“You will never be free until you free yourself from the prison of your own false thoughts.”
- Philip Arnold
May 15, 2010 - Rikers Island, the Bronx, NY City.
Dark, empty, cold. The room stood silently at the end of the corridor. The fluorescent lights
flickered as the walls screamed out in pain. The lifeless shadowed figures curled up in the
corners of their cells, whispering their demented secrets. He dragged his feet across the smooth
floor, the cross around his neck swaying with his gait. His new orange uniform hung from his
scrawny figure. The guards removed his handcuffs and his fingers clutched the cell bars, a futile
attempt to resist entering his new life. He howled, rattling the bars, throwing himself around,
shouting about the conspiracy. They tackled him to the ground; restrained him and threw him
into the SHU, slamming the iron door.
* * *
I keep imagining the same thing over and over again, a fortress being disassembled at its own
will. Bricks being removed exposing its weak foundations. A paradise being ripped apart piece
by piece. What is this place you ask? It’s my mind. It’s my entire conscience being torn out of
place. Tortured until it bleeds out and gives up. I can feel the support getting weaker and I’m
scared that it’s going to collapse. At this point, I’m not sure if I’m dead or alive. In this state of
purgatory, days pass slowly and I can feel the connection between my brain and my emotions
slowly deteriorating. These grey walls are a constant reminder that I am past the point of
repentance. I feel as though I am in the seventh circle of Dante’s Inferno and my form is already
changing. I look down at my cold metallic bed, poisonous thoughts of depression and anger
plague my mind. I rip up the tattered sheets and begin tying a continuous line of cloth. I wrap the
creation around my skinny neck and feed the tail through the light fixture. I know the Lord will
punish me for this. I begin to pull as hard as I can.
June 27, 2015 - Manhattan, New York
As the Iron door slowly opened, light flooded into the room. His eyes pierced with pain as they
tried to adjust. The warden stood outside the cell and offered his hand. He took the man into his
office, his place of power. The office was painted a dull green, and it had only one window,
which faced directly into the prison courtyard. On the desk sat a folder full of paperwork marked
with the name Samson Edwards. After a brief discussion, the warden walked him to the gate of
the prison and released his handcuffs, revealing scars and blood around his wrists.
Today Mr Samson Edwards was released from Rikers Island Jail due to new evidence found,
proving him innocent. He had served five years for armed robbery. Sam had lost 20 pounds. He
managed to survive two suicide attempts and developed a new tic - tightly closing his eyes as if
blinking back bad thoughts. But the biggest change, his mother said, was in his face. It had
hardened. A deep crease ran along the...