I am a Virginia incarcerated member who has been housed within the VDOC for 17 years. I have read your newsletter concerning the mass incarceration in Virginia conference call. There were numerous concerns discussed, and one in particular was Lillie “Ms. K” Branch concern with the lack of support from family members that have incarcerated loved ones. In, or between the years 2008 and 2009, in support of Ms. K’s rally for signatures to have certain bills passed in the Virginia General Assembly. Two brothers, as well as myself, campaigned individuals at Keen Mountain Correctional Center to send a letter that was drafted by the three of us addressing the importance of our family members helping Ms. K address the Virginia General Assembly concerning prison reform. We even went as far as purchasing stamps to send these letters out to their loved ones. Needless to say, the lack of family support in regard to this issue is still ongoing. The reasons can be numerous to account for in one letter. The question is, “Is injustice being seen and heard everywhere?” And if it is, which I do think it is, then why is it that the politicians are still turning a blind eye to what the people want as far as prison reform? Its been my experience while in the VDOC that people on the inside, and out has developed an anti-prisoner mentality, given the elements that comprise a prison setting ( i.e. murderers, rapist,robbers, and drug dealers). And there has been a large focus on recidivism and very little is reported on those whom have reformed themselves and become valuable assets to their communities upon being released. And this is not just accounting for Virginia Prison System, it is nationwide. There needs to be some type of balance where the negative stigma of prisoners does not overshadow positive demonstrations by those whom have actually changed their lives for the better. As far the saying goes, “Just because one is convicted of a crime does not make him a criminal.” These people are the best example to put forth to our loved ones to educate them about those needing a chance at society once again. Those who are actually showing and proving through their actions and deeds in their communities. The mind set has been, “lock them up and throw away the key.” But what about lock them up, but give them a chance if they are willing to show that they deserve a chance. I think (I know) that what this and other organizations on prison reform is striving to accomplish is great and I want to assist in that process as much as I am able.
Prince Just Foundation Allah