My Voice

My Voice- T. Davis

MDOC INMATE: Toby R. Davis MDOC #: 234179 AKA: Naeem Nusaga AGE: 45 LOCATION: Thumb Correctional Facility PASSION: Writer/ Poet/ Published Author ALL COMMENTS WELCOMED @: ——————————————————————

Today, the Michigan Department of Corrections house roughly 34,000 inmates in its warehouse facilities throughout the State of Michigan. For the majority of these convicted felons, they will one day return back to their respective community after paying their dues to society for the crime(s) to which they were convicted and sentenced to a term of years.

When I first entered into the prison system in 1995, quite noticeably were the various educational programs and vocational classes that were available to each individual prisoner, who had the fervent desire to use their time wisely by furthering their education and engaging themselves in some kind of trade that he could potentially utilize upon his release to be better equipped to thrive in the outside world. Fast forward to the year 2020, and now we’re talking about a whole different ball games without a free-throw line! The MDOC have since abolished most of these programs in the system that once were available and have more or less made it even harder for certain inmates, particularly the ones who are serving Life Sentences or Long Indeterminate Sentences. Unfortunately, the programs that’s available in the system today, one has to be at least within 6 to 7 years to their earliest release date, which means if you’re serving 20 years in prison, you’re prohibited from taking any college courses by mail, Builders Trades, or even Culinary Arts until you have served two thirds of your time. Even then, one can only sign up to take the class and the waiting period could be another 2 or 3 years prior to entry.

I learned early on that the prison institution can be one of two things for you: It can be your tombstone; or your steppingstone. Luckily for me, I’ve chosen the latter. Even though they have made it more difficult to participate in these programs, I believe we must educate ourselves and further our mental cognition by any means necessary. And I try to be an example of that by way of my actions. Being that I’m serving a long indeterminate sentence behind a wrongful conviction, I still have faith in God and opted to not allow anything to obstruct me from becoming a better man through spiritual elevation. Since I been in prison, I have achieved my High School Equivalency Certificate (I thank God for my teacher, Mr. Brown, who had convinced me at that time that I was much smarter than I thought) and from there I achieved Custodial Maintenance Technology, Blood Bourne Pathogens Program, Introduction to Computers, Tech Math, Keryx Program, and I have penned three books so far. My latest book is a self-help guide that’s geared towards helping young Black American youth avoid cultural pitfalls and strive to be positive role models in their community by leveraging their mental state of mind. The mind is the most difficult thing to open, but once it is, it knows no bounds!!!

In conclusion, we (the forgotten) shouldn’t be completely abandoned by American society. After all, we simply reflect of that which needs to be corrected in it, such as fractured homes, poor education, gang initiation, drug infiltration, gun saturation, mass incarceration, and lack of opportunities that’s rooted in social oppression. Therefore, we’ve all have fallen short at some point or another in life, but yet deserve a second chance to get it right. After all, we are not simply a prison number to be counted during count time, but more accurately human beings – descriptively someone’s beloved son, brother, uncle, or father who long to be healed by the power of love, compassion, and understanding. [If] we could only re-imagine a world that set out to truly “correct;” instead of condemning its citizens by providing the necessary tools required to open the door to greatness. [If] we could only re-imagine a world that set out to see the best in each person; instead of the worse, I will argue then, and only then, will America begin to live up to its biggest promise that’s anchored in justice, equality and freedom for all.

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