Fella’s Prison Penitent

Prison reform has become an issue that no one seems to know exactly how to address. Even I, considering myself as a sensible offender, am not sure how we can solve the issues. Having first-hand experience with the criminal justice and mass incarceration system, I must say, Houston we have a problem

Fella’s Prison Penitent

Nelson Mandela said, “A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones”. I say that’s America’s prisoners.



Prison reform has become an issue that no one seems to know exactly how to address. Even I, considering myself as a sensible offender, am not sure how we can solve the issues. Having first-hand experience with the criminal justice and mass incarceration system, I must say, Houston we have a problem

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I could express my feelings and dealings with the system, but that’s so far removed from penitent or the penitentiary. Simply, we have a system where double standards are common and to be criminal only means you cannot defend yourself. I thought that if I told the truth that maybe I would be set free.

by MaryEllen Mark
by MaryEllen Mark

After being denied the opportunity to have a well-composed defense lawyer or the documents to prove my self innocent…
I became bitter, hateful and hurt…
like no one cared…

But even worse was realizing that justice didn’t exist. Equality is a figment of man’s vain imagination. All men were created, criminal. That the only thing that made me different was that I was dumb enuff to get caught. At least that’s what prison is showing me.

After being in prison for six years, I can confirm that power unchecked corrupts absolutely. Every layer of our justice system is a web of oppression and corruption. If I do not continue to educate myself, I will be doomed. Succumb to a system that turns man into beast. So, I am picking up a book to know thy self.

Rich Fella

  • Painting a
    Juvenile Detention
    With Light
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    Read the post

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Photographer Richard Ross’s essay Life After Prison shows the struggle to return to the outside world. Also check out the online magazine Juvenile in Justice.


| Written by Willie McDowell 01997735
| Visuals by Mary Ellen Mark @MaryEllen_Mark, Brook Pete @brookpete, NYTimes.com Focusing on Prison Photography, Richard Ross @juvenileinjust, @The Atlantic, vlog Brothers