Sending Kites

Episode 1: The Landscape of Incarceration

June 06, 2023 Marcella Season 1 Episode 1
Sending Kites
Episode 1: The Landscape of Incarceration

[00:00] Marcella: This project is made possible by Bayha Group, Griffin Legacy and Associates, and the Liberation and Justice Project Foundation.

[00:17] Boogie: Hello. Man, I've never had this opportunity to show that I can do this. No, man. This is why it's so important for me, Marcella, to go out there and share my narrative with people. You know what I'm saying?

[00:35] Marcella: Welcome to Sending Kites. This is the space for storytelling and continuing conversations about incarceration and criminal justice while centering the voices of those who have directly experienced it. The name of the podcast is Sending Kites.

[00:49] Boogie: Sending kites is communicating information. I sent my man a kite, meaning that you're going to write that person, whether it's text or letters, whatever the situation may be.

[01:00] Marcella: Each of these episodes will be like kites stories and messages from people who are currently or formerly incarcerated. Here are your hosts for the first episode, The Landscape of Incarceration. First, I'm Marcella. I'm from Oakland, California. And soon I'll be graduating from Georgetown University in DC.

[01:19] Boogie: My name is Cordell. Everybody call me Boogie. Marcella and I met doing a prison scholarship program that was presented in the Correctional Treatment Facility in Washington, DC.

[01:28] Marcella: That prison scholarship program where we met was in 2021. He was released in early 2022 and was held in ICE detention before being deported to Jamaica.

[01:36] Boogie: Acclimating in this environment right here has been one of the hardest struggles for me. I had to reprogram every aspect of my life and make the necessary adjustments, you know what I'm saying? In this world that I've been absent from for over 30 years.

[01:50] Marcella: Our third and final host for episode one is someone I also met in DC doing work and research around incarceration. Dr. Brittany Gatewood is a professor of criminology, and she's also the founder of the Liberation and Justice Project Foundation. Her research centers around Black incarcerated women and children of incarcerated parents. Thank you, and welcome to both of these hosts for being here.

[02:18] Marcella: So since this is the first episode, The Landscape of Incarceration, we just want to get straight into it, giving an overview of how the literal system works and a basic history of incarceration in the United States. Our entry point today is working backwards from what we're seeing right now and digging deeper and deeper into the past. Today, the criminal justice system is frequently characterized as a system of mass incarceration. So to start here and deconstruct those words, Dr. Gatewood, could you start by explaining to us what mass incarceration literally means?

[02:49] Dr. Gatewood: Of course. Well, first, thank you for having me. And so mass incarceration a term that people use a lot. It started around the 1980s, and this is where we had a really rapid increase of incarceration. So we went from less than 200,000 people incarcerated, so that's in prisons and in jails. Today, we have over 2 million. And so was a rapid increase in the span of about 30 years.

[03:18] Marcella: Yeah, and the really rapid increase in incarceration wasn't a response to rapidly rising crime rates. The "tough on crime" stance was a narrative being pushed to justify criminalizing black and brown communities and further expand the legal system into them. And that just kind of scratches the surface, but I think it already hints to why you, Dr. Gatewood, call it the criminal legal instead of criminal justice system.

[03:41] Dr. Gatewood: So I and a lot of scholars now say the criminal legal system because the system is not just, so to call it a justice system is not correct. And so the criminal legal system is the system where we punish people that do things that the society says is unacceptable.

[04:03] Marcella: Yeah, and I think the word punishment that you use there is important because our criminal justice system is a punitive system, which I think we tend to take for granted or forget is a choice. And you might have your own opinion about if punishment is justice or part of justice, but either way, it's clear that this legal system is a mechanism of distributing punishment for behaviors that are considered wrong by the people who wrote the law.

[04:27] Boogie: Is punishment different from justice? Hell yeah. For the simple fact that the judicial system is set up with, though, the punishment is supposed to be the justice that's giving to the individual. However, this is not necessarily so, as you can see. You see the outcome. You see what the prisons is filled with today, primarily the percentage of African American, Hispanics, brown and black people, as they say. You see it. So of course, there's unfairness there's- there's more punishment than anything. Justice is void. Where's where is the justice?

[04:59] Marcella: To answer more of these questions too, we have to break down the parts of the system and get a clear understanding of how the pieces fit and function together. Dr. Gatewood, could you break down the structure of the criminal legal system and tell us more about each of its parts?

[05:12] Dr. Gatewood: Yes. So the criminal legal system is essentially three areas, and people can remember them from the three C's. So you have cops, courts, and corrections cops is law enforcement. This is the first point of entry into the legal system. And so this is the thing that people interact with the most, right. You see traffic cops, you see high speed chases, you see different drug busts, all these kind of things FBI, CIA police, local police, state police. That's the way that most people go into the criminal legal system. Then the court system kicks in. So this is where you have trials and most don't go to trial. Most convictions are usually through plea agreements, which could be a whole podcast on itself. But plea agreements are when you just agree to plead guilty, and then when you plead guilty, then you get a reduced sentence, which is an agreement with your lawyers and the prosecutor, with the cops and the court system, there's a lot of inequality that happens that pushes certain people into the corrections. And so what happens after court is your sentence. So most people know prisons, jails, also probation, parole, house arrest, community service, all those are under the umbrella of correction. Jails are short term, so you're probably going to have a misdemeanor a year or less. And then prisons, you are going to have felonies. So usually typically a year or more. So people get them confused all the time. And so one thing I like to say is, although there's more white people arrested, there's more black people incarcerated. So as you go through the criminal legal system, it gets blacker.

[06:51] Marcella: I think the lived experience piece comes in here again, because it's one thing to talk about this outline for what each piece of the system does, but that also doesn't begin to describe the experience of it in practice and experience of moving through the system. I remember the first time that Boogie told me about his court experience, and that stuck with me a lot.

[07:09] Boogie: Yeah, my first experience in the courtroom, and it was beyond frightening. I was 17 years old, charged with a triple homicide. The anxiety that I felt upon entering the court, even before that, while I was in the holding sales, the million thoughts that was going through my mind, my concept and my perception of a courtroom is what I saw on television. The judge was this big, fearful individual that everybody seemed to respect and was afraid of. You know, when he sits down, you sit down. I was like, man, and keep in mind, I'm a young black kid. So we're taught that being in the presence of white people in a suit, you had to be real humble and respectful. Man, I can't even breathe properly. So once I got in the courtroom, the prosecution, the government, they're the next table. And there's Kiki AHA, my lawyer, they talking like they best friends. And my thing is this from watching television, keep in mind my concept, understanding of a courtroom is the government is the enemy, and your lawyer is supposed to be fighting for you. So when I saw them laughing together and all this, it just didn't seem right to me. But the judge, he looked over and down on me and made me feel like, you need to humble yourself. The words that he told me was like, he's going to make sure that I never ever see the streets again. And keep this in mind, this is just my preliminary hearing. It's not even a preliminary. This is like a status hearing. You know what I'm saying? So when he told me that, I'm like, what the hell? All this scene is new to me. The linguistics, the terms that's being used, I had no idea what was being said or if it was being said about me. I was basically reading body language because I'm from the streets. And I'm saying to myself, is anybody going to ask me what happened or what made me do nothing? Did anybody even wonder why was I in a situation that I was in? Nobody cared. Nobody asked any questions. Nobody explained anything to me as far as the law, what I'm facing or what my options were and so on. None of these things, you know what I'm saying? So, man, I'm like, what am I supposed to do? This was the first time, man. First time. This is definitely not a good day.

[09:32] Marcella: And again, these stories are not meant to evoke sympathy when that's not what's being looked for. This lived experience is meant to be a means of sharing the truth and creating community or solidarity around these realities. And I don't want to sensationalize the things that are happening in the legal system or use violence and its shock value through the stories.

[09:50] Boogie: Sometimes a person may listen to what I've stated and feel as though like I was looking for sympathy. At no point in time throughout my confinement have I ever looked for sympathy from anybody. But what I did look for was concern. In the beginning stage of my confinement, what I did look for was somebody to try to even talk to me. But I don't want nobody hearing anything that I've said and say, oh, he he did all that, he wants me to feel sorry- no, I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me. I don't want nobody to repeat what I've been through. I want to give a person clarity. I want to be a voice of reason and help. So what I'm looking for is sympathy or empathy from anybody. But I just want a person to know that just because a person may commit a particular crime doesn't mean that that person is who society labeled them or stereotype them as being. Circumstances happen.

[10:51] Marcella: Yeah, exactly. And these are conversations that I'm excited to open and have together just because the issues of the criminal legal system are so much bigger than wrongful convictions or racial bias in the courtroom. And like you said, no one is caring to figure out why something like this could and did happen and circumstances happen, but who are what is keeping us in safe conditions and safe circumstances. And the system doesn't also care what your circumstances are because it's a system that distributes punishment. There are even bigger questions as to like, does this system actually reduce harm at the end of the day? And are our communities safer because of the system? But again, this is exactly why we need to go as very far back as the literal beginning of the criminal legal system. And so I think now is a good time to shift into a little bit of the history and the foundation. Dr. Gatewood, could you tell us more about where the criminal legal system came from and its origins.

[11:45] Dr. Gatewood: Yes. One thing I like to tell people is before colonization, the prison system as we know it today, people being jailed didn't exist within the Americas. So Indigenous tribes, they had different types of systems for justice or when people did something that their society saw as wrong. And so this notion of what we know as jail in prison, this is something that came over from Europe, and it's something that is newer in the Americas because it was not here before.

[12:16] Marcella: So with colonization, slavery starts as early as 1526. But people cite 1619 as the first year when enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia. And that marks the beginning of over 200 years of slavery. So now we're going to chronologically follow what happened next, basically, and following the narrative of the legal system from the 17 hundreds until now. And this is important because I feel like a lot of people view jails and prisons as a permanent aspect of society or an inherent or necessary component of living in a society, but that is not the case. There's specific historical processes and Western values that shaped this outcome, namely colonization and slavery and racial capitalism. And then these systems are reframed or readopted for the alleged purpose of public safety. But it's important to look at how this all started so we can view the system with a more objective lens.

[13:08] Dr. Gatewood: And so how we get our system that we have now, it starts off with slavery. And with slavery, the transatlantic slave trade brought enslaved Africans over to the Americas. And enslaved Africans, they couldn't own anything. They really couldn't do anything that they wanted to do. Their language was stripped away. Religion was stripped away. Their culture was stripped away. They were forced into working, especially in the antebellum south, on plantations and doing this hard labor. And so you build a system and you build America around the fact that they have no rights.

[13:50] Marcella: The United States was physically, socially, and economically built on the backs of slave labor and the slave trade. And the whole structure of the country is founded in slavery and specifically control over black bodies. So when it became illegal to enslave black bodies, suddenly the US. Infrastructure is crumbling.

[14:07] Dr. Gatewood: So as time goes on and slavery comes abolished, you have a whole bunch of black people that are not free. White people, the plantation owners. Free labor gave them a lot, a lot of money. So they tried different ways to ensure that black people still did the type of labor they wanted. However, we are going to change it within a system that is legal, because now, because of the 13th Amendment, the 13th Amendment says that you are not allowed to do slavery or involuntary servitude except for punishment of a crime.

[14:48] Boogie: They were destroyed. They didn't want to lose this form of free labor. Hell, no. You see, when the slaves were freed, they weren't actually free. See, this is the trickery right here. In one part, they make it seem as though they ended slavery. But there's an exception to the rule, right? Except as a punishment for crime, we of the party shall be duly convicted.

[15:09] Marcella: And so this loophole in the 13th Amendment leads to a system called convict leasing, which allows free labor to continue.

[15:16] Dr. Gatewood: So convict leasing happened. So after emancipation, what happened is people were incarcerated, and they were incarcerated for just little things. So it made it a grand larceny if you stole a cow or a pig. And so, again, this could be someone just said you did it. You didn't have to actually do it. And so then you will get years in prison.

[15:43] Marcella: So these laws are called the Black Codes, and they are specifically targeted at black people after the Civil War and after emancipation. And these laws, like they mentioned, are kind of made up and very strict. They limit and require the types of employment that black people can have. You can be arrested for not carrying proof of employment or even just for working somewhere that a white person doesn't recognize. Black people are arrested for loitering, just for being in public spaces and put back into enslavement. And also keep in mind that white landowners are the people who push these black codes through in the first place. Once the Black Codes are in place, it's being enforced by state militia forces and by all-white police forces who also had KKK members on them. So all of this is introduced and run by the same white people who are running the slave trade.

[16:28] Boogie: They started having, making up laws. Man little stupid stuff. Jaywalking any little thing that they can lock the black people up to free slaves up for knowing that they can't pay a fine. So because they can't pay the fine, now, they can be enslaved. Once again, this is even far worse than slavery, because now you're being worked to death. They didn't matter. They worked you until they couldn't work you no more. When the body died, just moved it to the side, buried it, and onto the next one. Man yeah, you free, but don't slip up. Don't do anything remotely close to breaking any laws because we're going to lock you up. We know you can't pay anything. We know you can't even read. You can't write. So we're going to take advantage of this opportunity and enslave you once again. Another form of enslavement. This is crazy.

[17:16] Dr. Gatewood: And so what happened is that the prisons will lease out the labor. So let's say I am a slave owner, a previous slave owner, and I have all this land that I want, low cost free labor. So I might get into a contract with a local jail, local prison, so that I can essentially lease out the people that are convicted. And so if I already have the slave quarters, everything like that. So I will be in charge of feeding housing, just like I did in enslavement, and they will still do the work. So this is still cheap labor. And so a lot of people think of mass incarceration, think of the 1980s with the war on drugs and those type of things. But right after emancipation, there were slow upticks within incarceration, particularly around black people.

[18:10] Boogie: And it was all about economic production, as you say, economics and production, all about free labor. They did not want to lose that free labor. So of course this had to be an exception to the rule. Of course it had to be.

[18:24] Dr. Gatewood: Man you see, this happened over decades that this has happened. Convict lease system was abandoned. But you eventually see businesses started getting into these contracts with the states, especially penitentiaries or state institutions, prisons. And they have people that are incarcerated doing labor for them.

[18:48] Marcella: So basically, over time, the large-scale system of convict leasing is abandoned and outlawed kind of in the late 1800s. But the last state to outlaw convict leasing was Alabama. And this doesn't happen till 1928, which is less than 100 years ago. But even so, after comic leasing becomes outlawed, this does not end or really change the use of prison labor at all in practice.

[19:11] Dr. Gatewood: There's a lot of businesses that use prison labor. And so people have seen  Nike or Victoria's Secret, there's speculation. Whole Foods and some other people, and a lot of dairy farms, a lot of plantations and farms in the south still use it. The people that are incarcerated get paid maybe less than a dollar. Some don't even get paid at all for their labor.

[19:36] Boogie: Yeah. Man as far as convict leasing, it just gave me some clarity. I now can make the connections between how it was back then, how it is back now. And the primary connection that I made, I look in the federal system at UNICOR. UNICOR is a place in the feds, or a place of employment in the feds, where you make top dollar. But for hard labor. This is a place where people build couches, jackets, all sorts of stuff that society uses, but for minimal minimum pay. I equated to how slaves were back then. It's basically like free labor. Free labor because you're getting paid $0.12 an hour. $0.12 an hour you can make up until like one or $2 an hour, something like that. Right. But it's basically free labor because the work production and what you're getting paid for it, it doesn't add up. It doesn't add up. You're working 8 hours a day with no lunch breaks, in some instances sometimes longer, for getting paid for like $100 a month. 8 hours of labor for $100 a month.

[20:51] Dr. Gatewood: So let's say you get fifty cents a day, and so that $0.50 also has to go towards any debts you have. Calling and emails and video calls, those all cost money.

[21:02] Boogie: Some of the inmates, they have what's called fined court fees or court costs. Whereas though they have to pay a certain amount and it comes from their pay.

[21:12] Dr. Gatewood: Or they might even have copays to go see the doctor. A lot of people don't know that they have copays if you want to buy anything off of the commissary. So commissary is like a little store within different institutions where they can buy things they might need that the state doesn't provide.

[21:30] Boogie: Just like you're in the streets, you need clothing, you need food, you need toiletries, you need cosmetics, you need all these things because the prison does not provide it for you.

[21:40] Dr. Gatewood: In Commissary, things are exponentially cost. So a little tube of toothpaste might cost out here, you could get at the dollar store for maybe fifty cents a dollar there. It might cost two, three, $5 for a little tube of toothpaste.

[21:53] Boogie: We're making and producing all these different things from furniture to clothing, and we're getting paid nothing for it. Same way that the slaves were working and hard labor night in, night out and getting nothing for it, man. That's why they call in certain federal prisons, they call UNICOR, they call it "Kinta-cor," just like how the slaves did. Kinte, they call UNICOR Kinta-cor or the slave ship because they know the guys that works in UNICOR, man. They're being mishandled, man. It is definitely the slave ship. It is definitely Kinta-cor because they call the guys that work in UNICOR Uni-Kintes. I know it sounds funny, but it's no joke, man. UNICOR is KintaCor. And the guys that work in UNICOR call Uni-kinte little Kunta-kintes. They call them Uni-kinte, man. They be enslaved, man.

[22:55] Dr. Gatewood: And so when you talk about modern day slavery is the fact of as enslaved Africans, they didn't get paid for their labor. They were exploited for their labor.

[23:05] Boogie: This is another form of statement. We are considered slaves, right? Because just like the slaves had their branding back then, to know that this is my slave or this my in the feds, we have a number. This is my property. This is the property of the District of Columbia. If you have a seven, triple zero or 16, you're the property of Arkansas. If you have a number nine, you're the property of Philadelphia, you have 66 number, you're the property of Indiana. If you have 21 number. So we are still property of the state, depending on where you caught your charge. But you are still convicted. So by you being convicted of something, you are duly convicted. So therefore you are subjected of all kinds of mistreatment and servitude and punishment. So it's no difference. Time just got advanced and the system just got a little bit smarter.

[23:56] Marcella: So prison labor continues and is widespread even after the convict leasing system has been abandoned. And this is also not long ago in history at all. This is in the 20th century and just a few decades later in the kind of this marks the start of the War on Drugs, which is another important part of the history of the criminal legal system.

[24:17] Dr. Gatewood: Yes. So back in the 1970s, 1980s is where you get this rapid increase with mass incarceration. And most of it is because of drugs. Just because there was pretty much a push to criminalize drug use, which increased our correctional system as we know it today. One person that people don't talk about a lot when you talk about the War on Drugs is Nixon. And so what is happening during Nixon's era or Nixon's administration is you're having the civil rights movement come about. So you have black people that for years and years and years were, quote, unquote, in their place. And so now you have these black people starting to have sitting, starting to have marches, all these things. And so you're like, hold up. They are out of their place, so we need a way to control them. And so civil rights leaders, and you say, oh, they had drugs on them. Oh, they were a drug addict. They did this, that, and the third. And now the public is against it. Law and order is a term that you all have probably heard of. The law and order rhetoric was used a lot with the civil rights movement. What happens is when people use the word law and order, people are scared of chaos. People don't like chaos. People don't like crime. And so most people, even black people, agree, yes, we want law and order. And so this War on drugs that happened, it was made up. Drugs weren't that huge of a discourse, huge of a thing within the United States. It is very much you are giving credence and you are justifying why you need to incarcerate these people. So now the fact that you're incarcerating all these people, no one sees that as a bad thing. 

One quote I always like to say is, one of the top Nixon aides said this and he said, the Nixon campaign in 1968 and the Nixon White House after that had "two enemies, the anti war left and black people. We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and the blacks of heroin and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know that we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

 And so within the Nixon campaign, you start pushing that drugs are bad, you start pushing that black people are doing this, you start pushing that hippies are doing this, and people get scared. So now, especially when you get to Reagan and you're calling it a War on drugs, we need to fight and defeat the enemy. It's necessary to rage a new all out offensive. So now that you're putting drugs as enemy of the state, now you have the disposal of the United States justice system. President Clinton came along and did the Violent Crime Control Law Enforcement Act in 94. Which? Militarized Police Department. These are setting up for a very large increase in incarceration, specifically targeting black and brown communities. And now I have a way to control a population that I feel is out of hand. When they were just trying to fight.

[27:45] Boogie: For their rights, like the crack cocaine situation, you might have a black guy that got caught with a key of crap, you know what I'm saying? And the white guy got caught with a key of coke or whatever the situation may be, and the white guy might get five years and the black guy might get a life sentence.

[28:01] Dr. Gatewood: So the hundred to ratio is 100 grams of cocaine versus 1 gram of crack. So they got the same sentence. Cocaine was typically used by upper middle class people and you have cracks used by lower class people because it is cheaper. Same drug, just different forms. So the law is not going to say, hey, we're going to do it so that black people and brown people are going to be criminalized more. But when you have a law that says 100 to one, then you have bias that happens. So these type of laws are made so that certain people will get higher sentences.

[28:36] Marcella: The 100 to one ratio is a good place, I think, to explore how sometimes money is used as a code language for race. And this is one way that the system continues to target black, brown, indigenous and other people. And in that case, criminalizing. The cheaper version of the same drug being used in white communities is a way to target black people. And also money can keep you out of the system all the time. And people end up in jail all the time because they're poor.

[28:59] Boogie: So even today, as you see, even today in the criminal justice system today, you see the blacks, the brown being convicted and confined because they can't afford lawyers, they can't afford fees, they can't afford none of these things, just like back in the days. So what do you do with a person that can't afford these things? Provide them legal services, as they put it known that these public defendants is not going to fight the same fight knowing that the fight, even that they're fighting, we have no knowledge of. People don't actually go to jail because they do bad things. People go to jail, the majority of what I've seen is because they had bad representation. And what I mean because of bad representation is because keep in mind that the black and the brown people, nine times out of ten, they're poverty stricken, they poor, they have no finances to pay lawyer fees or legal fees- just like convict leasing. Same thing. You see the similarity. The same thing. They know for a fact that the black person ordinarily cannot afford a lawyer. They know he cannot afford no kind of representation. So therefore, what they do, they give him a public defender. What a public offender does, they come with him, man with plea bargains, all sorts of different things which will enable them to lock him up.

[30:25] Dr. Gatewood: We all know our Miranda Rights have heard it. A lawyer will be given to you. You cannot afford one. But public defenders are overworked and underpaid. And so if they're overworked and underpaid, then they might only have 20 minutes with the person that they are supposed to represent. A lot of people are in jail right now because they just can't pay for it. And so if I am from a poor neighborhood and I only have, let's say, $100 to my name and they set my bail at $300, I can't pay that, and so I won't be able to get out. I also can't pay for a lawyer.

[31:04] Marcella: There is so much criminalization of poverty that happens in the system. And I think it's also important to recognize that the reason this works is because all of the institutions in the United States have systematically disenfranchised black, brown and indigenous people from the start of colonization. And so every time we're talking about race, we are also talking about class and vice versa.

[31:24] Dr. Gatewood: And so over time, you see from slavery until now, there's different laws that have come about and different things that have come out over our history within the United States that makes it so that certain people are going, to be incarcerated and targeted more than others. And then their labor is going to be used and exploited so that certain people can gain.

[31:44] Marcella: And so far we've been focusing just on systemic injustices that target specific communities to have contact with the system and to get arrested and incarcerated. But then there's also what happens once you get inside the prison and then once you get out of the prison. And the discrimination and the bias that we're talking about happens in all of these places.

[32:03] Dr. Gatewood: Once you're in prison, there is discrimination.

[32:06] Boogie: That happens there even while you are locked up in prison serving time. The white person is treated differently than the black person. How so? The officers treat them differently, more respect. They get everything they want from the administration, whereas though, the black person, we have to fight hard for it just to get the accommodation that we need. For example, if we had ten black guys that go into recreation yard, the federal system call themselves demonstrating for a purpose. They'll take all of them to the hole. They will have what's called the goon squad will come and take all of them to the hole by force or by choice. Now, let it be ten white guys that go on the recreation yard for the same particular reason. You have every officer from the lieutenants to the captains to the Mate, everybody coming out there trying to ask them, what is it? Are you all okay? What is it you all want? How can we help? How can we help the matter? Same thing. Racism is inside and outside of prisons.

[33:16] Dr. Gatewood: Even once you get out of the prison system or jail system, and even going to parole supervision, there's discrimination that can happen there. You have white people getting out at higher rates than black people, even if they came in with the same crime, even if they all been on, quote unquote, good behavior. And so you have discrimination when it happens there. So let's say most people have a curfew. If I have to be in curfew by 10:00, and let's say I am on the bus on the way back home from my job because I had to work late, and I get home at 1030, depending on who your parole probation officer, they could say, oh, 1030, that's after your curfew. So you could go back to prison because you violated. So it's very much at the discretion, of course, because of discretion, certain people get favor over others.

[34:07] Boogie: Even after you served your time in prison and you get out of prison, you're still not free. You're subjected to all the stereotypes and ill treatments by everybody. They still look at you different. You can't get certain jobs because of it.

[34:22] Marcella: What do you hope for the future? Or what would your hopes for the future be if people started to understand what happens on the inside?

[34:31] Boogie: Well, I would want society to know that I'm not saying that everybody that's confined is guiltless for having that patient just go scot free. Now. That's what I'm saying. I'm saying sometimes if society invests into programs that will go behind the scenes and see what causes, I don't think that they look at the solution. I think that they're looking more for the monetary gain. My experience in prison can have people at all, whatever the situation may be. But I'm not marketing myself for any money or whatever. It's bigger than that. Like I said, I'm an extended voice. I will continue to be an extended voice for those who have no voice, because I've been there. I know the experiences on every level.

[35:29] Marcella: Thank you for listening. And for now, here's a few quick previews of some of the things we'll get into later. 

[35:36] Saif: The night I was incarcerated for the first time, I feel 16 year old just being incarcerated for the first time, I feel it was an accomplishment, not accomplishment being incarcerated, an accomplishment making it so old being incarcerated. Because where I come from, it's, like, normal to see people being incarcerated at the age of 11, 12, definitely by the age of 15, definitely after being confined for so many years. 

Boogie: My family in prison has been more of a family to me than my family because these are the individuals that I sleep around every day, that I see every day, that I talk to every day. So therefore, we have a closeness that's indefinable, indescribable that only a person that shared the same connectivity can basically understand. And just to leave that behind because there are people in these conditions that's never coming home. The same people that I should walk the yard with, that could be in the cell with, that I've cried with, and the fact that I'm going home right now, leaving them behind. A piece of me is being left behind and a piece of me is being taken. A piece of them, rather. This is something that my family would never understand. This street. They will never understand this.

[37:07] Marcella: Thank you so much to everyone who helped collaborate and create this episode. First. Thank you again to Baya Group, Griffin Legacy and Associates and the Liberation and Justice Project Foundation who make this project possible. Thank you to Boogie and Dr. Gatewood for being guests. Your time means a lot. And a special thank you to Ameenah Ritson for the music used in this episode. Ameenah is herself a survivor of the penal system. In addition to the original music you heard today, Ameenah is also the founder of Reach to Teach Early Education, so her socials will be linked on our web page. You can learn more about our guests and their background, contact us, as well as access episode transcripts from our web page. So the web page lives at Thanks again for listening to episode one of Sending Kites, and more episodes will be coming soon.

[37:58] Boogie: And this is the beginning. I'm saying it's not the end. It's the beginning of something. I feel, though, that can reach other people and can be of some value to some degree, hopefully, anyway.