This is the second post in our new series Voices from the Inside, which asks individuals who are currently incarcerated in Illinois county jails the question: What kind of world do you want to return to?
“I would like to return to a world where I’m not so easily cancelled! I’m living proof of America’s failed War on Drugs. My future was taken away from me before I even had the right to vote. I was sentenced to prison as a young teen, despite not having much of a juvenile record. I was old enough in the law’s eyes to get into adult trouble, but still too young to fully know how this would impact the rest of my life. I grew up at a time as a youth when I was bombarded with commercials stating that young black males were endangered species. I had many family and friends who were being murdered in the streets. So I never expected to live to see the age of 21, let alone think about my future. The recidivism rate in this county would be a lot less if convicted felons were given the same opportunity to provide for themselves and their families as non-felons. I should not be given a life sentence of hardships and obstacles for a mistake that I made when I was only 16 years old. I don’t consider myself to be a bad person, but because of my conviction unfortunately employers do and this by itself hinders me from providing for myself and my family. When I watch movies I don’t root for the bad guy. I always root for the good guys! I may not mean anything to a vast majority of people, but to my kids, I’m their hero! I want for myself and my kids what every other American wants for themselves and their families. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be consequences for one’s actions, but that action shouldn’t follow me and define me for the rest of my life. I wanna return to a world where I’m given the same chance to succeed as the next person who’s willing to put in the work and sacrifice needed to live the American Dream.”
—Christopher H., Kendall County Jail, Illinois