Parole Board Letter Exampl
Dear Shakir, Can you give me any advice on writing effective letters of recommendation for my friend who is going to be up for his first parole in November? He will at that time have served 10 months of a 3 year sentence. He has been a model prisoner while incarcerated, as well as been going to school and church regularly. I am in a position to offer him some limited support through employment, and a home until he is able to get back on his feet, although this probably won't be necessary since he has a large and supportive family in our city, and he will have numerous job offers from past employers who welcome his return. I can also reliably help get him to his parole officer, classes, etc., as may be necessary upon his release. His sentence was the result of probation violation, from charges stemming from a fight he was involved in when he was 17. He is now 22. Texas is the state of his crime and incarceration. Any advice you may have will be very much appreciated.

Below is an example of a letter to the parole board. It should be short and to the point. Good luck
Dear Members of the Parole Board;

My name is (your name), and I am writing on behalf of my friend/husband, (inmates name and number), who is current incarcerated at prison name).
I wish to ask that you grant him parole when he comes before you in the near future. I understand that my friend/husband made a terrible mistake that resulted in the tragic death of a little girl. (Friend name) has always been like a part of our family and I know he is a good person. I do not think that you will regret it if you grant him parole. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely yours,
(sign your name)


Shakir, I am a 35 year old teacher from an urban setting. I recently met a man who is on Parole for destruction of police/fire property. He had a prior conviction and has spent 8 of the last 11 years in prison. I am getting to know him, and plan on taking things slow. My problem is that my sister is a Corrections officer and her boyfriend a police detective. While this man's past is his business, our state has an offender search and he is on the website, listing him as being on parole. He is a nice guy and has treated me with respect. He has the two teardrop tattoo on his cheek and this may pose a problem if we do get serious. He is not currently in a gang, and I have a hard time believing this guy killed anyone. He did not do any time for murder or any violent crimes (unlawfully driving away in a vehicle, receiving stolen property and the fire/police destruction of property). He has served 4 years for each (two were concurrent). My family is very law abiding and would have a problem with this guy if they know he's been in the system. It's a sure give away with the tattoos. I also have a 15 year old son who has met him briefly but didn't get close enough o get a good look at his face (my son knows what the tattoos mean). Do I ditch this guy and move on, or see where it takes us and ask him, if things get serious if he'd get the tats removed and just hide it from my family? He has another 2 years on parole........I like him, would love to get to know him, and he me......but I'm in a bind........I don't want to lose my family over this. I already had a marriage to an excon and they disowned me until I got rid of him (he was an abuser). Is there any way I can get transcripts of this guy's court proceedings? I live in Michigan..any advice?

Dear Michigan, My first question is, why would you have to ask him to get the tattoos removed from his face? He isn't already in the process of having them removed? Your man committed to a gangster/thug lifestyle when he had those tattoos put on his face. Any man serious about changing his life would not have to be "asked" or "told" to have them removed. The website is the least of the problem. Anyone who looks in his face and sees those teardrops will know what he is about. It's up to you whether you "ditch" this guy or not, but my advise is that you take it real slow with this person before you start bringing him around your loved-ones and getting too caught up. Good luck. Peace. Shakir

Boyfriend's PO Has No Respect

Dear Shakir, My son's father is on parole and lives with me. Recently his parole officer obtained a key to our apartment from the apartment managers and let himself into our home. His excuse to the managers was that my son's father is hard to wake up. I feel he had no right accessing our home like this, especially since he did not even know if anyone was home at the time. I have spoken to his supervisor regarding the issue and he stated the parole officer clearly overstepped his boundaries, but the excuse for entering our home to his supervisor was that it was a safety issue. A week and a half before he entered our home my son's father and I had gotten in an argument and I put him out of my home. That morning I left a message for his parole officer stating he no longer lived there. Two days later he moved back in and we never heard from his officer until this incident. He never once called my home or work to find out if my son's father had moved or was back in the home, so as far as he knew there was no longer a parole in the home and he took it upon himself to enter the home of a private citizen. My son, his father, and I live in a very crowded one bedroom apartment and have a LOT of clothes. On top of that I work six days out of the week to support our family since my son's father does not work. He came by the house on a Thursday, Friday being my only day off during the week is laundry day, so when he came by the house the were a lot of clothes on the floor. He stated that if my home was not clean by the next week he had no problem putting my son's father back in jail and calling Child Protective Services to come and get my son. His supervisor also agreed that he overstepped his boundaries on this issue and that he had no right to threaten me or my son. While his supervisor is in agreement that the officer is in the wrong he has done nothing to rectify the situation. We have asked for a change of officer and he stated that this is only done in rare cases where there is a personal conflict between the offi conflict between all involved. My son's father has had this parole officer since April of 1999 and will not be released until April of 2003, he has been violated by this officer three times since 1999, once because he was homeless his parole officer said he would give him an address and sure enough did when he sent him back to prison. Do you know of any actions we can take to try and have his officer changed? I am considering going over his supervisor and filing a complaint with the state board since his supervisor does not seem to think this a serious enough issue. I do not know a lot about the parole system and am not sure of our rights. I'm not sure how much you know about the California parole system but if you can advise us on some of our rights it would be very much appreciate. Thank you. RR

Dear RR, A parole officer has a right to enter - and search - your apartment anytime he wants to, as long as there is a parolee living there. The PO doesn't need a warrant, either. Trying to fight the parole system will only cause you a lot of grief. How do you know that the next PO will not be a bigger jerk than this one? The best thing for your man to do is to walk a straight line until he is off parole. Living well is the best revenge!  P.S., You start calling the PO whenever you are angry with your man and you will both pay the consequences in the long run Work your problems out and leave the law out of it, unless you feel that you or you child is threatened. Good luck. Shakir

Who's Zoomi'n Who?

Dear Shakir:
I found your site when I was looking to any information I could find about Arkansas Post Prison Transfer Boards or laws inside the prison systems. I must say you sure tell it like it is. I am glad because that is what I need right now someone that can tell me what they think honestly. Ok, here goes my husband is in prison in the state of Arkansas he has been in on a 6 month parole violation (for leaving the state without permission, he was working driving a truck and making money legally for his daughter and I) for 8 months now the first 2 months he sat at the county jail awaiting a parole hearing when he got the hearing they gave him the 6 month violation but...they did not count the 2 months he had been sitting waiting. Anyway he was finally sent from the county jail to one of the state prisons. I am not sure about the state you are in but in Arkansas Prisons Cigarettes are contraband (which I think is STUPID) so automatically that causes a problem for anyone that smokes and as I am sure you know there are ways to get things that are illegal if you really want it. He is a smoker and has been for years so he wanted cigarettes and he got them well the bad part is he got caught and he went before the disciplinary court they gave him 30 days in the hole which means no phone privileges or visits. Well he did the 30 days in the hole and of course as soon as he got out of the hole he called me to talk we were talking and he was telling me everything that happened and while we were on the phone he mentioned that the guy that he had gotten the cigarettes from was giving him some heat because he had not been able to pay him since he had been in the hole, so he asked me would I send the guy the money on his books. I said yes of course so we could put all this behind us and start fresh and just worry about him getting home. I did not think there was anything wrong with what we had discussed. Well the next day I waited for him to call me and he never did I really started to worry because he always calls when he said he was going to the next day I decided to inform his mother of what was said on the phone and all so she called down to the prison and they told her that he was back in the hole for coercing me on the phone to send money for more cigarettes. I was shocked he explained to them that he was trying to get this settled and put behind him but they were not listening so then he goes before the disciplinary court again and they give him 30 more days in the hole for this. I was shocked because I did not think anything was illegal about our conversation but the prisons I have learned can do whatever they want and get away with it. Anyway they moved him from that unit to another one and took my visitation rights away from me because of the phone conversation, which I think is totally WRONG. So now he is moved to a different facility and he is put in population there and not in the hole but he still does not have phone privileges so we can only communicate by mail the first weekend that was open for a visit his mother went to see him and he was doing good she said he said he felt like he was going to have a fresh start at this facility and maybe he could get his class back before he went before the Parole Board which here it is required you be a class 2 before the parole board will even look at you and with everything that happened he was a class 4 and that is as low as he can go, so everything is looking good and we are trying to get excited about him coming home in hopefully a few more months and then the craziest thing that could ever happen happened someone sent him some mail that had an illegal drug in it. My husband never seen the drug or the mail that it came in and I know he did not have anything to do with it he is not perfect by know means but I know he was to excited about finally going to get to start working on coming home he thinks it was the guy that he owed the money to at the other unit. Which to me is not to far fetched. My husband has done drugs in the past but I know he was not doing them now because of what has been going on. He requested them to give him a urine test and they did and he passed 2 times, with this happening he then had to go before the disciplinary court at the new unit and guess what they gave him 30 days in the hole again! The bad thing about it is they told him and put in his file that they think his wife (ME) did this. I am so MAD because I would NEVER do anything like this but they said because of the past experience at the other unit with the phone conversation they just figured it was me. I am not in prison and I know I do have rights and I am just not real sure what to do. The warden at this unit went as far as to tell my mother-in-law that they thought it was me and they had a good set of prints on the envelope I said GOOD check them please because I know I had nothing to do with this. Should I get an attorney involved? They have not gave him another charge but they gave him this disciplinary but he has it in appeal right now but...if the appeal does not work and he ever gets a chance to go before the parole board and they see all this he will automatically get denied parole for a year or more. Since this happened they have moved him to another unit where they have him doing this 30 days in the hole now. I know he is innocent I have no doubts in my mind over this but I do not know where to go or who to talk to get this all straight. The one thing that gets me is I know they read our mail they listen to our phone conversations but as soon as my husband got put in the hole for this bogus charge a guy from there sent me a letter to let me know and my husband has not been there long enough to make friends so how did this guy get my address so quick and why would the prison let a letter from him get to me if I am the one they think done this? I feel like it was a TOTAL set up. NO Doubt in my mind. Can you please advise me on this? I know you may not know Arkansas laws but maybe you can offer me some suggestions. Myself and my family would really appreciate it. His first time in was in 98 and he came out of a boot camp program within the same year now it is 2002 so we have dealt with the prison system before but this time. It just seems like a nightmare or something you would see on TV. It is crazy! I love my husband very much and I will always support him no matter what and if there is anyone out there that has doubts about why you stay with a person that is incarcerated if you truly love someone it shouldn't matter because normally they are the same person in there as they are out sometimes they just have to act a little different in there to make it. I thank you for your help in advance. I look forward to hearing from you. God Bless you all!! signed DM

Dear DM,
It sound like your husband is setting up himself (and you also), by getting caught up in nonsense that he should not be involved with. Leaving the state while on parole, getting involved with jailhouse borrowing, possessing contraband cigarettes. Then he tries to get you to send money to another inmates account. I would bet that's probably only the tip of the iceberg. Your husband has been around and he knows the consequences of his decisions. He needs to take a look at how he is living, on the streets and in the joint. I think you know what's going on. As far as buying a lawyer, save your money. It would be a lot cheaper if your husband started making more responsible decisions. Good luck. Be Blessed. Shakir

Suspicious of Friend's ExCon Sister

Hi, Shakir,
I have a friend whose sister has spent 5 years in prison on accessory to attempted murder charges. Her 5 year sentence is finished Feb. 16, and her family is going to the New Mexico prison to hear if she'll be granted parole. She supposedly has been a model prisoner, but having dated an ex-convict myself, I am worried that the stuff she feeds her family and the guards is b.s. She is telling them she may get to go home to Colorado with her family on Feb. 16. Would the system let someone like her slip through its fingers like that? I am hoping they will hang on to her for a while before granting parole... what is the average time a prisoner must wait to be granted parole once their sentence is up? She was given a 5-year sentence with the possiblity of doing 15 years. I am really worried...I know how exconvicts can be, and I have another friend who writes this girl letters and acts like he's in love with her, even though he's done nothing more than visit her in prison for the past few months. Please advise... thanks. TLM

Dear TLM,, Why are you so suspicious about this person? Do you have some inside information about what her true intentions are when she gets out? If she. has done her time why do you say the system is "...let someone like that slip through it's fingers"? Sounds like you have some personal issues with excons. I take it that the "dating" experience you had with your excon did not work out. Anyway, each state has a different system of parole and post-release supervision. Many states don't have parole and inmates must serve their entire sentence before getting release. Usually minus time for good behavior. If she has parole/post-incarceration obligations, it is possible to have her supervision transferred to Colorado to live with her parents. If she has done her entire sentence she can go wherever she wants to. Take care. Shakir

A Mother's Pain ll

Dear Shakir,
I read the letter on your site from the mother of a 21 year old. It breaks my heart. My 24 year old son is in a Texas state prison. Upon completing his intake and being put in population, he was approached by a gang member who accused him of stealing his pen. My son was then asked for commissary funds. I don't know the particulars, but according to my son, someone had told him that if he stood up to them, they'd see he wasn't a pushover and probably leave him alone So----when he was asked to move to the other side of the room away from the security camera to settle this dispute, my son punched the guy. So now within 2 days of being in regular population, he has a case for fighting and will have a hearing. Then he heard inmate talk of jumping him, so he requested protection and was placed in segregation where he said he got the best nights sleep since he got there. He's scared to death. He was told at he hearing basically that they think he threw the first punch and since according to them, there was never an assault on him, that they didn't think they could keep him in segregation and once put back in population, the only way he could get back in segregation is if someone beats him up and he turns in names. He told them he wasn't there to make friends and all he had was bunk numbers which he gave them, but it did no good. He is currently working on trying to get some of his back time from county jail that he didn't get credit for--2 1/2 months and all he got credit for was 13 days. He is also trying to get put into "therapeutic community" unit and he's applying for "shock probation." Since his hearing he looked in the handbook for hearings and learned that he was supposed to have council at his hearing which he didn't have. One captain told him that she felt they had done him wrong and she requested that he be left in segregation for further investigation. He is scared to death of being put back in population. I realize that there may be some stuff that I don't know about the situation or things I don't understand about how things work, and I completely understand why he is there; but I am afraid for his safety and I don't know what to do. Will the warden talk to me about it if I call there? I just can't see the benefit of my son having to deal with type of behavior there. If he were outside and involved in illegal gang activity, he would be arrested. But, the prison excuse is that this is prison life; that type of thing just goes on here. What is that teaching them; that they can be involved in gang activity while in prison; if ya can't beat them join them or what? He was sentenced for 9 months--which isn't an awfully long time, but he's scared to death and doesn't know what to do either. Can you offer any help or advice? He is also studying the bible and going to anger management classes. He has learned his lesson and just wants to come home where it's safe and start his life over.
Thanks a million for your time and consideration.

Dear LM, I feel your pain and I understand your concern for your son's well-being, however I am sure your son will find a way to survive and take care of himself. The warden may or may not speak to you but, I doubt it. It can't hurt to call and write letters on a regular basis to let them know that your son has someone responsible looking out for him on the outside. Just remember that every guy in the joint is someone's baby. the important thing is that your son takes heed and does what it takes not to go back when he gets out. Take care and good luck. Shakir

A Mother's Pain

Dear Shakir,
I was just reading all the moving letters on your website. I wish my son, who is in a NJ County prison (until transfer to state) could have access to
your site. unfortunately, my son, who is now 21, was arrested last year for selling marijuana in a school zone. this was not intentional selling to minors; it happened that the house he was living in at the time was in a school zone, as are most properties in the town I live in. I feel guilty sometimes because he would not have been selling in that house if I had not thrown him out of my house. you have to understand, I am a loving mother, and I love my son and my other two younger children with all my heart. I couldn't stand by and let him ruin his life and I knew that he was selling out of my house and I had asked him to stop several times without any luck. he always told me he wasn't but I found that he was. so push came to shove and he was asked to leave before our house got raided and I lost my job in NJ schools and my two younger children had to witness it. turns out it was not the right solution to the problem. he moved just next door and when the swat team did come, in full battle gear, we were right there to witness it all. I cried and cried.
Since then, my son was given a plea and able to attend a salvation army rehab as an inpatient (?) for 6 months, before being sentenced last week to a 3
year NJ State prison sentence. he was given a parole possibility date of 9 months, and the 6 months credit for the rehab which he successfully
completed. at that time, although I hated to see him go to prison, I figured well, this may do him some good and it will only be around 3 months. now I'm not so sure. talk about naive!!! he has been calling begging me to find out some way to look into the NJ parole system and tell him what is likely to occur. since he has been there, he has been told by several or possibly many of his fellow inmates, that he will probably remain in the county prison for about 3 months (when he should
be eligible for parole) and then be transferred to a state facility, which I dread, and then remain there for at least 6 months before the parole board
gets around to him. our lawyer, who is a really nice guy, and who got my son what I feel is a
good plea, tells me to tell my son not to believe what he hears in there and to keep bugging the guards or the block sergeant for parole applications. my son tells me that is not the way it works. if he asks, they tell him its not our job and that the parole board will come to you when they are ready. he is absolutely terrified of going to a state prison. he is only 21 and never been in trouble before. he went into this plea believing what he was told: that he would be paroled after 3 months if he maintained good behavior, since
he was given the credit off the 9 month eligibility date for the rehab he completed. now he does not believe that will happen. I know that you are up on all this stuff, and I would like to know what you
think from your experience and the experiences of others you have heard from. can he even be paroled from a county facility if he has a state prison sentence?
also, do you believe he will actually be paroled in the 3 month time period as we were lead to believe? and finally, how do we go about petitioning the parole board if this does not
occur as it is "supposed" to? I could really use your encouraging words right now. my son could use them even more. he is not a bad kid. he is loving and caring and has always been the easiest one of my children to deal with on a day to day basis (I hope you know what I mean, just easy going, not a snot-nose, you know? and funny as all get out). not that I love him any more than the others, but he has been my friend and not just my child, especially since he has gotten older. I miss him terribly. my two younger daughters miss him almost unbearably, especially my youngest, a 12 year old. I cannot visit as much as I'd like
because visiting hours are only 1-2 PM weekdays. I have to work, I am a single Mom, and my son says he understands that, but I feel bad about it. I
can only take off 1/2 day every 2 weeks or so to visit him. and I haven't seen him yet. we love to hear from him on the telephone when he calls a
couple of times a week, and I worry when I don't hear from him for a couple of days.
I'm not really afraid for him from the other prisoners, he is a big 250 lb +, 6'3", and kind of quiet, until he gets to know you, which some people take as being nasty or disinterested and mostly don't bother with him. so he should
be OK there. actually, his best buds at rehab at the end of the 6 mos, admitted that they were afraid of him when he first arrived there. I found
that extremely funny and so did they after they got to know him. but this may be helpful to him in some ways in prison, do you agree? but I'm not so sure about the guards. I'm not sure how they are.
anyway, I ramble on, but the parole issue is what we need answers to. I thank you so much for listening. I know you hear from lots of people, but I hope you have time to answer my letter, and even if the news is not encouraging, at least it will be the truth, which is so hard to sort out right now.
My heart goes out to all the moms and wives and girlfriends of inmates, and especially the first-timers; I feel their pain and confusion. And I cannot thank you enough for providing this service to those of us who have absolutely no idea what to expect. We are in the dark except for people like
you. Thank you so much. Pray for us all, as I am, yours, JoAnn

Dear Joann, Thank you for your letter. My heart is with you and all the folks doing time with a loved one who is in prison.
However, the guards are right, the parole board knows when it's time for your son's parole hearing. The board tends to get backed up, so exactly when he will have his hearing is another story.
The time he spends in the county jail usually counts toward his sentence. It is also common for inmates to do state time in the county jail. There are also several less severe prisons in the state that a guy his age might be sent to do his time. There is even the possibility of a halfway house.
It sounds to me that you did what you had to do to protect yourself and your other children, when you asked your son to choose between living in your home and selling drugs. He made his choice and he has to live with the consequences. Unfortunately, you also suffer because, after all, he is still your child.
You shouldn't be so hard on yourself because you have to work, or because you are just too tired, and you can't trek to the prison to see him every weekend. The more he misses you the more he'll learn to appreciate it when he is with you. (at least that 's the theory). And limit those expensive collect call, too. Tell him to write more letters.
Anyway, at 6' 3" , 250 lbs, he ain't no baby. He'll be all right and so will you. Your son is lucky to have a mother like you. Hopefully he will realize it and make you proud one day. Good luck. Stay in touch. Shakir


"Could my soul mate be an inmate?"
Dear Shakir: One year ago after watching the movie "The Hurricane" I decided to perform an online search for wrongly imprisoned inmates. To my surprise many prison pen pal sites popped up on my screen. Out of curiosity I decided to click on a site called "Brothers Behind Bars." Once I did I quickly browsed through the inmates profiles and glanced at their photos. Just when I'd had enough I positioned my cursor to exit the site. Just as did I notice that there was one last name I had not browsed, so I said "Why not?." When I clicked on this young black man, I could not see his photo as I could all the rest. I still read his profile anyway. He stated that he was a born again Christian and shared many things in common with me. He was looking for a female friend and I fitted many of the qualities he was searching for. So I decided to e-mail him to say hello. A week or two later he wrote me back. We developed a wonderful friendship through our letters. It was truly like "Love at first WRITE!" Needless to say, we have fallen in love and would like to get married. Many people don't understand how we could be in love without ever actually meeting but I know what we feel is real. It's been a whole year now and he'll be released next year around July. I'm making plans for my first visit next month. Am I crazy for wanting to marry an inmate? Do you feel we should wait or do you feel we can begin and achieve a successful life together once he's released? Everything is going fine between us but what is your advice? I really would love to help him get on his feet and I've read he horror stories about inmates once they're released. Could my soul mate be an inmate? Or is this a fantasy? Betty

Dear Betty, I am always amazed (and concerned) when a woman tells me that she is planning to marry a man that she met in prison. I like a happy ending fairy tale as much as the next guy, but the odds for the two of you living happily ever after are not in your favor. Your inmate is going to have enough problems adjusting to life after prison without the added stress of adapting to a new marriage to a stranger at the same time. Yeah, miracles are possible but I suggest you think this through before it's too late. What kind of research have you done to make sure what he tells you is correct? Be very careful because there are a lot of "Jailhouse Players" in the joint working 3-4-5 women with dreams of marriage at the same time. Write back after your first face-to-face visit with him and let me know how it went. Good luck. Shakir

Dear Shakir , I wrote this poem  for my husband. Feel free to post it on your site, or send it to a prisoner who needs it!"

The Day Jody Came to Visit Me

It was pretty late on a Saturday night, When I heard a knock on my door. I was surprised because since my husband left, I hadn't had visitors before.

I set down the letter I was writing, That's something I do everyday. I opened the door to a strange, dark man. Right then I wasn't sure what to say.

The man leaned close and smiled at me. He said, "I've heard you've been sad and lonely." I smiled because then I recognized him, I answered, "Yes, but my husband is my one and only."
Before the man could even reply, I said, "My husband warned me about you. I know your name is Jody,And your intentions are not true."

Jody smiled slyly but didn't give up, Even though I had called him by name. He actually seemed kind of flattered At the rising amount of his fame.

He told me I was beautiful And what I was suffering wasn't fair. But I didn't fall for one single line. "Jody," I said, "I stay true because I care."

Jody knew he wasn't winning now and he seemed a little shocked. His lines had always worked before, Then he hit me with both guns cocked.

He said, "If your husband loved you, He would have stayed out of trouble. You could see the rage burning in my eyes, And the smirk on Jody's face made my rage double.

"Jody!", I yelled, "How can you dare?" You play on women and manipulate! I knew I had to make this end, And with that thought I did not hesitate.

I ran to my room and grabbed my gun. I always keep it ready. As I pointed it at Jody, My body shook but my hands stayed steady.

I cocked the gun and pointed it right between his legs. I looked right into his shifty eyes I heard Jody begin to beg.

I pulled the trigger and as the bullet flew, I cocked and aimed again. I'm not sure how many bullets I fired but I think it was about ten.

I fired the gun until it was empty and Jody lay dead on the floor. I didn't feel one bit of remorse as I dragged him out the door.

I dug a hole in my own back yard, Mumbling, "A cemeteries too good for you." Jody your days of playing on wives is over because MY love for my husband is true.

When I finished with the dirty work, I stood both feet on the grave. I stomped the dirt with all my might and counted aloud each day.

Each stomp stood for my days alone since my husband was sent away. I thought of all those other wives, And turned to walk away.

As I headed back into my house thought I heard a collective sigh. I'm sure now it was every prisoners heart, at the relief to see Jody finally die.

Every prisoners wife, please be aware! Jody will try to sleep with you while your husband is away. But True Love is never worth that risk, And your husband will be home someday!
K.M...a prisoner's wife.

Dear KM,

Dear Shakir, I am so tired of living like this, where my son's father has been constantly in and out of jail for 8 years. Now he is 24 years old and he has been sentenced to 7 years and is serving it at Garden State Correctional in Yardville. No one understands that me and my son are doing this time with him. Not even he understands. I have suffered so much from one case to the other and my son is 3 and doesn't even know his father. That hurts me so much and I didn't commit a crime. I have spent over $2000 dollars in collect calls, have sent him commissary occasionally and the loss of hope and loneliness that I have endured is overwhelming. We are not together at this point, but I need to find a way to cope with this cause this experience will never go away for me, him and our son. When I tell people my baby daddy is locked down, its so nonchalant and everyday to most people that they don't even ask me if it bothers me or if I'm ok. I'm doing time for a crime I didn't commit and no one understands. Me and my son are alone. Give me some consoling words, please. I dent want to stick by him no more, but he has no one. Thanks D

Hi D., You are absolutely right, you are also doing time for the crimes of your man. Most guys in prison will be the last one to realize the pain and burden that they put on their love ones and many don't care. They don't care because every time they get locked down the same people (usually a women) is there to support him and listen to him whine. All I can say is that feel your pain and I understand your frustration.

You're going to have to make a decision to either stay with this guy or to move on with your life. He has been jailing for a longtime for someone so young, and unless he makes a complete attitude adjustment and properly prepares himself for life after he gets out, you'll be paying those outrageous telephone bill for a long time. It may be different if he was getting busted trying to take care of his family , you, and his baby. But I don't even have to ask because I know that he wasn't taking care of his responsibilities when he was on the street.

You should not feel guilty or obligated to submit yourself and your child to that kind of life style if he chooses to stay lockdown all the time. It is always possible for anyone to turn their life around, but if he changes it won't be because of anything you do or say, or whether you continue to be his. It will be because he decided to do it for himself.

You sound like a special woman and I am positive that one day you will meet the right man. It may be your babies daddy, but tell him not to come around or call until he has gotten himself together.

Best of luck. Keep in touch. Shakir


Hello Shakir, I have a friend who is a single mom, age 40, living with her with two children, a boy of 14 and a girl of 7. She has a cordial relationship with her Ex-husband, who lives nearby and takes one or the other child in several nights a week. My friend has revealed to me that she has been dating a parolee for the last 3 weeks. This man, now 44, did 6 years in Leavenworth for international drug trafficking and has 2 more years left on his parole. She has had him over to her house several times, and she has allowed him to play video games (shooting style) with her son. She has also allowed his 8-year-old daughter to play with her daughter. (His teenage son lives with his ex-wife in Tennessee.) Her dream is to someday move to Europe with him and start a "new life". I have expressed concern to her about letting this man into her life so. She says that he was up front about his incarceration and he has assured her that he has no enemies and will not attract trouble. My worry is that all of his friends and associates (and yes, his enemies) are criminals, and are likely to be armed, as is he. I suggested that it was a mistake for her to expose her children to the criminal element in society and that doing so threatens their safety, as well as hers. I also think that she should inform the children's father that she is exposing them to this risk. (He is likely to disapprove.) My friend and her ex-husband are quite well-to-do and live in an upscale suburb. She is very attractive and intelligent and should have no trouble attracting men, including ones without prison records. But, she badly wants a companion and a father for her children and finds a shortage of available men and ways to meet them, so she hates to let this one go. Was I right to insist she drop this guy? MB.

Dear MB,
Your concerns about the fast pace of the relation your friend created with this parolee is understandable, however, referring to the guy as "the criminal element", is a little extreme. Just because this man has served time in prison does not automatically make him any more dangerous than any other man your friend might meet and bring home. You said it yourself, your friend is desperate for a man. Therefore she is obviously willing to take a few risks.
As far as his "armed" criminally involved friends and foes from his past coming after him and your friend, you have been watching too much television. If this guy is "armed" and associating with bad boys doing bad things, yes, your friend should drop this guy right away. However, if he is striving to put the past behind him and doing things on the straight, your friend may have hit the jackpot.
And what's your problem with his daughter playing with your friends' little girl? They're kids, for Pete's sake. If your friend is looking for a father for her children, that tells me that their kids real (non-ex-felon) father is not doing his job. If that is true, who cares if he disapproves.
This man could be a psychotic homicidal maniac. On the other hand he may turn out to be a swell guy. I would keep a close eye on him for a while, though.



Dear Shakir, I served 4.5 years on an indeterminate 20, for attempted murder. I have been on parole for 10 years and want to get off. My PO tells me that
they dent release anyone from parole anymore.. Do you know if this is true.
Please email me back and let me know. Steve

Dear Steve, You didn't mention the state where you are, but I can tell you that in New Jersey, there is a procedure where the parole officer can petition the Parole Board to grant a parolee an "early discharge" from parole supervision. The parolee has to have been on supervision for a long time (10 years is a long time), and on an "advanced status" of supervision. Advanced status means the parolee is at a point where he is doing well and only required to have minimal contact with the P.O..
The packet of information that has to be prepared by the P.O. is a lot of work. It has to have detailed chronological supervision notes from the P.O. as well as a bunch of other stuff.
I suggest you call the State Parole Board (in your state) and get specifics about the qualifications for early parole discharge. You also may be able to go to the state library and research the legal statutes that apply. Put together a presentation on your own. Do the work and maybe the P.O. will submit it to the Board.
One thing to remember is that parole officers are under a lot of heat they may be reluctant to initiate an early discharge. For one thing the P.O. doesn't need the extra paperwork. Also, if a parolee that a P.O. has petitioned for early discharge commits another crime, the P.O. is going to catch the heat. Good luck. Shakir

Dear Shakir,
I am just wondering how to handle this situation with my brother. He has
been in the legal system for the past 16 years for the same case. He keeps
getting out on parole but ends up violating parole and going back on the same case. How bright he must be? My question is now in the State of Ohio, after
1996 the state said that if you violate parole they can and will charge you
with escape. How can the state parole board violate, then have the state
charge you with escape when in fact the law states you must have escaped from a penal institution? I am just trying to find out some information pertaining to this. That means that they violate him and give him jail time for a
technical violation then turn around and give him more jail time for a new
offense that arose from a technical view. The system is really really messed
up. Thanks for letting me get that off of my chest. Look forward to a response.

Dear RK, Parole is an extension of incarceration. A parolee is just doing his time on the outside, instead if in the prison. If a parolee, such as your brother, does not report to the parole officer and becomes "missing from parole" - meaning the parole officer does not know where he is - that is considered escape in many states. It's just as if he escaped from inside the prison and the authorities did not know where he was. Hope this helps explain it. Shakir

Prison Pimping: She's Just a Link in His Chain Gang of Fools

Dear Shakir,
five years ago I met a guy through a prison pen pal site on the internet. In his ad he said that he was a single, businessman, serving a 2 year sentence for possession of marijuana.

In his first letter to me, He told me that he had a successful insurance business that his brother-in-law was running until he got out of prison in about 6 months. He told me that he had given a friend a ride home one night as a favor, and he got pulled over by the police for speeding. His friend threw a small amount of reefer on the floor of the car and the police found it. He swore to me that he never touched drugs in his life and he did not know that his friend was carrying anything that day. He said that he was given a 2 year sentence because his friend would not own up to the dope. He really made it seem like he was the poor, misunderstood, good Samaritan, victim of a great injustice.

He told me that he really liked the photo that I had sent him and that he really was anxious to meet me. He sent me the telephone number of a van service that would pick me up at my door, take me to the prison, and bring me back home afterwards. It cost $50.00 round trip. plus $5.00 tip for the driver. So, after only one letter, I went to visit him.

My first trip to see him, there were 5 other women also going to visit men at the prison, and the van driver. When I told them the name of the inmate that I was going to visit it was like everyone in the van, except me, was in on a big joke. During the next three and a half hours ride to the prison the women gave me an earful. They took turns telling me how my inmate was a married, ex-heroin addict, serving 10 years for robbing a woman with a gun that he also used to beat her close to death with. Then they told me that he has deceived and conned many women over the years. days. The other women did not know each other because our inmate would make sure they never had conflicting visiting dates. (That would explain why he was so adamant that I come to visit him only on the day that he had set, and no other.)
What should have been the final straw is when the driver told me that there were at least 2 other women who were regular riders in that very van going to visit my inmate. Needless to say, I felt like an idiot, but I felt that I should at least give him an opportunity to defend himself.

When I finally passed through the gauntlet of rude prison guards, steel gates, and metal detectors, and into the prison visiting hall I told him what the other women had told me. I almost fell out of my chair when he admitted to everything the women had said about him. He said that he had lied to me because he was ashamed of himself for committing the crimes that he was in prison for. He said that if I got to know him first, I would not think that he was the terrible person his crimes make him appear to be. As far as the other women visitors, he said that he had met a few women who had visited him once or twice, but it was never anything serious. He swore that none of them was visiting him or in his life at that time. He said the other women that I had seen on his visiting card out at the visitors sign-in table were his aunts. He said that he was really ashamed for lying to me and that he understand if I was angry and decided not to visit or write to him again. That was the beginning of a 5 year relationship.
Four or five times a week he would write me letters, and hand made cards with poetry that he said he wrote just for me. He would call me, (collect of course), once or twice a week, and I would visit him two or three times a year (He told me that he did want to submit me to the prison's degrading visiting procedure any more that). . I sent him money for cigarettes and coffee, and bought him clothes, and other things he said he needed. He said his money was tied up in a situation where his brother-in-law was stealing money from his business.
We eventually made plans to get married and live on his ranch when he was paroled.

After not getting a letter or collect phone call for over 2 weeks, I wrote to him and my letter came back stamped "Inmate no longer at this institution: PAROLED". It turns out that he had been released on parole for over 2 months and never even called me.

I met 2 of his other "aunts" and they were in the same boat as me. I understand he had a minimum of 4 "aunts", including me, as linked on his 'chain-of- fools'. We were all writing him, visiting him, , sending him money, and engaged to him at the same time. He had told us all the same sad life story, and we all fell for it. Once we realized we had been conned so badly, we all just cried our eyes out on each others shoulder.

I just can't believe that I wasted 5 years of my life trusting and falling in love with a crook. I spent a total of over $9000.00 on him. I am not wealthy and I had to get cash advances on my credit cards to send him money. Every time I pay my credit card bill I'm reminded of how much of a dummy I was. Any woman thinking of rehabilitating a prison inmate better beware because inmates will lie and tell you what you want to hear. Meanwhile, they are robbing you blind and planning their escape.
chain of fools


been there done that

dear Shakir, yes, I am still married to a career criminal I am in the process of filing my papers. I feel like such a fool because I really believe that he would change. yet after doing two bids with him he still came out and within eight months he was back in. i don't feel like the typical jail wife etc. I am a nurse and my husband is really a very sweet and loving person who has a drug problem. I have tried everything to keep him out this last time, but the crack "was calling him". I don't nor never have used any drugs and I can't understand how you can give up everything special to you for an high. I have moved on with my life yet I miss him so much. I can't ever go back to that type of life, jails visits etc... Its so beneath me, I feel that I deserve someone who can meet me half way and we can build. Not someone who destroys everything that I build. I pray that the lord can help him and others like him. Its so sad to see a good person wasting away in those jails like animals, but it worse to see those young ladies wasting there lives away with them.. I know that the men in prisons are someone children, but I feel that they learn some very bad behaviors in there. They use people; and brain wash the weak. If any one could learn from my experience that would really make my pain worth something. I have seen so many things, I have seen so many come out and out of 10 couples only 1 of those couple are still a couple and he just came home 2 months ago after 18 years, so that to early to tell. I would elaborate, but I would be wasting my time because unfortunately the young girls who need to hear my story, either won't listen or can't see it because they have learn the hard way like we did. Thanks for letting me express my feelings. mt

hi mt,

it's a shame that it has to be that way, but, you speak the words of many prisonwives that i hear from. many of them just have not verbalized it to their man in the joint, or done anything about it. i wish you and your husband the best of luck. Shakir

keep'n it real

hi Shakir, i am the wife of an incarcerated man who knows better. he knows its better to be with your family than to be without. he knows its better to work for money than to steal money and your family be without. he know better than to risk loosing the one you love than to be without. but he is still in there again. give me encouraging words if you have any left. - signed, keeping it real.

dear kir,
your husband sounds like he has 'prisonitis', like so many men who have accepted the prison as a way of life. he knows better, but, being in lockdown is easier than facing life in the real world where he will be expected to produce. he probably talks a great game, but blames the referees (or the 'man') every time he can't score. i know because I've been there. my guess is that he doesn't really believe that he will lose you and his children.
you sound like you have, 'prisonwife syndrome'. you know, fed up with the whole thing. he may be in control of the time he spends in jail. you are in control of how much time you and your children spend in jail visiting him, accepting expensive collect phone call calls, and, being aggravated.
you have been dealing with this situation in real time. so I'm sure you have given it a lot of thought. follow your instincts. look out for you and your children.
however, it is because of my own personal experience that i can say there is always hope. even though things may look their worst. maybe one day he will realize what he has on the outside and turn his life around. it's all on him, though.
in the meantime,do good, with vengeance! good luck, sister.

babies daddy locked up 17 times

Shakir. how do I help my daughters father stay out of jail. He has been to jail
17 times and he was just paroled from jail to his mothers
house after doing a three year bid. Eve not been in his life but I
want to be there for him in a positive manor. he just met our daughter
and she is almost four years old. do you have any advice for me? Is
there somewhere he can go to retain guidance in his life other than
church? holla back please. peaches

dear peaches, if your babies daddy has been busted more that seventeen times you already know that there is nothing you can do to help him stay out of jail. show support from a distance, until you see where he is taking it. you know all the warning signs by now. maybe his daughter will be the difference. do good. Shakir


Angry man needs a letter.

Dear Shakir My name is Mary and I read your post on the prison news group, I am writing you to see if you can find someone that possible might want to write and help my friend L.J. who is in prison in Arkansas. He is a intelligent , caring, and gifted person (to Me ) and I hate to see him filled with such hate . He talks and thinks about revenge and crimes and how he wants to make them pay , and the way he wants to do that is silly, so maybe he isn't so intelligent after all. He thinks he can escape or make "them" pay by getting credit cards and running up huge bills and not paying, which now that I write it down, seems totally silly, because that don't make anyone pay for anything, He has filed and won a lawsuit on behalf of freedom of religion stuff, but anyway, is it possible you or someone who write this man a letter to show him that you are black and have made it and he can to. I am from the south and I know of the racism there, and Tucker Arkansas is supposed to be a horrible prison and he is a lifer. life plus 40 is what he has. I know there are thousands of "Larry " in Americas prisons but I was hoping a short letter might be nice. I feel sorry for him, I live in Oregon, he's not scamming me for money or stamps or anything like that , just the letters is all I send him, he writes me long 20 page letters . I hate to see such a intelligent man who seems to be so caring waste his life, I mean he can be helping others learn to read and write, or helping with legal work , which he does.. Mary / Oregon

Dear Mary, Unfortunately there are a lot of men who survive prison time by feeding off hatred and fantasies of revenge. I did it for a long time and that was why I remained in the cycle of recidivism for so long. Focusing on others and blaming them for my problems, kept me from looking within my self and taking responsibility for my own situation. I don't know the circumstances surrounding your friends situation, but, whatever it is will not ever get better if he continues to think in the negative manner you have described. On the other hand, Life +40 is a lot of time and I imagine that if I had that much time to do I would have a little bit of an attitude also. If he has won a court case against the prison, he certainly sounds like an intelligent man who knows the difference between reality and fantasy. maybe he will someday put those adventure fantasies on paper and write a novels to entertain people and do whatever you will to the characters that he creates. They say that the pen is mightier than the sword, and it's true.Shakir

Why guys go to prison?.

Dear Shakir, If jail is so bad why do so many guys keep going back for more? RL / Pennsylvania

Dear RL, Because they keep doing crimes. If they stopped doing crimes, they would stay out of jail, it's as simple as that. Stop doing crimes Stop going to prison! Shakir

My boyfriend gets beaten up by guards.

Dear Shakir, My boyfriend gets beaten up all the time by the guards at the prison he is at in New Jersey. What can I do to help him. Thank you. - JJ / New Jersey

Dear JJ, Pray for him! Shakir

My husband needs a job when he gets out.

Dear Shakir, My husband (36) has been in and out of the judicial system for the past 10 years. He is currently inside now. How will he be able to find steady employment when he gets out? - HY / New Jersey

Dear HY, In my book, "Black Excon", and in the "Living Right, Living Well: The Best Revenge" section of JointFX I talk about some of the things that he should be doing to prepare himself while he is still inside. It won't be easy, but if he has the right frame of mind good things will eventually come his way. I'm assuming , as you appear to be, that he has sincerely made his mind up that this is his last bid. If he hasn't it won't matter. The only place on earth where a man is guaranteed a job, without threat of layoff, is in the prison. Good luck. Shakir

My boyfriend was framed by guards I.

Hi Shakir, I came across your site & just got done reading you story "Attitude Reform, Not Prison Reform" and thought it was great I've been searching the internet for articles & helpful links relating to NJ Prisons because I am looking to find some way to help my boyfriend, Andrew. Andrew was is in NSP prison on a parole violation and his release date was to be September 1998 (I've been waiting since November 1996 for him to come home). But 2 months ago he was charged with assaulting an guard, which is just a cover up for the guards repeatedly beating him up to the point of unconsiouness - and the whole time they made racial comments towards him and called him a cop hitter. Andrew is a small framed (very white) guy with long blond hair and all the guards that beat & kicked him to a pulp were all black. He is now in Rahway Ad Seg looking at an additional 8 months for this false charge. Their must be something I can do to help him but I don't know what. I realize I'm really new to all this prison stuff, but here I am on the internet trying to figure out what I can do for him & how to it without a lawyer cause I do not have any money. I have an 8 page letter from Andrew going through every second of every beating. So I am begging or any advise or help or even a point in the right direction that you can offer me. I am clueless as what to do but I do know something has to be done cause what they did to him was wrong. I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely RC / New Jersey

Hi RC, I received your email concerning your boyfriend's situation and I have a couple of thoughts. My first thought is that your boyfriend is running a "con" game on you for some reason. Whether to get money from you, visits, mail, or just sympathy. I say that because the scenario which you say he lays out in his "8 page letter" sound like an episode of HBO's "OZ".. Oppressed White guy in prison, beaten and kicked everyday by Black prison guards who shout racial slurs at him; then to hide the constant beatings the Black prison guards charge they charge the prisoner with assault on the guards. Maybe it's my confessed cynicism showing through here, but I don't believe it. That sad story of prison abuse has been used for decades by inmates, to manipulate take advantage of people, especially women who they meet while in prison. don't know how much proof you have of what your boyfriend is telling you, or how long, or how well you know him, however, you say that you are "new to all this prison stuff...", and I can tell that you are. My second thought is that is your boyfriend is getting beat the way you say that he is, he must have messed up big time. There are a lot of bigger, tougher, Black and White butts to kick in the prison. I wonder why he's getting so much attention. Anyway, there are some prison advocate groups that look into prison abuses, however, in reality unless you are prepared to spend money on a lawyer to investigate., there really isn't anything much that you can do about it alone, except pray. If you go to the Internet search engines/directories, like Yahoo, ExCite, etc., and search key words "prisons, prisoners, and law, you will get a lot of resources. Or go to personally to talk to someone at the Department of Corrections in Trenton, and make yourself heard. You will be wasting your time trying to phone. Hopefully, for your sake, your boyfriend will reform his attitude and the next time he gets paroled, he will never forget that he does not like doing time in prison. If he hasn't, get ready for the ride. Good luck! Shakir

My boyfriend was framed by guards II.

Dear Shakir, I appreciate your response but I know he told me the truth about getting beat up & its not for attention cause I visited him 3x's a week at Northern State, and he knows I have no money to give him. This beating only happened once then he was transferred into an ad seg unit at Rahway where I see him once a week. I know without a doubt that what happened to him is the truth. We went to H.S. together, he has never lied to me and would never lie to me. Unfortunately I do not have any money to spend on a lawyer so I guess he will remain their for another 8 months. It just sucks cause his release date was September 98, now he has to serve more time for the false charges. I visit him now at ad. seg. once a week and he knows I will be their every week. All the guards I've spoken to at Rahway Ad Seg are very nice, they actually treat everyone like a human - where at Northern State you get treated like a piece of shit. The guards at Rahway even told me some nasty stories about the guards at Northern.Sincerely, RC

You're a good friend, RC! .Shakir



Needs help with employment resources.

Hi Shakir, I just viewed your website. Thank God there is someone like you out there.Not only are you an inspiration to someone who has been in your position, but you motivate those outside of that "box" to want to help those in it get out and back in the race. I have a friend, who spent 3 years in NC State for selling drugs. It was his first offense. Prior to that, he was a Jump Master in the U.S Army and active in special forces commando missions....and naturally was dishonorably discharged for his crime. While in the army, he was treated with respect and dignity. Since his incarceration and subsequent release from prison, he can't even get a job...let alone a decent one. He's 33 years old and living with his parents. He just got out of an abusive relationship....he was the abused...physically and mentally. He stayed with the woman mainly because he felt ashamed to go back home. He's trying to get his life together...but without a job...its quite difficult. Do you know if there is a program out there that helps ex cons obtain employment? He's great at web design, computers and things like that. He designed a web page, and has a few in his portfolio that he's done for other people, but he needs to find steady income. Please let me know if there is some way to help him. He lives in San Antonio Texas, but may be moving to Ft. Myers Florida. Thanks you for your time! Su

Hi Sue, Thank you for your compliments of the JointFX webpage. i really can't tell you exactly what is available in Texas, but there are basically very few programs for parolees, and ex-inmates anywhere. the internet is probably the best way to locate resources. Florida has a very good educational and vocational training program in it's prisons and jails, however, I am not sure what they offer on the outside. If your friend is good at building web pages, he should try to develop that skill, because that is a good, open field to get into. Try to start his own business, maybe. It will be tough, but if he lives right he will reap rewards. You are a good friend. Shakir

My boyfriend is losing faith

Dear Shakir, My boyfriend was recently released. When he first got out he was willing to do everything he needed to do to be a good parolee. One of the terms of his parole was that he has to be employed. The only problem is that we live in such a small town, no one will hire him. He can't get a job out of town, because his license have been suspended. This has really hit him hard and now his attitude towards being out has changed. He says he is losing faith in himself. I try to be there for him. I've even gone to businesses without him knowing about it to put in a good word for him. The harder I try to support him, the more he shuts me out. Any advice that you can give me would be appreciated.God Bless, BB

Dear BB The problem that you and your boyfriend are experiencing right now is common among parolees and their families. Your boyfriend cannot forget what his vision is for a better future for himself and for you. He must not lose confidence in himself, or allow anyone to make him feel like less than a man. The first 6 months to a year will be the toughest period he will go through, Most men don't make it through because they can't take the rejections and the fact that it seems that everybody in the world is conspiring to make them fail. My advice to him would be to talk about it with someone. If not you, someone, he will feel comfortable with. And if he does talk to someone else, don't you take it personal. Give him his space and let him work it out. You want to keep giving him support, however, don't stand by and let him feel sorry for himself either. Life is tough for everybody. Just keep doing them right thing, and never give up. In time things will happen for him. How about relocating and starting new somewhere else? Good Luck! Shakir

It's a cruel world

Dear Shakir, Thanks for this site, I'm an ex-offender, and I'm having trouble finding gainful employment. Yeah, I can get minimum wage jobs, but there is no future in that. I attend a technical school here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I have thought about quitting, because before I attended this school, I applied for a job at a local plumbing company and just when I was scheduled to attend the orientation, the guy told me we can't hire you because of your criminal background check. So I'm disillusioned. I don't want to quit school but what is the future for an ex-offender like me? you succeeded, could you give me any advice and/or any programs that I can access on the internet? Again this is a great site and it has taken me maybe two months to find you! Thank you. S.

Dear S. Show some heart. Never give up!.. Life is full of disillusions, but you have to keep on going forward. Your future is going to be what you make it. If you quit school and start feeling sorry for yourself, you may as well get your toothbrush and go on down to the county jail. I don't know all the circumstances with the plumbing gig, but have you tried to get a meeting with the bosses there to ask them to give you a chance to prove yourself? Speak up for yourself, and sometimes you can get people to open a door for you. You may have to work minimum wage in the beginning. I worked 2 minimum wage jobs in the beginning to make ends meet. But, all the time I was looking ahead to a better future. You have to do whatever you have to do, within the confines of the law, of course, to stay out out of jail. You will have to make your own program and chart your own course.Hang in there and keep the faith. Good Luck! Shakir

Wants to help An Ex-con

Dear Shakir, I would like to know if there is a list of men getting out on parole, that need a helping hand getting started over again. In the Kansas, Missouri area or anyone that wants to relocate. Thank you. Marvin J.

Dear Marvin, It's really nice of you to offer your home to someone, however, you must be very careful. If you want to invite someone into your home, go through a program or agency that will screen the person and give you support. Contact the Kansas Department of Corrections, or Human Services to find out program for volunteers. Good Luck! Shakir

Son is in Prison

Hi Shakir, My name is Ivory I have a son who is in prison. We are doing o.k. Sometimes it hurts, but God has helped us a lot too and other people. Thanks. God loves you and so do I. God bless you and you have a great day!!!

Dear Ivory, Thank you very, very much for your kind words and your prayers. I feel blessed each time someone is helped, or inspired by my website. Thank you so much. I love God, and I love you too.Shakir


Going to Hell If I don't pray

Brother, When I hear about a brother breaking the chains that enslave,I'm happy. If you have time look up the open door pages on the net. MOST IMPORTANTLY if you haven't found JESUS,find him, it would be ashamed that after going through the hell you've gone through to die and go to hell again.

At least I'll know some people there. Shakir

The sister said I lack depth & range

Dear Shakir: While I was pleased to find your website, because there is dire need for men such as yourself to capture some of cyberspace, I question the lack of range and depth presented in some of your analysis around African American men and incarceration. There is an incredible force that attributes to black male recidivism rates that includes sexism, racism, homophobia and classism. You might want to check out the Critical Resistance/Prison Activist Resource Center Web Site at to get a good overview of how complex the prison crisis is. While I am sickened by the revolving prison door, I also know that there are some magnetic forces behind human behavior. If this was not so, you can easily conclude that one ought to be able to just "say no" and all is well. Behind the "NO" has to be a movement that politicizes one to a higher understanding of self. It is not simplistic matter. As I am diametrically opposed to misogyny, I think that a"reconstruction" of black male masculinity is crucial.

As I read that you are a Parole Hearing Officer as well as an ex-offender, you know that you are employed under exceptional circumstances (namely that your states DOC implemented such a program). While you can use it for what you can use it for, be always mindful that this type of program gives the system someone to hold up as a "good example" of what others can do, knowing that policy, much more than human aspirations, rules out the possibilities for pulling oneself up by their boot straps. While you speak of empowerment throughout the literature on your website, you advice in some instances hardly reflects such. I was appalled at your advice regarding a situation where a woman's boyfriend was being routinely beaten. You simply said to "pray". Certainly, there are many other things this individual can do.

I have attached two articles if you are interested in reading. One is entitled "Function Fucking Phone Sex and Prison Marriages: The Effective of Incarceration on Black Male-Female Relationships" (published in Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire is a slightly different version) and the other is "ONAMOVE: Black Women Confronting the Prison Crisis" (upcoming in Still Lifting/Still Climbing: African American Women's Incarceration). Take care, JS

Dear JS, My Sister, first I must thank you for sharing your thoughts, and for sending the articles. I was only able to open the one entitled "Black Women Confronting...". However, I did not learn anything new under the sun that would expanded my " range and/or depth" , or influence my "analysis" of the historic relationship between the Black man and the prison system. Remind me not to come to you for hope and encouragement. I would find it hard to gain, or obtain a "higher sense of oneself", based on your doctrine of doom. Yes, mitigating circumstances, such as Racism, Classism, and all the other "isms" that contributes to the way of the world. It is shortsighted, and even a bit offensive to many Black men for you "attribute" blame solely on the White man and completely ignore a Black man's responsibility for himself.

The most of the brothers going in and out of the prisons today are not revolutionaries, or freedom fighters. There is no connection between Bobby Seale, Mumia, or M.O.V.E., and the majority of the Black men and boys selling drugs, killing one another and other innocent people, and terrorizing the African American neighborhoods. We are not talking about political prisoners in the war against poverty, and racism, and civil rights. The majority of the Black men in the prisons today are thugs and gangstas', and dopefiend's out to feed and promote their own personal desires, not feeding and protect their families. Those brothers have become comfortable and secure in prison. They play cards and watch television all day, while continuing to drain the energy and meager resources of their families and community just as when they are on the streets. In and out of prison like they got "time share" options, and complaining about how had the service and accommodations are in there. What' they were not beating up people in prison the last 3 times her boyfriend was there? The only thing you can do to help a fool is to pray for him. I can say it because I know it. I know it because I was in it.

Also, why do you just assume that my job, and over-all success in life, is the result of a state instituted ex-offender "program"? What gives you the right to make a bold statement that Black men coming out of the prison "cannot" achieve, or "pull themselves up by their boot straps", as you put it? I am successful despite my past, not as a result of it. And certainly not due to any "program". I competed through Civil Service, and worked for every gain and advancement that I have made in my life. For the first 2 years that I was paroled I worked shithouse minimum wage jobs that no one else would touch, because I was determined that I was going to do whatever necessary - with the law- not to ever go back to prison again. I worked 2 and sometimes 3 jobs at a time, when I got custody of my 8 year old son, and became a single parent. I knew that it was a means to a better end, however. As far as I am concerned there was nothing worse than being in prison and I was not going back.. The odds were stacked against Black men back then, just as they are today, but there was nothing, short of trying to harm me or my son, that the "Man" could do to make me lose my focus. I am a Parole Hearing Officer who also happens to be an Ex-Con. I am not an Ex-Con who happens to be a Hearing Officer.

On the other hand, what if I did make it because of a special government program. First you blame the White man for causing my failure, then you accuse him of causing my success. At what point, in your in-depth analysis, do the incredible forces of the world stop being responsible, and the Black man himself become the master engineer of his own destiny? I think, maybe, it is reflective of your own inherently low opinion, and lower expectations, of Black men.

Many African American men have gotten their lives together after prison based on their own inner strength, determination, and even with assistance from government programs. I choose to attach my vision to "Hope and Possibility", for other Brothers coming out of the prison who have made a serious decision to have a better life. It can be done. No one is saying it is easy and there ain't no guarantees in life for most people.

We all know that the hardest job in America is being a Black man, however, we don't need any help making excuses for ourselves. We do a good job of that already. I can say it because I was there. I blamed everybody and everything for my condition. I also don't want you to lose site of the fact that despite all the "incredible forces" out there, most Black men, are NOT in prison, have NEVER been to prison, NEVER been arrested, and are NOT on drugs.

There is nothing that you could tell me about the life of a Black man with a prison record. Not about how to succeed, nor how to fail. I just hope that as you and my Black sisters lay your plan to confront the prison crisis, you don't forget to "confront", and put the challenge to the brothers in the prison about their role and responsibility in make change. The best way to initiate the "reconstruction of the Black males masculinity" (whatever that is), is to give him credit for having the testosterone to take responsibility for his own actions and behaviors in this life. It's the attitude of hopelessness, and acceptance of defeat that has us by the balls. PEACE, Shakir

Desperately seeking Johnny

Dear Shakir, Okay I will tell you the question first then the story behind the questions.  The question is how do you find a loved one that you know is in prison but you dent know where. This is the story: First of all when I was a very little girl my father abused me and my brother in many ways.  My mother didn't know about any of the abuse.  My brother died in a car accident and we moved from California to Montana.  My father stayed in California because we couldn't afford to live in Montana if he stayed.  After a few years I started dating a guy named John.  We broke up after 4 months, he left to California  with a  lady he had started dating, I was crushed, but neither of us could stand each other at the time.  John came back to Montana after a month, and we had a great reunion.  We were the best of friends, things were so much better between us.  I told him what had happened between my father and I (he was the first person who I had told) and he helped me through that time.  He was living with his and my closest friend.  She ended up getting mad at him and in the end called the police and turned him in for a ring that he had stolen a year back.  Again, my world was turned upside down.  My house was empty at the time because I was staying with another person, so I told John that he could stay up at my house until he was ready to leave the state.  I checked up on him every once in awhile and in the end I ended up leaving the state with him.  We went to California.  While we were in California we got back together, and were planning on getting married.  He was the only person who knew everything about my life and I knew everything about him.  We didn't get married because something happened that made me go back to Montana.  We were only going to be apart for a year.  Unfortunately, neither of us could stand to be apart, so John made a trip to Montana to visit me.  While he was here he was arrested and his parents (who had just retired from the sheriffs department)  convinced the judge that there were threats being made to John because of who his parents were.  He was released and his parents told him to leave state.  I wasn't planning on going with him but in the end I did.  He was arrested and I was made to stay away from him there was a lot of crimes that got committed while we were gone the second time.  He pulled a gun on a police officer and of course the officer pulled hers on him, and I ended up stepping between the two and because of that John left.  It has been a almost a year and a half since that happened and John was just sentenced two months ago.  I believe that he is in the XXXXX prison, but I don't know how to find out or how to get his inmate number so I can write to him.  Also I don't know how to get on with my life I haven't even thought about dating, but I suppose that if I was supposed to I would want to.  If you can give me any information on this I would greatly appreciate it. Sincerely R

Dear R, If you call the prison where you think he may be they will tell you if he is there and how you can write and/or visit him. If you are not sure of the specific prison, call the state Department of Corrections, or whomever runs the prisons in the state where he is locked up and they should be able to help you. You may even be able to find all the information you seek on the states internet site. My only question is why are you trying to find this guy? The first time my woman ever put me into a position where I found myself between her and a cop pointing guns at one another would be the last time. The only reason I would want to contact her in prison after that would be to ask where I could send her clothes. Good luck! Shakir