Jamestown, CA 95327

Michael Lambrix

Mike spent 34 years on Death Row before being executed by the State of Florida on October 5, 2017. To Live And Die On Death Row by C. Michael Lambrix is available as a free download here.

Read Mike's essays here

Michael Lambrix was executed
by the State of Florida on October 5, 2017

Art Longworth

I have been in prison for about 30 years with a Life Without Parole sentence. I instruct a university Spanish language course for University Behind Bars, a non-profit prison education program. The Prison Diary of Arthur Longworth is available through University Beyond Bars.

This article featuring Art appeared on the front page of The Seattle Times in 2012. Concurrently, NPR did a related story on the Liz Jones Show.

Read Art's essays here

Arthur Longworth 299180 C-238
Monroe Correctional Complex – WSRU
P.O. Box 777
Monroe, WA 98272

Mwandishi Mitchell

Mwandishi Mitchell is an innocent man serving time at the State Correctional Institution of Graterford. After serving ten years of his wrongful conviction, Mwandishi realized he had a talent in creative writing. Besides pursuing his writing career, he continues to fight in court reverently in pursuit of overturning his wrongful conviction. A published author, Mwandishi has two books, The Prodigal Son and The Prodigal Son 2, which can be downloaded and read for free at

Mwandishi’s writing can be found here and his poetry here.

Mwandishi Mitchell GB6474
SCI Houtzdale
P.O.Box 1000
Houtzdale, PA 16698-1000

Santonio Murff

At the age of 20, Santonio was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. “I am only guilty of investing love and loyalty in the wrong individuals,” he says. During his years of incarceration, he has educated and elevated himself and others. He founded The Righteous Movement to bury the self-destructive mentality of ride or die (kill or be killed), and to resurrect in its stead a new righteous battle cry of SURVIVE AND SUCCEED (live long and prosper)!Santonio is the winner of numerous PEN awards for essays, short stories and screenplays. His work has appears in numerous publications, including Sister-2Sister magazine.

Read San's writing here and poetry here

Santonio Murff #773394
French M. Robertson Unit
12071 FM 3522
Abilene, Texas 79601
Jedidiah Murphy

My name is Jedidiah Murphy and I have been incarcerated since October 4, 2000 on Death Row in Texas.  I was raised in Texas and was adopted twice.  I graduated High School in 1994.  I am a husband and father to two girls whom I love without limits.  I make unfathomable mistakes and most times cannot see the forest for the trees.  I am flawed, I am human and I am trying to be something more than the sum of my parts.  So far… no such luck but I am stubborn and I have faith in tomorrow.

Jedidiah's writing is here and his poetry is here

Jedidiah Murphy 999392
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351

Tom Odle

Tom Odle N66185
Dixon Correctional Facility
2600 N. Brinton Avenue
Dixon, IL 61021

Miguel Angel Paredes

Miguel Paredes was executed by the State of Texas on October 28, 2015.

Miguels' writing is here and is art and poetry are here

Timothy Pauley

Incarcerated since 1980, Tim has actively pursued educational opportunities. His first book, Life in Prison; Digging in and Getting Stated, was published in 2003. Tim writes in a variety of areas including fiction, op-ed, self help, non-fiction prison commentary. Currently he is actively involved in sentencing reform and the fight against the prisonization of America. He is always seeking intelligent dialogue that will expand his consciousness beyond the prison walls.

Read Tim's essays here

Timothy Pauley #273053 
Washington State Reformatory Unit
P.O. Box 777 
Monroe, WA. 98272-0777

Louis Perez

Greetings to you all:

Thank you so much for taking the time to view my work and reading this. My name is Louis Castro Perez…I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. I have 4 wonderful children…3 boys, 1 girl – ages 32 to 23. I have 5 grandchildren as well. All beautiful…Just like their Grandpa HA!

I have never really considered myself an “artist”. I was a carpenter for many years and I loved it and was very good at my craft.

I had never tried to put pencil to paper until I was put here on Death Row 15 years ago. I started out only doing Cartoon characters, but through the years, I’ve been blessed to have been around some true artists…MP…AP…Beto Perez…Big 50…Carlos Treviño…Big Foot…and so many more…They were and still are very inspirational to me! A lot of the art I’ve seen is called Jail House Art…and it is awesome, but once I learned how to do portraits…it was all over…it’s pretty much all I do now. We all have a lot of time on our hands back here…22 hours a day in our cells. So a lot of us have come up with ways to better our art. Supplies here are not worth getting excited about, but we’ve learned to make do with what we have. There’s something about the process that makes it really satisfying to me. Like I said, we have a lot of time on our hands, and when you’re not doing anything, al there is to do is think. Well…speaking for myself…During the process of getting things ready to draw or paint something…I always think of all the good things in my life: God and family. Sometimes I’m so lost in thought, it amazes me that I don’t mess up a drawing because I don’t stop the work…I just keep going.

And even while staring at my work…I sometimes don’t even see it…I see my thoughts…I don’t know if that makes any sense?? HA! HA!! I sure hope so.

I know one thing…I could start drawing at 8:00 a.m….look up and it will be dark outside. I love it!!

I’m sure it’s different for many of the men back here with me, but my art and the process of doing my work allows me to reflect about what’s good in my life, instead of thinking about being executed!


Big Lou

View Louis's writing and art 

Louis Perez 999328
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351

Arnold Prieto Jr.

Arnold Prieto was executed by the State of Texas on January 21, 2015

Arnold's art is here and his writing is here

Eduardo Ramirez

How does your seven line bio read?

I am a dream deferred
I am hope on hold
I am soon to come
I am in progress
I am an arrow pointing true
I am human
I am you, man

Eddie's poetry is here and is writing is here
Edward Ramirez DN6284
SCI Graterford
P.O. Box 244
Graterford, PA 19426

Chuck Rienhardt

Hi. My name is Chuck Reinhardt and I am an Arizona Death Row inmate.  All the artwork and poetry you have seen and read come from the book “Dead Behind the Eyes…the Awakening”.   This is an unpublished book that I have written and illustrated including the cover in which you see.  Hopefully you are a publisher and want to help me give this kickass book to the world. I´m sitting here in this cage waiting to hear from all of you. Have a good one today.

If you like the artwork you see here, original pieces of my work can be found at  There's some cool ass shit there. Check it out, or contact me directly.

Respect Always, Chuck

View Chuck's poetry and art here

Chuck Rienhardt 084033
Arizona State Prison Complex - Eyman
SMU #2 Browning Wing 3-G-16
P.O. Box 3400
Florence, AZ 85132

Rosendo Rodriguez

Greetings, my name is Rosendo Rodrigues and I grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. At 18, I studied political science and history at Texas Tech University and I served in the marine corps as an imperial storm trooper for the US Government.  I speak English and German.  I enjoy reading science fiction and playing Dungeons and Dragons and love finding hilarity wherever it may ensue.  I currently reside in a gated community on Death Row in Texas. Schreib mir auf deutsch, oder, write mein English.

Rosendo Rodriguez 999534
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351

John Ruzas

The writing of John “Jackie” Ruzas has been widely published and he’s won numerous writing awards, most recently, an Honorable Mention in PEN’s 2012-2013 Prison Writing Contest for his essay titled, “Tragedy 2 Trial and Beyond.” He was released from prison in December 2017.

View Jackie's writing and poetry

John Ruzas was released from prison in December 2017

Tommy Lynn Sells

Tommy Lynn Sells was executed by the State of Texas on April 3, 2014

View Tommy's poetry and art here

J. Michael Stanfield Jr.

I've been in prison serving a life sentence since 1993.  I worked for The Only Voice, the prison newspaper of Turney Center Prison from 1995-2015.  During that time I was a reporter, writer and editor. I currently train service dogs to assist he disabled.

J. Michael Stanfield Jr. 209006 (with Jake)
1499 R. W. Moore Memorial Highway
Only, TN 37140-4050

Isaac Sweet

Read Isaac's writing here

Isaac Sweet 752399
WSRU D-2-27
P.O. Box 777
Monroe, WA 98272-0777

Carlos Trevino

I honestly don’t feel that I am an artist. I never went to school to study art. Those of us here who know how to draw, we share tips and ideas in how to improve our skills. This is done “verbally”. For it is impossible to actually sit down and watch another prisoner draw. So, as best as we can, we explain how to work with what we have. And most of our drawing materials are hand-made. We are very limited to art supplies. All of my drawings are done with a pencil that is not meant for drawing. All of my drawings are done with a Dixon # 2/HB pencil. We don’t have access to graphite drawing pencils. I am not really sure I would know how to use them. My other drawing materials are rolled toilet paper, my own hair and a small piece of sponge. They took our pencil sharpeners and here lately my teeth and nails are part of how I sharpen my pencils. These are the only materials I have access to.

My reason for picking up a pencil was because I love art. Little did I know it helped with escaping this place. And little did I know it was also therapeutic, sitting down for hours and drawing something that captures the soul. Creating something beautiful from a death row cell makes me feel good. It’s therapeutic.

View Carlos's art here
Carlos Trevino #999235 
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351

William Van Poyck

William Van Poyck was executed by the State of Florida on June 12, 2013

View Bill's writing here

Kevin Varga

Kevin was executed by the State of Texas on May 12, 2010

View Kevin's Death Watch Journals here

Christian Weaver

My name is Christian Weaver. I am currently serving a life sentence. I had been writing on and off since my youth; since prison, however, I have taken it very seriously. My first love is poetry, but, I’ve also written aphorisms, essays, opinion pieces and plays. My areas of interest are philosophy, history, anthropology, sociology, religion, literature and politics.

View Christian's poetry and writing.

Christian Weaver 271262
BCCX Site 2
1045 Horsehead Road
Pikeville, TN 37367

Chasity West

My name is Chasity West and I’m a lifelong native of Connecticut. Prior to my arrest I worked as a licensed nurse. In 1998 I was sentenced to life without parole on a first offense. Since my imprisonment I have written dozens of short stories, memoirs, essays and poems. I have immersed myself in many projects and programs, including writing workshops, dance and yoga classes, college courses, gardening and agriculture and drama classes. I think that prison can be a catalyst for self-reform.

To read Chasity’s essays please click here.

Chasity West 266589
York Correctional Facility
201 West Main Street
Niantic, CT 06357

Thomas Bartlett Whitaker

Thomas Bartlett Whitaker started MB6 in 2007. Since then he has earned a few awards and a BA, graduating summa cum laude in 2012. He is currently working his way through a Master’s program in the Humanities. Whether all of this erudition has made him even marginally less stupid is an open question.

View Thomas's art and poetry here and his writing here 

Amazon Wish List

Donate to Thomas's education and defense fund here

Thomas Bartlett Whitaker 02179411

Christopher Wilkins

Christopher Wilkins was executed by the State of Texas on January 11, 2017

View his writing here and his poetry here