Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

Where does one stand in the grand scheme of the prison industrial complex? In context, some guess a place to hold some, mold one, in this space of correction where the corrected, formerly rejected, return to society a changed figure.

Is it possible to excel beyond the confines we too often find ourselves in? Can we rise above the stuff we may have fallen prey to through situational conditioning while resembling everything the news views as distorted thinking while inking just another name across the headlines our people fear to see?

Can society see me, embrace me, for a chance possibility while being a model inmate on the one hand, yet a man they can’t stand because here I am in the midst of this never-ending always changing stream of internal rules that are not laws that hold as much weight as public policy?

Some democracy in a society where hypocrisy propels only expectations of a prison cell for those who dare not conform to the norm of some assimilation.

Whatever happened to the Constitution?

Just another illusion creating more confusion towards Black masculinity or the cultural interpretations thereof. Because, how many more tears and years must we take on to awake on some other side of thinking negatively within this society when my own actions created distractions too ashamed to face in the reality of being too weak to see that man I never quite learned to be?

The “hardened criminal” tag now placed upon me and some say, “I will never be free,” but freedom comes for some in this time behind bars of scars discarded by precision decisions and elections of corrections to be the best today that I have always been able to be no matter who now may disagree.

As I see the possibility to believe beyond the yesterday that had me bound down to the underground of self-doubt without a hope of anything other than failure.

But how do you hold on to the hope that as you do the right thing everything will work out well when dauntingly the past is hauntingly held on the precipice of suspicion when decisions are made because you are here in the midst of everyone else?

There is a wealth of good within the system should the system take time to define the elements of its own biased mentality; blackened transparency, negligent accountability. Making their inadequacy my responsibility that created so much disparity within the confines called their home of care, custody and control.

Another soul that yearns to be regarded as more than just some inmate with distaste in the dictates of the past…

I am a Black Man. We and Men.

A Man.

A Man that matters. We are men that Matter.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Jeffrey Shockley

Jeffrey Shockley is a PJP contributing writer incarcerated in Pennsylvania.