A Prisoner's Plea

I am a gay 38 year old lifer without parole, originally from Chicago, IL. I have been serving this sentence since June 8, 1994. I am regrettably guilty of the senseless, heinous homicide I was charged with 9 days before my 19th birthday. I’d been in and out of mental health hospitals, juvenile detention, foster care, and treatment centers since age 10. I grew up in the housing projects on Chicago’s Southside. Violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, gangs, crime, child abuse (physical and sexual), poverty, etc. were all things I grew up believing were normal. The combination of this environment as well as my volatile home life made for a pretty combustible future for me. In retrospect, it’s no wonder I ended up in prison for the rest of my life.
Restorative justice does not exist in America. So, although I have changed in the last 19 years, it is still a fact that I’ll die here. Regardless what I may have to offer the youth and others who are struggling- as I did- in ghetto’s across America.
This slow death sentence sometimes overwhelms me. I know I earned consequences by taking a life, but that realization doesn’t negate the very real difficulty that comes along with waking up every day and knowing I will grow elderly and perish in the prison healthcare building.
My immediate family suffers as well. Visitation is rare and the “monopolized & gangsterized” prison phone industry has made it very costly to call home collect. Companies routinely exploit our necessity for familial interaction by charging ridiculously high amounts for collect phone call services.
Prison is such a depressing, apathetic, depraved, desolate environment. It will rob you of your humanity and your drive for life (if you aren’t careful). Daily I watch men go insane or become the victim of a hurting predator looking for his own relief/salve through the pain of another. It’s a sick place. They pass out psychotropic meds with increasing regularity throughout these prisons. They have become the new asylums.
For those of you out there who care- please reach into prison and try to befriend an incarcerated gal or guy. Drop ’em a line. Also, get involved. Demand that legislators try and put an end to this prison industry. 2.3 Million people are locked up in America. That’s a sad commentary on us all. Address poverty and joblessness and watch crime rates drop.
God bless you all and thanks for your time.
In Solidarity,
Mr. Patrice D., Illinois

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