The L.E.T. Project – A.J. is not feeling it.

A.J. said he is going through a down time right now. I don’t really know how to respond to him right now. Sometimes people need to be left alone in order to ponder and think. 

What is crazy is that I also heard from my cousin who is doing time. I haven’t heard from him until now. He gave me a lot of insight of what it’s like to be an inmate. His biggest gripe was the traumatic effects of being institutionalized. Losing his ability to be a man. He has a fiance and he sometimes has to beg her for commissary money to get by. He told me stories of him working in the jail cafeteria, only to get paid 13 bucks a month. He is in prison right now getting paid 21 bucks a month cutting hair. It is insane how jail is literally legal slavery. My cousin wrote me an 8 page letter, which really shocked me because I heard that he didn’t write at all. He apologized for not responding, and promised to start responding from now on. All sins are forgiven in my book. Besides, he has 9 more years of mail that I will send to him, compared to zero. Once people get thrown in jail, they often get forgotten about and abandoned. No one wants to talk to them or hire them because they wear a felon jacket. No one wants to hire them or deal with them period. I can’t erase the public’s stigma of inmates, but it is really sad when you commit a mistake at 18 years old as a black man, you get the maximum punishment that someone of a different background may get a fair sentence for. All that I can do is tell these inmates to read books and become self taught geniuses. Take advantage of correctional facility programs that are available to them. I want to see these guys become more successful than me. For some it may or may not happen. There could be underlying drug issues or mental illness, so it could be a complete crap shoot for all I know, but it is worth the effort.

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