Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash

All rise like the sun shines
Bright in the beautiful morning,
There’s an Amber Alert,
Lady Justice’s virtue is missing,
I’m mourning
Exposing systematic discrepancies
Need more boring,
The district attorney’s victories keep soaring,
While a greater percentage
of government resources is pouring,
Into the coffers of the prosecution
No bullets in my public pretenders gun,
Certain execution,
They think it’s cute when,
Society’s glass ceilings make me depend,
A 400-year head start,
No swimming lessons,
Dropped off in the deep end,
My “peers” in the jury sing,
Sink friend,
Silk black robe of the plantation master laughin’,
Heart cold like Aspen,
I’m danglin’, gaspin’
Need more than an aspirin,
family strong
I know it’s a mask, and
The cruelest part
All this pain would depart,
If i could afford to depart
With a hundred thousand “dead presidents”
for an attorney with no heart
which would give
The prostitute Lady Justice
a jumpstart!

A note from the poet:

This poem highlights my experience in the criminal justice system. I got into a fight and broke a man’s glasses. They offered me 32 months. I declined their offer and was punished in trial for it. I received 16 years 4 months for the same crime they offered me 32 months for. My story is not rare. The policing is heavy in areas where total income is low, when we end up in a criminal justice system that only respects money, we end up with an overworked public defender. This system needs to be overhauled!

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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John Warren Hines I

John Warren Hines I is a writer, activist and a spoken word artist. He holds an associate degree and is working to create a non-profit organization called Prisoners Key that would help incarcerated parents enroll in educational programs. He has been incarcerated since 2012 on a 16-year-four-month sentence.