I may have committed a crime, of which I am more than willing to accept the punishment, but I am still human…am I not a man and a brother?

If a report was released about automobile manufacturers and it proved that 67% off all vehicles produced in the United States were delivered to the American public broken, people would be outraged. If a service you bought and paid for was only working 33% of the time, like cable or cell phone service or lawn maintenance, but you still had to pay for it by government decree…you would be outraged, there would be rioting in the streets.

Why is prison different? People come to prison and it has a national average of 67% recidivism, which means it is a public service that is only effective 33% of the time. Yet the loudest request is to “do your time.” If prison sentences stopped crime and victimization then crime would have been eradicated decades ago… don’t you think?

I will be leaving this place a changed person. That’s what I want people to know and I haven’t changed because prison has fostered that. My change has come despite prison, not because of it. And when I get out I will answer the question NOBODY has bothered to ask ANYONE in prison: What would have stopped you from committing your crime?” Doesn’t that amaze you, nobody has bothered to ask?

I can’t stand myself for what I have done, the impact has been great. But that’s why I’m happy, because I know I am not that same person anymore and I don’t have all the answers to prison reform, but I have some, and I have a perfect place to start.

I refuse to just live the rest of my days with my head cowed down and my eyes cast averted while I scrape human kindness from the bottoms of someones shoes. I am happy with who I am today, this minute, because I am not the same person anymore. Nobody is gonna take that away.

Newsflash, I have been through hate. I have both hated and been hated, I have faced people who possessed the mind to mutilate me and told me daily they were just waiting for the right time, I have been told to off myself, never leave prison, stop writing, shut up, stop trying, give up, and all this in abundance. But check this out, I care about my community and I CAN help reduce victimization, I love, I care, I hope, I help, I share and I ain’t never gonna stop.

Judge away, just know I ain’t gonna stop and listen anymore, I got things to do.

With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage