Najet Miah in 2010 (left) and today.

Prison Brought Me Back to Allah

I scrolled down my Instagram feed when I spotted it. It was an image of a jail cell on Rikers Island. Below was a caption that read, “Free studio apartment in a gated community with ocean views and vintage style rod-iron double doors. Excellent security and free laundry.”

What Do You Want to Be?

Warning: What you are about to hear I wish on no one. That is why I am writing you this letter.

Miracle at State Correctional Institution Forest

Juan (name changed), convicted of aggravated assault at 21, has been in solitary for five years. He has seen and experienced it all: brutal cell extractions, hunger strikes, flooded pods and endless hours spent screaming at his cell door.

When the Fear Returns

The first time I saw a stabbing victim was my second day in prison. I heard screams coming from the hallway, and then an officer came into view, dragging a prisoner by his shirt. The victim was moaning in pain and the officer was asking him who “stuck” him. I stood holding the bars, watching the scene with a kind of detachment that made it surreal. I was terribly frightened.

Shining a Light in the Darkness of Prison

Reading saved my life. I can only guess at how many books I read in my nearly 25 years of incarceration. I feel certain that it is easily over a thousand. For me, the longer and more detailed the book was the better. One perfect book was To Kill a Mockingbird.

For One Former Inmate, A New Life

NEW YORK — Getting shot was probably a critical turning point in Ray Tebout’s life, he says. It was 1990. Tebout had just turned 16 and was living on the streets of the South Bronx, selling drugs and doing his best to survive. And then some guy had to go and shoot him in the foot. The day of the shooting Tebout was on the corner selling drugs when “a guy wanted something from me,” he said.