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Line drawing of a group of people with their arms around each other's shoulders.
Line illustration by Tetiana Garkusha on iStock

A love I never had, never thought my older cellie
Would be the one who I call dad.
Never accepted by my sister or my brother,
A missing love came from a prison nurse who made me feel
Like I now have a loving mother.

Never ate at tables with my blood kin,
Never had relatives to check on me, who care,
Family on the streets was just a dream.
Living together with fellow inmates caused us to build a team.
The embraces I experience from inmates and staff
Created a new reality, my real family is the one that I now have.

It’s sad but true, I wish society could see what I see,
I feel more accepted from behind the walls, than I felt
When I was free.
No love, no hugs, none of the above, on the streets
My life was put on pause, and it saddens me that I never
Really had a life until I connected with
The created family from behind the walls.

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.

Quincy Jones is a writer incarcerated in Virginia.