Due to the recent events that have taken place with the Muslim and non-Muslims through the world I have been asked many questions about these events. One of the questions that comes up all the time is, “Why are the Muslim leaders not speaking out about these issues?” Maybe one is looking for a CNN report of Muslim Leaders speak out against terrorist acts. This may not happen in the manner which some may deem to be the right approach. What I can say is these acts are being spoken out against.

As a Muslim, who tries to protect himself from the misguidance of these various groups, I can say that the senior and reputable scholars from across the Muslim lands have been speaking about, and warning about these groups, the likes of these groups, their origins and misguidance for many years. Long before what we have been witnessing today. Unfortunately, these scholars have come under attack because some of them happen to come from the land of Saudi Arabia. May westerns like to paint Saudi Arabia and its citizens with a broad negative brush. In doing so they sometimes overlook the role these scholars play in speaking out against these act.

I want to provide people with accurate statements from some senior Muslim Scholars. Some of these statements are back dated. To show that this refutation of the Muslim leaders is nothing new. But that they have been speaking up, out and condemning these acts. Some of them have even encouraged the Muslim in the non Muslim lands to work with the authorities in apprehending those responsible for these acts. I want to say, that as a Muslim who follow the sunnah, that there is no place in the true religion of Islam that promotes, commends or encourages the taking the lives of innocent people. Even when those people are provocative.

The first statement is from an Algerian Scholar by the name of Sheikh Abdul Malik ar Ramadani al Jaza’ri, and his statements with regards to the group called ‘Salafi Group for Daw’ah and Combat’, an Algerian group.

“How can, with all of this, making permissible the blood of the police and killing them, be permitted? Then they live on the stolen money which have been ransacked from the people by force! They destroy the souls of the Muslim soldiers…We absolve ourselves for Allah from the group ‘Salafist Group for Dawah and Combat’ and from all those who grasp weapons today in our country against the system or the people.

This is the statement from the Grand Mufti and others denouncing the 2005 London bombing. This article appeared in the Arab News

The Kingdom’s grand mufti yesterday strongly denounced the deadly blast that rocked London, saying Islam strictly prohibits the killing of innocent people. He also censured the terrorists for tarnishing the image of Islam by attaching their heinous crimes to the religion. The explosions that ripped through central London’s transport system on Thursday, “targeting peaceful people, are not condoned by Islam, and are indeed prohibited by our religion.” Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency. “Attributing to Islam acts of individual or collective killings, bombings, destruction of properties and the terrorizing of peaceful people is unfair, because they are alien to the divine religion,” said the mufti, who is also head of the Council of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority. “Islam is a religion of reforms and righteousness. It envisages the progress of humanity and takes it from darkness into light. It also calls for respecting agreements and prohibits their violations,” the mufti said referring to accords binding governments. “Causing corruption on earth is one of the biggest crimes in Islam.” he explained.

Sheikh Abdul Mushin Al Obaikan, a senior Saudi scholar and a Shoura member, said there was no justification, whatsoever, for the killing of innocent people. Speaking to MBC television, he urged all members of the Muslim community in Britain to cooperate with British authorities in tracking down the criminals behind the attack.

Imam Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen of Saudi Arabia, who is now deceased, gave a talk right before his death and said, with regards to the Muslim living abroad in non Muslim lands. This talk was given during a Tele-Link July 2000 in Birmingham UK. He was a leading scholar and has been addressing this issue for many years.

“Likewise I invite you to have respect for those people who have the right that they should be respected, from those between you and who there is an agreement . For the land which you are living in is such that there is an agreement between you and them. If this were not the case. they cold have killed you or expelled you. So preserve this agreement, and do not prove treacherous to it, since treachery is a sign of the hypocrites, and it s not from the way of the Believers. And know that it is authentically reported from the Prophet that he said. “Whoever kills one who is under an agreement of protection will not smell the fragrance of Paradise.” Do not be deceived by the saying of foolish people who say, Those people are not Muslim. so their wealth is lawful for us.” For I swear by Allah-this is a lie; a lie about Allah’s religion, and a lie that Islamic societies (hold to be true). So we may not say that it is lawful to be treacherous towards people whom we have an agreement with. O my brothers. O youth. O Muslims. Be truthful in your buying and selling, and renting, and leasing, and in all mutual transactions, Because truthfulness is from the characteristics of the Believes, and Allah, the Most High, has commanded truthfulness, “O you who believe-keep your duty to Allah, and be truthful” (9:119) And the Prophet encouraged truthfulness and said, ” Adhere to truthfulness, because truthfulness leads to goodness and goodness leads to Paradise; and a person will continue to be truthful, and strive to be truthful until he is written down with Allah as a truthful person.” And he warned against falsehood, and said, “Beware of falsehood because falsehood lead to wickedness and wickedness leads to the Fire. And a person will continue lying and striving to lie until he is written down with Allah as a great liar.” O my brother Muslims. O youth. Be true to your saying with your brothers, and with those non Muslims whom you live along with – so that by your actions, you will be inviters to the religion of Islam- in reality. And indeed, how many people first entered into Islam because of the behavior and manners of the Muslims, and their truthfulness, and their being true in their dealings.

This is the specific advice to all the Muslims living in non Muslim societies. The call for peace and respect for the laws in those lands.

Where did this modern idea of Islamic Revolution come from? Many people do not know the origins and history of those that spurned these movements. This is just a little education background information for the reader.

The idea of this Modern Islamic revolution began in 1928, in Egypt. This ideology was started by Hassan Al-Banna, who was influenced by a man name Rashid Rida, and was popularized through the writing of Sayyid Qutb. Both of them were killed by the Egyptian government, Al-Banna in 1948 and Qutb in 1966, but the ideology had spread far and wide. The name of this group is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Due to their desire to create an Islamic State they held the belief that all Muslims who had the same goal could join with them. That they should unite upon what they agree on and forgive each other were they disagree. The statement is one that has caused a lot of murkiness, in terms of identifying these various groups.

The main objective of this group is to establish an Islamic State by any means necessary, even by massive bloodshed. The methodology continues today, through groups that attach Jihad to their slogans. They call for the bloodshed of the Muslim rulers, leaders, and innocent people.

What is important to know is that many Muslim leaders have been speaking out against and fighting against these acts for many years now. When a child begins to show problems at home it is a clear sign the child will be problematic outside the home. These Muslim leaders are the first to speak out against this problematic child, as the problem starts in their home, on their land. When the problem reaches our land and citizens it is almost too late.

It is understandable that others show their anger towards Muslims and what they think is Islam but is this the right approach to take. To demonstrate anger with angry acts leads to more anger-led acts. The goal is to remove the anger and hate in order to come to a peaceful medium.

It is not fair to the Muslims when guys such as Anjem Choudhary are given air time on major news networks, such as CNN, to explain the rational, to defend or deny terrorist acts. His ignorant speech provokes more anger and misunderstanding. He is not a representative to the truth and should not be listened to. Let alone taken as a source of Islamic reasoning, whether it be good or bad. It is incumbent for people to resort to those that have the correct knowledge of these affairs for explanations.

In closing, I say and with firm convictions, that these acts are un-Islamic and heinous. These acts have created a hatred for a religion that is peaceful. These acts are to be shunned wherever they are perpetrated, by whomever. I also say that as I write this those Muslim leaders, who many would consider to be hard-line, are speaking against these anti-Islamic acts. They have condemned this acts and have advised the Muslims in this land, and others, to condemn and speak out against these acts.

When President Obama was elected President of the United States he promised to have a transparent administration. This would ensure those whom he elected as Government officials would be transparent in their job functions.

I want to discuss what happens when there is no transparency, and little or no oversight, with some of these elected officials.

What I have here is the summary testimony of Dr. James Austin, of the JFA Institute, before the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight, and Governmental Reform Subcommittee of Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia.

He States:

My testimony today is based on a study I recently completed for the US Parole Commission. The Commission wanted to know if the criteria it is using to parole prisoners sentenced prior to 2000 under the old DC sentencing code or to revoke parole criteria are significant as they can serve to significantly lengthen a prisoner’s period of imprisonment by many years.

The Study also looked at the extent to which DC prisoners who are housed in the BOP system were receiving programs and what impact those programs were having on recidivism rates. The detailed results of the study and the full report have been forwarded to the Committee.

The major findings of the study were as follows:

1. DC prisoners released in 2002 who had been sentenced under the DC code prior to August 2002 as compared to other state prisoners had much longer sentences and served longer prison terms.

2. About two thirds (67%) of the prisoners released in 2002 were re-arrested at least one time, 52% were re-convicted and 37% were returned to the custody if the BOP within three years of being released from prison. These rates are comparable to other states.

3. The average number of arrests (1.9) during this three year post release period is much lower than the rate of arrests three years for the same prisoners prior to their incarcerated (5.9). In effect the rate of arrests dropped by over 60% (from 5.9 to 1.9 arrest per prisoners).

4. The types of crimes being committed by the released DC prisoners are similar to other states in that they vast majorities are non-violent in nature.

5. Consistent with other studies, the amount of time imprisoned (length of stay) is not associated with rates of recidivism.

6. Most of the factors being used by the Commission to assess risk are not good predictors of recidivism.

7. An alternative risk instrument that relies on the conduct of the prisoner and programs he or she has completed while in the BOP does a better job of assessing the prisoner risk level.

8. The Commission is also using factors (crime severity and prior record )that are not related to recidivism that are being used to significantly extend the period of imprisonment.

9. For parole violators the amount of time served for a technical violation can exceed the original sentence.

10. This practice is placing too much emphasis on the SFS as criteria for revocations – especially given the lack of prediction in the instrument as shown earlier.

Based on these findings the following recommendations have been made to the Commission and the BOP.

1. Change the guidelines and implement a new risk instrument that takes into account the prisoners conduct while incarcerated (dynamic factors).

2. Discontinue the use of factors being used to enhanced presumptive release dates and replace them with a simple offense/risk level matrix.

3. Alter the current practice of extending parole eligibility dates solely on offense severity and history of violence; especially given the long period of incarceration for DC prisoners and the lack of relationship between length of time served and recidivism.

4. Review its parole revocation grid and allow for much shorter periods of incarceration with the assumption that low risk parolees shall not be re-incarcerated for low severity violations.

5. There should be a concerted effort to reduce the length of imprisonment and parole supervision based on good conduct and completion of programs while incarcerated within the BOP. Such efforts would include allowing release at the earlier stage of sentence, awarding of good-time credits for prisoners who complete rehabilitative programs and allowing for the period of the parole supervision to be reduced based on good conduct.

6. Given the dynamic factors related to prisoner completion of rehabilitative programs are associated to lower recidivism rates, a study should be conducted by the Commission and the Bureau of Prisons to determine if DC sentenced prisoners are receiving the same level of services as other BOP prisoners.

I have briefed the Commission, the BOP and the US Department of Justice on this study and its policy implication. Based on that meeting the Commission has agreed to initiate a project that will result in a revised risk instrument and new guidelines for 1) the release of DC prisoners sentenced under the “old” indeterminate sentencing guidelines, 2) the imposition of conditions of parole supervision (both old and new law sentenced prisoners and 3) the revocation of community/parole supervision.

The project will also include the Bureau of Prisons, the DC Sentencing Commission, the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the US Attorney, and the Community Supervision of Offenders Agency (CSOSA).

It is expected that these new guidelines will increase the rate of parole for “old” sentenced prisoners and reduce the number of prisoners being revoked and returned to prison – especially the length of time of the imprisonment for a revocation. I expect these new guidelines to be completed by this summer.

First I want to say that I received this memo in the year of 2009. It has been 6 years since this testimony has taken place. I have seen the parole board twice in that time.

I want to given a brief account of my experiences with the Parole Board and you can judge if 1. what the Commission agreed to is being upheld, as mention in Dr. Austin’s testimony and 2. if I fit the criteria’s of what would be ideal for release on parole. After hearing of these accounts the next question is who is willing to hold the Commission accountable when they do not abide by the transparency that the President has required for all of his cabinet members.

What happened to me is what happens when there is no oversight and nor transparency, as the Commissions refuse to respond to letters written from many supporters, as to why I am being dealt with harshly, when seen by the parole board. They want to know how is it a person who fits all the criteria, and more, is made to do more prison time; especially in light of the Commissions agreeing, in front of the House of Representatives, to changing the practice they used in the past.

In the year 2010 I had my first parole hearing. I was scored as a 2, which meant that I was eligible for parole. Due to the nature of the offense, second degree murder, it was recommended that I receive a 1 year set off for a rehearing. Due to the seriousness of the offense I understood his reasoning.

At the time of the 2010 hearing I had completed all of the required programs, and other programs. I had strong outside support and employment upon release. I had served the time I was sentenced to, I was sentenced to 20 years to life and my initial parole date was set at the 85% mark of that sentence. When I saw the parole board I had completed 17 years, 85%. When the hearing examiner made the recommendations he made it based on a prior juvenile conviction. I was a juvenile, 17, at the time of committing this offense; I was charged, convicted and sentenced as an adult.

The recommendation the hearing examiner made was consistent with the DC 1987 sentencing and parole guidelines. When the Commissioners reviewed it they set me off 3 years. They disregarded the recommendation of a 1 year set off, took me outside the guidelines and gave me 3 years.

In 2013 I had my re-hearing. I continued to program and abide by the rule of the prison. I had sought other certifications outside of prison and earned, paid for by my money, other skills that could be used upon release. I began to teach “Victim Impact” classes and other cognitive behavior programs that were popular through the prison, as a result I worked, through these program, with the Associate Warden of Programs of the institution. She was in fact my staff representative at my parole hearing.

At that hearing it was noted by the hearing examiner that I was a better candidate for parole the second time than I was the first time. She was impressed that I had maintained clear conduct, considering the length of the first set off of 3 years. She was equally impressed that my staff representative was the Associate Warden, it gets no higher than this as far as recommendations within the prison. As a result the hearing examiner recommended parole.

The Commissioners made a decision to set me off 5 years to a rehearing. FIVE YEARS!! For what! For being a good inmate, for having the skills needed to be a responsible citizen upon release, for having family ties and support in the community, for having a job awaiting me upon release, for not getting into trouble while doing the set off of 3 years, for having someone who runs the prison, one who is hired and entrusted to oversee the day to day activities of inmates, speak well on my behalf! Unbelievable!

What is going to happen and change in 5 more years? The role of the Parole board is to release prisoners at a time when they have serve an appropriate amount of the sentence, that which is compatible to the sentence handed down by the courts.

They also are to make decisions based on the conduct of the prisoner. It is not the function of the parole board to act in a manner where they decide, based on personal opinions and feelings, as to when a person is ready to return back to society, if they have satisfied the sentence of the courts and maintained clear conduct during their incarceration.

The United States Parole Commission is, and will always act in an unfair and biased manner. All of the Commissioners have backgrounds in law enforcement. The head Commission was the Chief of Police of DC, and responsible for the arrest of many DC prisoners, he also lost a close relative to homicide. How can he or any of the other Commissioners act in a unbiased manner when they have spent their whole lives and careers chasing down the “bad guy” to lock him up. Or have suffered the lost of love ones due to crime. They now find themselves in a position to let go the same guys they locked up! Really!

The mindset is punitive and often unforgiving. They are acting in a manner that shows biasness and unfairness, due to the nature of a persons offense, although a person has 1. been incarcerated many years and demonstrate behavior in that shows remorse for their crimes. They have acquired programs that will make them less likely to commit crimes and victimize in the future. Doing time does not determine not persuade one to not commit crime. It is what they do with the time spent incarcerated that determines that.

I have spent my time in a productive manner and the reward for doing good is to do more time! Although I have done over the 20 years the courts sentenced me to.

It is time the Parole Commissioners begin to offer legitimate reasons for their actions. No one is asking that crime and punishment be taken lightly, but that freedom is given to those that deserve it; those who have, show remorse by acting in a manner that show change, in behavior and actions.

It is time the public begin to ask questions and demand answers. As long as the public is silent about the Commissioners actions they will continue to act in a punitive manner, abusing the power they have.

The old policies do not work; in fact the Justice Dept is looking for ways to right the wrongs of an unjust sentencing guideline. The government is looking for ways to climb out of deficit, which includes minimizing the cost of incarceration.

The US is slowly turning the ship around they are looking at more productive, fairer and progressive ways to deal with incarceration in America. Why is the US Parole Commission still acting in a manner contrary to the rest of the Criminal Justice System? Is this the type of administration Obama wanted. I know he is not the most popular President, at time time. But, what does it say about a system that will have members of Government testify in front of Congress, yet not hold them to their testimony. What does it say about its citizens who, now, know the truth yet refuse to make it binding on those who made the testimony. It is a disrespect to the moral standard set by the Constitution, to allow this to
continue.

Join us and lets work together and right the wrong. Pass this along to as many people you can, contact us and chime in, contact the media if you have the resources to do so. Ask question to those that work within Government, DC, federal or other to find out the best recourse in holding our government officials liable and responsible when they are wrong.

It as much of a crime to testify in front of Congress and lie as it is to commit a street crime. It is another means deception, lack of accountability, and oversight. It is a crime to keep the acts of those in charge out of the public sight, when they are wrong. There has to be oversight and accountability; or transparency as President Obama promised the American people.

Now it is out in the open and I hope and pray that there people out there willing to help right this wrong. I know it is a chance but this chance is one worth taking.

old lorton (2)

As the race for DC’s Mayoral elections draw near the end things are getting tense. The candidates are out highlighting their points, and making their promises. There is talk of education reform, which is great, the legalization of marijuana, the promise of cleaning up, and addressing issues of abuse within the police force, addressing the need to deal with the poverty and housing issue in DC, gay marriages, and gun laws that will allow DC residents to carry concealed weapons. All hot and controversial topics.

As I try to keep track of the events happening in DC there is an issue that I don’t “ever” hear mentioned. That would be the issue of DC’s prisoners, who are DC’s “forgotten residents”, caught up in the web of Federal Prisons. Those men and women held in prisons far way from home, who do not receive any of the benefits of the new sentencing reforms, imposed by the federal government, who do not get extra halfway house time for completion of the drug program, while federal prisoners get a year off their sentences and extra half-way house time, and most importantly those who are dealt with harshly by The United States Parole Commissioner, who acts on behalf of The DC Parole Board.

What many of the new DC residents may not know, and some of the candidates running for mayor have forgotten, is the DC they have come to know and love has not always been this way. It has not always been a diverse and progressive city, where outsiders are welcomed. In fact many outsiders used to fear coming to DC for fear of being affected by the crime and violence taking place in DC during those times.

During the years between the mid 1980’s to the mid 1990’s DC suffered greatly, and was a city in turmoil. There was a time when crack and sex was sold in McArthur Park, right across the street from the White House. DC was the murder capital of the United States, averaging over 300 murders a year, for consecutive years. The now Head Commissioner of the United States Parole Commission, Isaac Fulwood, was the then Chief of Police. How ironic is that. That the very person that was responsible for the arrest of many DC residents, currently locked up, happens to be the very same person who oversees their release, something he is not willing to do, easily. Talk about a conflict of interest.

There was a time, in DC, where groups of neighborhood residents, The Orange Hats, took to the streets, as neighborhood vigilantes, with walkie-talkies, trying to make citizens arrest in order to take back the streets of DC. Curfews were imposed and DC, once know as The Chocolate City (DC’s unofficial nickname) became known as “The City Under Siege.” Many DC residents were sent to the infamous Lorton Reformatory to serve long sentences for crimes committed during this era of DC’s history.

I was sent to Lorton at the age of 17 in the year 1993 for a term of 20 years to life, and I now sit in federal prison (never having been released from prison) at the age of 39 because the parole board refuse to grant parole. A parole board that imposes a federal standard to prisoners that are not federal prisoners. The courts have ruled against such act, but the Parole Commissioners continue to make parole decisions, for DC prisoners that are eligible for parole, using the same standards they hold federal prisoners to. News flash!!! We are not federal prisoners!! We are DC inmates!

Despite all the events happening in DC, during this time, the Mayor of that time, who many can find fault in, made it his business to come to the facilities and inquire about the conditions of the prison, and the prisoners. He made it easy for guys, who were released, to find jobs in DC. He made us feel as if, despite the fact of being locked up, we were still DC residents, and part of DC’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of today’s candidates. Whether they be those that run for Mayor or other DC council seats. DC prisoners have truly become DC’s “forgotten residents.”

The implementation of the “Revitalization Act” changed DC forever, for the better and the worse. It made it so DC residents could enjoy the now popular places DC is currently known for. The new China-Town, H Street, U Street, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Petworth, Shaw, and all the other places people move to, or visit, DC to be part of.

I recall seeing a picture of Ben’s Chili Bowl in the Washington Post, when Obama was elected President, and thought I was looking at a picture of “Hard Rock Cafe.” Ben’s Chili Bowl, although always a decent place to eat, was a greasy spoon joint. One of the places that did not burn during the 1968 riots. A place many would go to escape the cold winter night, and warm up with a bowl of chili. Ben’s Chili Bowl is, and will forever be a part of DC. Just not the same way I, and others, remember it to be.

The “Revitalization Act” made it so whites and other nationalities could move into the DC and feel safe. DC was a city no one wanted any association with; a city that sent the Mayor to prison for sex and drug crimes. A city that was the laughingstock and butt to many late night pundit jokes. DC has now become the city where many of those same people can walk their dogs throughout Northeast, late at night without fear, and who now enjoy an expanded Capital Hill.

The “Revitalization Act” opened up the doors for outside investors to come and build, which offered more jobs to DC residents, new hospitals, condos and town houses were built, albeit at the expense of the poor. The poor who no longer could go to DC General, and get free medical attention when they fell ill. Who could not afford the prices of rent for the new condos that replaced the projects they once lived in. Charter Schools were introduced and school zones were redrawn. All in all, even at the cost of some of DC’s poorer residents, things began to look better for DC. Everything is new and improved, but no one has yet talked about or fixed the other problem… DC’s “forgotten residents”, those incarcerated in federal prisons.

Where Lorton Reformatory was located 35 minutes from DC, now the closest federal prison is 2 hours and 45 minutes from DC. There are DC prisoners housed in places as far as Atwater, California. There are a few hundred DC inmates housed on the other side of the United States.

At least while housed in Lorton DC, a place close to home, prisoners were made to feel as if they still belonged to DC. The price of communication was 6 cent a minute for a 15 minute phone call. That price is now $2.75 in federal prison. Most guys don’t make enough to pay for those calls, let alone try to help schedule a visit to a place far from home.

DC prisoners also do not receive any benefits federal prisoners receive for the completion of programs. We do not get the 1 year off for the completion of the drug program, we do not get extra half-way house time, we do not benefit from the Second Chance Act. What is the purpose of DC residents being held in federal prisons? What is to gain and who benefits? Surely, DC prisoners don’t.

There was a time when a DC prisoner housed in Lorton could drop his custody level and join a work release program, where they would go to work in DC in the morning and return to the prison at night. There was a time when the incentive based sentencing guidelines would allow for up to 75 extra good days for the completion of programs. There was a time where UDC had a satellite campus in the prison, and DC inmates would attend college and earn degrees. Degrees they would return to DC with, and use to help rebuild the DC communities. The DC Parole Board was lenient and fair, when following the guidelines for release, now it has become a weapon of enforcing punishment where punishment is not needed.

DC prisoners, the “forgotten residents” of DC, are treated harsher than any other prisoners, across the board. They are sentenced to longer terms of incarceration, for the same offenses committed in other states. They are violated for technical parole violations more than other parole violators, in other states. They are sent back to prison for these same violations, more than any other parole violators, in other states. The question must be asked, and answered, what has and what will become of DC prisoners? Those “forgotten DC residents.”

When it comes to DC prisoners no one speaks up, or out. Are we not residents of DC that deserve a voice? Do the concerns of our loved ones become obsolete and dismissed due to our incarceration?

There is a term used in DC, “Returning Citizens”, I assume is supposed to make things better for DC prisoners coming home, to help de-stigmatize “ex-offender.” That is fine and dandy, but did I lose my DC citizenship when I was incarcerated? I had it while in Lorton, but it seems I have now lost it.

No one campaigns for those “forgotten residents” of DC, therefore, many of these prisoners are lost in a system that does not care what happens to them. As far as it is concerned “we” are not “their” problem. If that is the case we become “your” problem. It has been said the feds only job is to house us.

We are long time residents of DC and have as much right to DC and what it offers as a person coming in from another city, to set up shop and begin a new life. I don’t fault those coming in from other cities to relocate but they should know of the plight of DC and what others endured, and continue to endure, throughout the years. They need to hear the stories of those long time residents who have sons and daughters behind bars, who are raising the children of their children. To hear the stories of what took place for DC to become the city they call home.

When they enacted the “Revitalization Act” DC prisoners were sold to the lowest bidder, those agencies who could house for the cheapest price. These “forgotten residents” were not part of the bigger plan to make the city a better place. That has to change. DC’s “forgotten residents” need to have a voice, and their needs have to be heard and attended to, in order to become “Returning Citizens” upon release. It has to be understood that we do in fact matter, and play a critical role in DC politics.

Whatever new plan the new Mayor has for DC, it has to include a plan for those forgotten residents. Someone has to speak for us, or at the very least hear our concerns, and the concerns of our loved ones. Not just hear these concerns but respond to them as well. It would best serve the interest of those who look forward to a future in DC politics. Why?

DC is one of the few places where ex-offenders can obtain and have their voter’s rights re-instated. Mayor Barry knew this and played it well. These “forgotten residents” have the same voter’s rights as any other DC resident. They can gather the support and votes from family members, to support the candidate, who will support the cause of the incarcerated. Someone that will help draw their families closer.

As Returned Citizens these “forgotten residents” may be what stands in the way of one becoming Mayor, or not, of DC, or City Council. Whether they go, or not, to vote, or whether they encourage, or not, others to vote could make a big difference in DC’s Mayoral elections.

I hope that, in the near future, someone begins to notice that there are DC residents who are forgotten about. That they realize that we are part of DC’s infrastructure, and need as much support and assistance as other DC residents.

I hope to shed light on a serious and overlooked issue. I hope to catch the attention of those, who claim to be concerned in the future of DC. We, the “forgotten DC residents” are part of that future, our family and love ones are part of that future.

As you attend these town hall meetings and pose questions to candidates ask them what is their plan to address the needs of those “other” DC residents. DC’s prisoners. Ask them if they even have a plan to address this concern.

Working together change can happen. It does not matter if you’ve lived in DC from the time U Street and H street where streets lined with boarded up, and condemned buildings; buildings that remained boarded up from 1968 to 2000, 32 years these streets produce very little income for DC residents. Or if you just moved here and now enjoy the bars, clubs, cafes, and stores that these same streets offer DC residents. Or if you can remember when only a few subways traveled through DC. Or you now safely travel as far out as Dulles airport.

It does not matter your race, color, creed, or sexual orientation, we have something in common. We are residents of DC and we all share similar concerns. The betterment of DC, on a whole. As a long time DC resident that has been “forgotten”, I ask that you remember us, and speak for us, too.

I have been contemplating blogging about this issue for some time. I know it may cause some controversy. The question is simple.

What does the religion of Islam teach about disagreement, difference and controversy?

Today, we live in a time where people are using the religion of Al Islam to spread hate. As a result many innocent people are being killed and left homeless. It is a tragedy, and quite tragic, to see this type of bloodshed that we are seeing in the news. It is quite tragic to see and hear that others are doing this in the name of Allah, as a means to protect the religion from the “infidels”.

This is not the religion that was sent by Allah to His Prophet Muhammad. The religion of Islam was sent to perfect the character of mankind. Before the time of the Prophet Muhammad the Arab men who were burying their daughters alive, were walking o out and about unclothes, engaging in other vile and despicable behavior. The Prophet, with his message abolished all of these ignorant practices and establish fairness and equality among the people. The Prophet was know as Al-Amin (the Trustworthy). He was known to be a kind, shy and gentle man.

If the example of the Prophet Muhammad is the example set for Muslims how did we get to the point we are at today? How did some of the Muslims get to the point of beheading journalists? How did they get to the point of killing innocent women, children and men? Making them kneel down and shooting them in execution style and left in a hole to rot. This is not the example that the Prophet Muhammad left behind for his followers.

The Prophet was a man who never took revenge for himself. A man who never so much as laid a hand on his servants. He was a man who was known to be soft spoken and never raised his voice.

It was narrated once he was sitting with some Bedouin men and a young child ran up to him. He picked the child up and kissed him on the cheek. The Bedouin man looked at him in disgust and said to him, “I have many sons and I have never kissed one of them.” The Prophet replied, “what do I have for you, from this religion. I have nothing for the one who has no mercy in his heart for others.”

He was once quoted as saying, “Allah will not show mercy to the one who shows no mercy to others.” This shows that he left an example where one is to show mercy and kindness to others.

How can these extreme Muslims claim to be following the Prophet Muhammad’s example as they commit these ruthless acts? It is not possible for them to be following the same religion he left behind. They are interpreting the religion according to their whims and desires. And causing much corruption and bloodshed along the way. They are not following Islam.

Allah says in the Quran, ” O you who believe stand out for justice even if it be against your own selves…” He also said,” O you who believe do not let your dislike for another people cause you to be unjust in your dealing with them.”

So, even if there is something that one dislikes about a person/people it is not Islamic to treat them unfairly. There is nothing in the religion that suggest overthrowing or tyranny against an established government. Rather, it is from the religion of Islam to be patient with the leaders of these established governments. To rise up against them is extreme and causes more harm that good. It is the innocent that are left to suffer and die. It is not for a handful of people to decide for the whole. Especially when this decision will harm the whole.

This is clear advice and warning to the Muslims to be fair and not to be unjust in their affairs. Even when someone is unjust towards them. They are commanded to be fair to others. What we are seeing from the likes of these people is not fairness nor justice, let alone Islam!

It is time for the Muslims to speak out against such atrocities. Silence is a form of consent. To be silent about the issue is let the wrong doers become the leading voice of what others see our religion as. Silence will only further the confusion of who is who, who can be trusted, and what is the true representation of Islam to be followed. To be silent it is consent to the bloodshed and other atrocities that are taking place. To be silent is to agree in part or in totality.

I have taken a stance from where I am at. I speak out and let it be known that the acts of these people is wrong and it is misguidance to hold on to these beliefs. Some many not like it, but right is always right. I would not want this to happen to my love ones and friends. Why would I want it to happen to someone else’s? It would break my heart to see someone I love and care about kneeling in the sand, helpless as they wait the blow of a sword from a man in a mask. It breaks my heart to see this and other acts that are perpetrated by these people.

The beheading of a Journalists, the reign of terror and killing of the innocent is wrong. It should not be applauded nor encouraged. Attacks on free and innocent people should not, must not, be encouraged, endorsed, or applauded. One should not feel joy in the suffering of others. Rather one should be fearful and sadden by the trials that come from these acts and people.

I ask myself what can I do from where I sit? What can I do to discourage others from this ignorance? The most I can do is what I am doing now. Warning of its dangers. Talking to others and educate in what true Islam is and about. Walking and living in a manner where this is shown by my actions is the best I can do now.

Hopefully one day I will be able to get out of prison and live the example of a good Muslim. Hopefully I will be able to use this experience to reach and teach other Muslims, on the inside and outside. Perhaps show the correct manner in which to live, after having experienced hardships, in a mixed society with all races, religions, cultures, genders, values and view points.

I believe that if others can see Islam lived out correctly in the life of someone else, it can be a good example to look at and follow. And not the example that is portrayed by this extreme and radical groups.

I wish I could do more. I wish I could reach out to the loved ones of those affect by this latest criminal act and offer my personal condolences and support. One can only imagine the pain and grief they feel now. Hopefully it does not turn to hate and bitterness. I understand how it could. It is times like these we need to support one another.

From where I sit I am trying to do the best I can. The question is are you doing the best you can do? Or are you going about your normal routine as if this does not affect you. What will it take? Another tragedy to happen. Will it take the loss of more innocent lives? Will it take another senseless act in our backyard? Do you need the reminder of innocent people jumping hundreds of stories in the attempt to stay alive. Do you need to see more images of constant bombing of The Gaza strip. What do you need to see so that it becomes real to you? What will it take for you? More heads of

Do you fuel hate with more hate? They say that those that hate something usually have a high propensity to love. It is often our extreme love for something that makes us hate the opposite.

So, instead of focusing on the hate to change a situation lets use its opposite. Love. Considering the way things are going what is the worse that can happen? It will be a lot better than what we are experiencing right now. It will be more productive too. It is may lead to productive conversations that lead to positive actions.

I challenge myself, as well as others to be more understanding of one another and to work together to change the wrong that is being done, no matter where it is being done at, no matter who is doing it.

Inside the Criminal Mind

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

It is rather unfortunate that someone is lead into a relationship where the other person is not completely honest with them. It is hard to understand the psyche of someone when you don’t know how they really are. With the incarcerated person there is a lot that goes with that. What I will try to do is give you a glimpse of what that could look like and be like.

The first thing that needs to be addressed, when it comes to someone that has made a habit/career of committing crime, is criminal think. A acts begin with the way we think about them. In the mind of the criminal (whether they know it or not) there are severe control issues. From the person that uses a weapon to evoke fear and intimidate others to the person that uses drugs as a means to manipulate those addicted to it. There is a sense of power an control that one falls into and the feeling is like no other. What better person to be in this life than the person that controls things around them. This extends to physical, emotional, and mental abuse. Abuse that is common and typical in the world of crime and criminals. I don’t use these words lightly. It is what it is and needs to be called what it is. Criminal behavior and criminality.

God’s gift to the criminal man in prison is a woman. It does not matter the woman. Often the more unattractive the better. There is no real sense of commitment to this person. At the end of the day it is, “what can I get from her?” Whatever “that” may be. Money, cards, letters, emails, visits, sexy photos, anything to make the time easier. These women often have self-esteem issues or have been hurt and dogged by men on the outside that they settle for a guy on the inside. A guy that is going to address and cater to their emotional needs. The idea is to pull her all the way in, manipulate and control the situation.

This is the way the criminal mind works. It spares no one and nobody is safe from it. Not even other criminals. There is no sense of shame when it comes to Victimizing others. At the end of the day it is about self. This is what the criminal mind looks like. It is very controlling and conniving. It will use religion, family and anything else to achieve what it wants.

In these types of relationships, if one is not aware of this mindset, one will get sucked in this web of deception and lies.

This mindset is what I had to challenge and change. I had to learn to let go of control. This was/is the hardest thing to do. As a person goes from having “all” the control to having “none” in the matter of minutes. One no longer has control over the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the bed they sleep in, the time to go to bed, the people around them, the use of the phone. They are subjected to cell searches and pat downs, randomly, where someone is looking and prying into their lives. This where the need to group up and create factions come from. It is the need to have power and control over others. It is the need to be acknowledge and recognized. This is dangerous when it comes from a negative, dishonest and deceptive place. This is the mindset and behavior that will drive one to take a life or lose his life about a 49 cent stamp, the belief that they have the right to watch a certain show, or the pride of what is considered “convict” respect. One loses out all the way around the board with this mind-set.

I had to challenge this mind-set. How? I had to learn to share and that the world did not stop not revolve around me. That is what the criminal voice says. It becomes resentful that life goes on. It vows to hurt and make pay all those that crossed it and forgot about them. I hear it all the time. The when I get out this is what I am going to do story is what I call it.

I hate to say it but I try to keep it real. The level of selfishness is at an all time high because the system creates selfishness. From the time a person is arrested, in the federal system, he/she is asked if they want to cooperate. This sets up the idea of “look out for yourself and get yourself out of this situation.” This caters to the criminal mind. To use any means to avoid accountability for their actions. It feeds this mind-set from the door.

It is sad that women get caught up in this cycle as they put their trust in guys that are out for self. Guys that will not be truthful in their actions. Who will not value the foundation of “relationship”, which is based on trust, loyalty, and respect.

I hope that you recover from this bad experience with a new and positive perspective on life and relationships. The inner-person is the only person. The inner-person can change and can when it wants to change.

With that being said I will tell you that it is not easy to change learned behavior. But, if there is a true desire to change one will change. Not for others but most importantly from themselves.

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The latest events surrounding the death of Michael Brown has me wondering about the future of the the world we live in. I think of the events that have taken place and wonder how will this change the society.

I think of the racial split that will occur behind this event. I am grateful that the youth of today are more open to the diversity that makes up this country.

As these events unfold the discussion on the prison yard is interesting. Those mostly concerned are black, and you can hear frustration and anger in their voices.

Being incarcerated I have a different view. What happened was wrong, no doubt. But, the way that the community has decided to voice the wrong is not proper either. I know there are some who are taking advantage of a bad situation. But at whose the expense?

I remember early in my incarceration we decided to protest the living conditions within the prison. At the time I was being housed on the juvenile range. Someone came up with the “good idea” of throwing our mattresses and property on the tier and lighting it on fire. We were locked in the cells and started to throw out our stuff. We were yelling for our demands to be met. We gave them 5 minutes to fix 100 year problem.

We started to toss baby oil on the stuff, as baby oil is flammable and will burn. 5 minutes passed and a match was lit and tossed on the stuff laying on the tier. A big fire ignited and there was this loud whoosh sound. In a matter of seconds the tier was on fire. Smoke start to fill the locked tier and cells. We almost killed ourselves!! Guys were choking and screaming to be let out the cells. Guys were sucking air through the toilets. We would flush the toilet to get air in the bowl. The bars got hot to the touch. We almost killed ourselves! What did we do? Excuse my French but we did not get shit and we fucked up the prison some more! The prison that we had to live in because they were not going to let us free.

We took a situation that was criminal (the mistreatment of inmates is called cruel and unusual punishment) and harmed ourselves. We did not get what we wanted, a 5 minute fix to a 100 year problem. We ultimately made it bad for ourselves. It is more criminal to create a oppressive situation for oneself. This is what the people of Ferguson is doing to themselves.

Make no mistake about it.. Wrong is wrong. But you don’t fix wrong with more wrong. Something needs to be done. Answers need to be given. But this is a 400 plus year problem that people want fixed today. Sorry but I doubt that it will happen in that fashion.

We need to step back and readdress the problem the right way. Intentions need to be made clear. For what purpose are we here for? What is the goal and object of any demonstration and protest? I am glad that people are stepping up. But not the manner in which some of are doing so.

For those of us who can remember 9/11 we see how this event has changed the world, and not necessarily for the better. We are no more safer today. From what I hear it is more of a hassle to maintain privacy, to avoid being profiled, and to travel. I don’t know an outside world post 9/11 so I don’t know. But I will say this. What happened in Ferguson Missouri will be monumental in changing future events just as 9/11 change world events. The issue of race and poverty can no longer be avoided. When the time comes to address these issues, whether by dialogue or actually putting forth actions, what course of action will be taken.

We can no longer, as a society, avoid what is to come, in terms of social change and justice. To do so would truly be criminal.

Talib would like to hear other opinions about this situation. He is currently incarcerated but maintains the A Voice From the Inside as a means to reach out the public, and as a tool of awareness to what goes on in prison. He is open to taking all questions and comments. If you think others would be interested in hearing more pass the word, repost and sign up at his site.

This morning I woke up to some tragic news. An unarmed 18 year old teen was shot and killed by a police officer in Missouri. This news has created some discussion among some of the men here in the prison. Some of the conversations surround the response of the community members. Some of the members in that community rioted, looted and even shot at the Chief of police.

I am old enough to remember the Rodney King case and how the South Central LA community responded to the acquittal of those officers. They resulted to looting and violence. As the old adage goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right”, I agree with that. Yet, there is something deeper happening here. Something I have not yet heard mentioned by those that have appeared on TV to give their advice/opinions of what went, or is going, wrong.

As a people we are what we are taught. Black people living in the inner-cites don’t feel part of a social structure where they view justice and equality the same as those that have their place in main-stream society. In the black community exists a very different type of law and order. A very different type of infrastructure, where the values and norms are not shared by those outside of their communities.

There is a teaching in these communities that in order to be heard “we” must rise up against “any” and “all” with the force/threat and use of violence.

How can one expect anything other than rioting and looting in a community that is most likely stricken by poverty and under/low class living? Where most of the community feels marginalized and ousted by members of other communities. Was anything else expected from them?

The most important question to ask is did it work? Did it get the attention of the authorities? Unfortunately, it was the rioting and looting that got the national attention this event deserved on its own. This is the training that I speak about. That in order to be heard, to get justice “we” have to act up.

Go a step further. This has made news alongside the broken peace treaty between Israel and Palestine. As well as the slaughter of Kurds in Iraq by ISIS. That has been the rotation of news all day. My heart breaks when I see the slaughter of innocent people, wherever they may be. But what is the message of showing this type of news, the killing of a young black teen, in between the killing of innocent Kurds, Palestinians and Israelis. Does it say that “blacks” in this country when they feel they have been wronged respond the same way as “Islamic Militants” or “Palestinian rebels”. And I use those terms loosely. How will public opinion be shaped by the way this event is covered?

Will it send the message there is not hope for “those” people? That is what comes to mind when I think about the Crisis in the Middle East. It is almost a hopeless situation. A situation where one wants to see peace by any means necessary. Do I have those same thoughts about the shooting of an innocent black teen? I most certainly do. Not just a young black teen but any young or old person that is attacked and killed by those that are entrusted to serve and protect.

What upsets me is the coverage of the events. One guy was talking to a reporter and tried to interject a piece about the “black” mindset in America. She cut him off with, “lets talk about the looting.” They repeatedly showed the interview of the Chief of Police where he stated, “last night was the worst night of my life.” Not to discredit him. As I sincerely believe he was being genuine and honest. He was not prompted and had emotion in his voice as he said it. Yet, what about the other victims of last nights events? Do they not share the same sentiment, that it was the worst night of their lives as well?

Anytime you get the “police” to admit to fear. Those who are trained for these situations, to not respond with fear, to say they were “fearful”. What does this say about those that evoke this fear? The must be dangerous and helpless.

It is sad and unacceptable that the community responded this way. This is not the way to respond to any event. The use of violence never solves anything. This is why the continual fighting around the world will never cease. As it goes to be said. There has never been a group of people to take down another group of people, with force, except they became worse than the group they took down. So, it is not acceptable to respond this way. Yet, I understand it. It all goes back to what we are taught. I goes back to what gets the attention needed for “justice” from the other side. That is the way the “black community” is often designed. It is “us “against “you all”. So, to get justice from “you all” this is what we must do. Sad to say it works. Until those that cover these events wizen up to this it will always be a response to events such as these.

Trust me I know. As a black man in this country I have heard this train of thought all of my life when it comes to finding the “solution” to “our” inequality issues. Even in prison. Guys always talk about stopping work or something of that nature. Although, guys have not been successful with this in years, they still mention acts such as work stoppage and events that took place in Missouri as the route to take. The route to justice and equality. Knowing that it has not worked in years and hence forth will never work again. Why, you may ask yourself suggest it as a solution. Because that is the way some of us “think”.
Until this mindset is challenged by those who have the position, influence and authority to challenge it many will continue to not only think but respond this way. As they search for “justice” and “equality”.

Hopefully, something good comes from this tragic situation. If there was one thing I could say to my “people”, and it is hard to say considering the history of blacks in this country, is that we are perceived by the perception we give. True the young teen is not at fault here. But what justice do you get for him by making it about you. When you respond out ignorantly you make it about you. What justice do you get for “him” by looting, robbing and killing your own communities. How are others going to buy into our cry for justice and solutions when we say we want it for us, yet we maim ourselves along the way. That sends a mixed message. One that is not to be trusted. What happens in this event? Nothing.