Posts tagged "prison"
Lost Decades

Lost Decades

This week the magazine is featuring a trio of articles about prisons, real and psychological. In Freed, but Scarred, Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald describes the post-prison lives of three men who spent, among them, forty-three years in New York penitentiaries for crimes they did not commit. In an accompanying photo essay, Life after Innocence, Dana Ullman presents intimate portraits of the three men and their families, still scarred by absences and regrets. Finally, in Across Oceans, Haunted by Memories, Susan M. Lee reviews the novel "The Reeducation of Cherry Truong," a tale of two Vietnamese families flung across the globe, chased by their war-era remembrances of traumas endured and wrongs perpetrated — at times, on each other.

Life after Innocence

Life after Innocence

Among them, Jeffrey Deskovic, Kian Khatibi, and Fernando Bermudez spent forty-three years in New York prisons. All were eventually exonerated—freed by DNA evidence, confessions, and recanted testimony. Their photos before and after incarceration speak to lives transformed, years lost.

Freed, but Scarred

Freed, but Scarred

Best of In The Fray 2012. When he is feeling overwhelmed, Fernando Bermudez lies down in his son’s bedroom. After spending eighteen years in prison for a murder he did not commit, he finds the confined space soothing. For exonerated prisoners like Bermudez, the struggle to rebuild their lives goes on, long after the reporters and cameras are gone.

Gender Outlaws

Gender Outlaws

Best of In The Fray 2005. Transgender prisoners face discrimination, harassment, and abuse above and beyond that of the traditional male and female prison population.

Freedom, Deferred

Freedom, Deferred

Best of In The Fray 2002. Ibn Kenyatta is a writer and artist—and a perpetual prisoner.

“I Stand on My Conscience”

Statement of February 25, 1999, which ibn Kenyatta attempted to present to commissioners of the New York State Division of Parole: Parole Commissioners: A free man in chains. A free man defined by the bars, steel and cages of the New York State prison system. For ten long years i have turned my back on your parole system. Refused to get down on my knees and beg for what is already mine. There are those among you who say i am crazy. That such a position requires the attention of the state’s most clever psychiatrists. But what would they find, my friends? And what they find, would they then tell that truth to the world? That i am a man, an Afrikan man, who is determined to stand tall on the firm ground of what i know to be right and truth. i stand on my conscience. You may be puzzled why i call you “my friends.” i do so because we are here together facing a crisis. That dramatic shift in our national economy some years ago so that people of color are now most hard-hit … —by industry bailing out and going overseas, what they call “capital flight” […]

Before the Commissioners

The following is a transcript of the Kenyatta’s appearance before the New York State parole board on February 25, 1999: STATE OF NEW YORK EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT DIVISION OF PAROLE ———————————————————————————- In the Matter of IBN KENYATTA INST. # 74-A-3701 NYSID ————- ———————————————————————————- TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS at a hearing held in the above-entitled matter by the State of New York Executive Department, Division of Parole, on the 25th day of February, 1999, Fishkill Correctional Facility General, Fishkill, New York. BEFORE: COMMISSIONER VANESSA A. CLARKE COMMISIONER MARIETTA S. GAILOR PRESENT: ALEXANDER YANUKLIS, S.P.O. EDAPPARA MATHEWS, F.P.O. I ROBERT MROCZEK, F.P.O. I LINDA W. WHITMORE COURT STENOGRAPHER Q: You are Ibn Kenyatta? A: Yes. Q: Mr. Kenyatta, I am Commissioner Gailor. With me today is Commissioner Clarke. COMMISSIONER CLARKE: Good morning to you. THE INMATE: How are you doing? COMMISSIONER CLARKE: All right. Q: You are reappearing before the Parole Board serving a 15-year-to-life term for attempted murder, A-1, and a seven-year definite term for criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree; is that correct? A: Yes. That’s right. Q: You were found guilty of these offenses after trial. A: Yes. I was found guilty. Q: Did you appeal these decisions? […]

Parole Refusal

Parole boards across the nation routinely refuse parole to prisoners, but prisoners rarely refuse parole when it’s offered. There are cases on record, however: In Colorado in 1996 and 1997, more than 2,500 prisoners refused to attend parole hearings to protest what they considered harsh parole guidelines. Often prisoners choose to serve their maximum sentence rather than be subject to parole supervision. (With a five-to-ten-year sentence, for example, they would prefer to serve the full ten years rather than accept parole and be out on the streets after five.) These examples amount primarily to silent protests behind the scenes, and on many occasions involve individuals who maintain their innocence. Go back to Freedom, Deferred.

Kenyatta’s Artwork

I have always been interested in ibn Kenyatta’s artwork and poetry. They help me grasp, in small measure, his perspective and experience of living in a black skin. In his view, race was merely a matter of which of us was sprinkled with the most pigment at birth. Throughout his prison years Kenyatta has used his art, writing, and other creative pursuits as a distinctive form of commentary, one filtered through the prison experience. Both his drawings and poetry address the human condition, oppression, and the power of the individual in social change. Curators of his works use “social justice themes” when describing his art. For example, “The Judicial Lynchin of Eve” is a 24 x 28 charcoal drawing of a silhouetted young African American girl, Eve Postell. In 1978, at age fourteen, she was sentenced to 114 years in prison for murder. The image includes prison bars, shackles, and an earring forming the letters 114. A drawing of the late Billie Holiday has the lyrics to her song “God Bless the Child” sketched over her beautiful, ravaged face. A 1979 drawing of Safiya, “Black Graffiti,” includes dozens of “terms of endearments” surrounding her face. Go back to Freedom, Deferred.

Letter from ibn Kenyatta to Marguerite Kearns

"… it was a special day. i had gone to the library on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn where i often went durin the week to study. it wasn't far from our apartment. on this particular day back on 29 January 1974, the whole day seemed strange."