The realities faced by people who are serving long sentences are often misunderstood. Gain a deeper understanding of their experiences through these essential ideas.
How did we get here?
Each of us followed our own path to prison. While there may be similarities in some cases, each case is unique. If we are ever going to end mass incarceration, we need to understand what leads to incarceration. And, we need to consider what we can do as individuals and as members of society to change those trajectories. Let us tell you how we got here.
What did we find when we got to prison?
The prison experience is different for everyone. It is influenced by factors such as one’s personality, abilities and/or disabilities, support or lack of support, and access to programming or denial of programming. If we insist on locking people up, we owe it to ourselves to consider how to make that experience as fruitful as possible. Let us tell you about our experiences in the Michigan Department of Corrections.
We are not just people who have been convicted of a crime. And, we don’t want you to measure us only by the worst thing we’ve ever done. Many of us are very creative, inventive, imaginative, and talented. Let us share those talents with you.
We are not who we were when we were convicted.
Some of us came to prison when we were very young; others when we were older. In many cases, we have changed a great deal. That may be the result of participation in programming, self-study, mentor(s), supportive family or friends, or just the impact of aging. Let us describe the changes as we understand them.
The changes we’d like to see.
Many of us have been here for a long time. We’ve seen changes in the system – and we’ve identified changes we would like to see in the system. Let us tell you what we think should be changed.
Of course, we dream of being released some day.
The thought of leaving prison after a long period of incarceration can be both exciting and frightening. Most of us can’t help but think about it. Let us share our dreams and fears.