First, before I take you, the reader, on this journey of the untold truth regarding this incarcerated voice, I would like to say: “Each one, teach one,” and everybody needs somebody in this lifetime to extend their helping hand to those in need…
I am an incarcerated voice that goes by the name Jackson Pey. Within these walls, some call me HP, andmost call me Chuck. My full name is Charles Anthony Jackson Jr. I was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised on the stomping grounds of Highland Park, Michigan. My upbringing was not typical for the motor city area. There were guns, gambling, and my only mentors were gangsters, goons, and thugs. My parents both had addiction struggles, and did not intend to have me. My mother left me to be raised by my father and his family. I was cared for by a sitter and my grandparents, while my father provided for me through various blue-collar jobs and welfare. I had what I needed, but not what I wanted. I was jealous of what the other kids had at school, that my family could not afford. So, I started selling drugs at the age of 11. My employer did not mind my age, and only cared whether I could make him money. I did and I made myself a fair amount too. I bought my first pair of Nikes, which made it all feel worth it then. But I was growing up too fast, and I later learned that I missed out on my childhood. I was running with people twice my age, and getting myself involved in shootings, beatings, and a number of other crimes. I was with people who would kill me for nothing, and without a thought. Eventually, I was arrested for armed robbery, but the charges were dropped because I was only 16. I didn’t do anything differently after that, so I was arrested three years later, and sentenced to a year in jail. After that, I really tried to clean up my act so I could avoid being locked up again. But I was greedy, and wanted more than I could get through legal means. When I was 26, I was convicted of felony murder and armed robbery. The jury sentenced me to life without parole after only an hour of deliberations. After I was sentenced, I was able to tell the victim’s family about my guilt and regret. They also got a chance to tell me about their grief and hate for me. I felt so alone at that moment, as none of my family had come to the court. I was alone with my regret and terrible guilt. I could not accept my fate for a long time. I used the medication of other inmates, and homemade alcohol from orange juice to avoid my reality. I was moved to a temporary holding facility where I was given a uniform and a number. The people there were like zombies. I tried to become one by getting sleeping medication, but I failed to put on a good enough show for the psychologist. After 45 days, I was moved to a level 4 facility known as St. Louis Correctional Facility. That is when I finally understood my situation and knew that something had to give. I wanted to change for the better, but prison had just as much crime and gangs as the outside. No one had been sentenced to death, and yet people were killed all the time in an endless cycle of violence. I didn’t know how to stay safe and not get involved in the gang wars. There was nothing to help us rehabilitate ourselves, rather prison is used to break us. They do this to justify their own existence. They don’t release the prisoners that have been crime free in prison for ten years, and who took classes, and bettered themselves. They release the violent prisoners, who they know will be back in jail soon enough. Then they can say how the system is broken. I started to realize all of this while fighting my appeals, and I knew I needed to learn even more about the system. As it turns out, life sentences were never meant to be carried out. Prisoners were supposed to be let out after ten years if they behaved well. Judges knew this, and gave prisoners long sentences, rather than life sentences to ensure they would serve more than ten years. Prisoners would be interviewed by the parole board after their first 7 years, then again three years later, then again every year after that. This was to aid in getting the prisoners out sooner rather than later who deserved it. It doesn’t work that way anymore. Now they only interview prisoners after ten years, and it is at their discretion on whether the prisoners will get to interview again. They decided not to interview practically everyone. Because of this broken system, I know it is my responsibility to help youth avoid falling into the same path that I did. I am now 35 years old, and I try to help the younger prisoners serving short sentences to understand that they need to change. I realized how to avoid the violence, by finding like minded individuals and supporting each other. Family support is also valuable. If you have a family member or a friend behind bars, then I encourage you to reach out. Even just a letter can go a long way to direct them onto the right path and to keep hope. Hopefully, my family will consider visiting me now that I am only an hour away in my current facility. Do not neglect those you love, because you never know where you will be, and if you will need help back one day. I know I need to use my voice from inside these walls to send out that message.
Like many men in life, I was claiming to be something I wasn’t. I became tired of my mental state, and submitted myself to a higher power. I went from having a criminal mindset to being an educational mentor, and a seeker of knowledge. If I am going to spend the rest of my existence in these walls, then my job is to continue my duties to fellow mankind. I have taken you on a journey, my journey, and I hope you find time to understand that nobody is perfect. We all have done something we’re not proud of and things we truly regret. Some people have done the unthinkable and will have to live with the reality of poor decision making such as myself. I have been called unredeemable, convict, murder, and a dead man walking, but none of those names fit the man I have become. I am a fearless trailblazer, leader, co-author, thinker of righteous thoughts, and a man in service of others. I look forward to what my future holds, but my main focus is taking one day at a time, and using it to uplift others. This incarcerated voice is still a human and I pray my words will be genuinely valued. Reach out to those you love, and have love for within the prison system. Reach out to a young’n you know is headed down the wrong path and show them you care and the truth I have told in my story. You have just encountered the untold truth of this incarcerated voice. Prison was my graveyard, but the power of my thoughts turned prison into my university.