Celebrating Thanksgiving in a Prison Visiting Room
Date:  11-03-2016

Sadness, tinged with the hope of clemency, permeates prison visiting rooms across the country as the holiday season kicks off
From The Influence:

One week ago, on October 26, an additional 98 people received clemency from President Obama, bringing his total so far to 862.

Clemencies for incarcerated women is a particular focus of mine, having been one of them myself for over nine years of a 24-year conspiracy sentence. So I was overjoyed to see three names I recognized on this latest list: Alicia Siller, Olynthia Hinton. and Reisa Pettiette.

Yet, with a by-now-familiar sensation of torn feelings, I was also heartsick when I realized they were the only three women’s names on the list. A growing chorus of voices are crying out for the freedom of Alice Johnson, for example, a first offender serving life. No gun was involved in her case, and she profited little from being a middle-person between a buyer and a seller of drugs after she was laid off from her job at FedEx. Her clemency application has the support of her Warden, of three Congress members and a slew of notable members of her community. And yet, her name is missing from each and every list. She has been incarcerated since 1996.

While I applaud every winner of this clemency lottery, I cannot square the way that Alice and so many women, like Michelle West, featured in a Revolt TV documentary that aired yesterday, get the short end of the stick.

As we move into November, and I contemplate all those people, fantasizing about receiving the best news of their lives, I can’t help but drift back to my own memories of what the holidays are like in prison. Read more here.