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The US prison system has done unimaginable damage to humanity

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 a prominent 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 it’s issues. In dealing with mass incarceration and our criminal justice 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 can not defend yourself. I thought that if I told the truth that maybe it would be set free.

by MaryEllen Mark
by MaryEllen Mark

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

But even worse was realizing that justice didn’t exist. That equity is a figment of man’s vain imagination. That 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 has showen me.

After being in prison 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. Succomb 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


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