About Talib M. Shakir

Talib M. Shakir is a current inmate at a federal penitentiary in the U.S.  He has been serving time for the past 20 years, since he was incarcerated at age 17.  His time has been met with many opportunities to grow in terms of education, experience, and knowledge.  A Voice from the Inside is his latest project to bridge the gap of communication between the outside world and those currently serving time in America’s prisons.

The Director and Founder of the Reconstruct Program, Talib began his work of education on crime prevention and productive lifestyles while incarcerated.  Talib went to prison at the age of 17 for a period of 20 years.  During that time he took every opportunity to re-evaluate his life and turn it around for the better.  He came to understand what it takes for someone to break the cycle of violence, crime, and recidivism.

While incarcerated, he has organized and facilitated numerous programs.  These programs were given high recommendations as they contributed to the change and mindset of many participants.  Currently he is working with Dr. Pat Williams to incorporate Life Coaching principles and techniques into the Reconstruct Program.  Talib also helps facilitate a Victim Impact class with Dr. Tony Glasgow at FCI McKean, tutors GED in Spanish to other inmates, and is in training to become a certified Life Coach.

‘A Voice from the Inside’ is written by Talib M. Shakir, a voice currently incarcerated within America’s prison system. This blog also allows the public to ask questions directly to prisoners serving time with Talib.  We hope the exchange can broaden perspectives, increase awareness, and educate the public about life on the inside of some of America’s prisons. This is a real live view from the inside.

  1. […] on Coaching the Global Village here, and his website, A Voice from the Inside, can be accessed here.  Talib and Adam will be presenting their work on Friday, May 3 at 11am in Buttrick 206.  The […]

  2. Anne says:

    No story begins in the middle. It always begins at the beginning. A person’s life does not begin when a crime is committed, but far sooner and this is the time frame that must be targeted for prevention. FBI profilers seem to understand this better than the medical community, which looks to physical causes for both crime and “mental illness”. Both of these conditions are the result of domestic PTSD, to which boys are more susceptible. It comes from home, neighborhood, and cultural environment. We need far more social services for children to support them and recognize that their home and neighborhood environments mould them. More tax money being sent to low income schools equalizes the educational and opportunity process. In wealthy and middle class communities, the children are punished far less, and they have access to safer and physically better equipped schools. In addition their parents are usually better educated, with higher salaries and direct access to a wider range of occupational and corporate opportunities that are not available in lower income communities. In short, we need to take better care of ALL our children, not overseas but right here at home.

    • This is very insightful and I like the analogy of the story, it not starting from the middle. I think that often times that is what others tend to focus on, the middle. You see that a lot here within the institutions as well. I think that is one of the things that I have always known and reflected on often. That although I have done my share of wrong but I am not my wrong. I have had few experiences with living outside the urban communities and what you describe is what I have witnessed. I have a good friend in fact that comes from an affluent family yet he is addicted to heroin. The things that he has done to support his habit would never be accepted in lower income communities, as far as the criminal justice system. Not that I would want him to have to experience this because in spite of all of those things he is like a younger brother to me. But, the reality is that things are just “different” for him and I understand why.

      I definitely think that the process has to start earlier. I remember in the 6th grade being taken to Lorton Prison on a field trip to the “scared straight program”. I remember thinking years later why did they take us to the prison instead of the neighboring Universities. Howard University was closer to the school than the prison. As was Georgetown, George Mason and Catholic University. I guess the idea was that those places were off limits to us. It would have been far more productive to take us there on a field trip and tell is, ” this is the place that is going to take you places. If you stay in school now and make it here you will be part of the greater society an people will respect you an not feel threatened by you. To the point that they will feel the need to enact laws that will keep you out the main stream society.

      So, yes there is a need to take care of our kids here, all of them and to do what is necessary to ensure that the playing field is equal and that opportunities are accessible to all.

  3. waiolama says:

    So compelled by Talib’s story, I’m going to learn what I never cared or knew much about life behind bars and chains. The truth and awareness that he shares from the inside is informative, tragic, hopeful and inspiring of human spirit. It’s a disappointment and injustice that he didn’t get paroled after his 20 years served. God is in control, so God is still using Talib in a very powerful way. I only learned about Talib yesterday, as I was trying to understand the psyche of a man I know who served his 20 years (about 20 months ago). I learned that Talib’s incarceration didn’t make him egotistic, exploitive, and cunning. With that being said, I got used and abused (emotionally and intimately) not because he was an ex-con, but because he maintained his inner core which he confesses never changes. However, I’m sure to change and release myself from my inner chambers–my personal imprisonment. To be like Talib and live outside our “self” is freedom!

    • 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.

      • waiolama says:

        Thank you for taking the time, effort, and consideration in addressing my experience with an ex-con of 20 years. I’m no longer upset with him because like you shared, a criminal mind-set is hard to change, yet if one is determined to make the necessary changes, one will make the efforts. I also don’t blame him, for he is only doing what became his nature in order to survive. I think it’s sad and tragic when depravity of soul /humanness turns into animal like instincts always on high guard and alert. I’m praying that he will be able to trust, to have a new heart and mindset, to experience empathy, compassion and peace that surpasses understanding. He deserves the right to obtain happiness, love, a family and start anew on the outside without traces of the inside tormenting him. Thank you again for your valuable insights and personal experience. May you also achieve your highest greatest hopes, dreams, goals and lead a prosperous and fulfilling life.

  4. Michael merin says:

    I personally know Talib and it is a very rare experience when you are inside the belly of the beast and have such a positive voice and constant motivator of good behavior around. He was that friend and big brother to me. He really helped shape my views in the system and what we need to do to help the youth and help stop this modern day genocide of the poor and uneducated. Thank you Talib. Your brother Amir

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