Author Archive

I must say that I am sorry for my absence. I have not blogged in a while, and for good reason. I have been working on a project that has taken up most of my time. So, I want to present this project to my followers with the hopes that they in some way contribute.

It is no secret that we are living in unprecedented times. There is no need to go into details. It is safe to say that a lot of work needs to be done to address these issues. But, we are hopeful and believe they can be worked out and addressed. The biggest issue I see us facing with, on a daily basis, is lack of leadership. We are living in a time where we need good leadership. Leadership that is transparent, focused and clear.

I have developed the Urban Committee Leadership Coaching Academy. The goal is to is bring leaders and coaches from around the world who are invested in community development and leadership. The goal is to provide leadership skills and training to those who wish to become more effective in the way they interact with the world.

Coaching in itself presents many challenges. Coaching within the urban and penal community presents another set of challenges. One of the most im-pactful tool a person has is the tool of influence. UCLCA want to help others get to the place where they use their influence for good, and as a means to obtain success.

I know that change is a slow process and that leaders develop over time, daily, not in a day. It takes a collaboration of real leaders to change the trajectory of a community: socially, economically, and culturally. I want to train, coach and educate others on the type of leadership needed to change. The goal is to train leaders who want to be successful. Who can train others to lead in their absence; to leave a legacy of good leaders.

The platform is built on seven principles of success. These principles are extracted from what I know, from personal experience, to work.
1. Understanding: We know of the problems that exist.
2. Motive: Our motives are transparent.
3. Confidence: We believe in the mission.
4. Determination: We are determined to succeed.
5. Experience: Our experiences gives us a broader understanding and the credibility needed to succeed.
6. Innovate: We innovate and collaborate.
7. Progress: Proper preparation produces progress: right action at the right time leads to success.

I am sending out a call to my followers to share this mission with others, to join in with this mission and contribute to the mission, and to offer any advice or feedback in order to make this mission successful: pass the word, post on facebook, LInkedIn, share with other liked minded individuals so that UCLCA is a success!


Halfway House Questions…

Posted: March 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

I have gotten a lot of questions about the halfway house. People have concerns and really don’t know what to expect while in the halfway house. Each halfway house is different and have different rules and regulations. I know a lot of guys that have gone to the halfway house and have been met with rules and regulations that have made it impossible to stay there. It seems that at every turn there is a rule that prohibits you from moving, being with family, and in some cases working. How do you get around that? 

Here a few things to remember when dealing with the halfway house. 

1. The official name for halfway houses: Community Correction Facility. What does that mean? That means although you can see and smell the outside world you are still under BOP custody. The BOP has contracted you out to a private company that operates under BOP rules and regulations. Any infraction you get will be the same as it would be if you were actually behind the fence or wall. As a resident you have to keep this in mind. 
2. The recidivism rate is 70% that means 7 out of 10 people return back to prison within 3 years of release. So, although you may have changed your life around for the best that does not mean that the other guys there with you have. You will encounter the same criminal lifestyle, habits and behaviors as you did in the joint. You have to take care of your sobriety. You have to have the will power to disassociate yourself from these people and their behaviors. People are not going to care about your needs. You have to care about them. That goes for staff and others alike. At the end of the day it is about money. You are there to profit off of. 
3. I have a lot of guys that get frustrated with the process of finding a job while in the halfway house. I know it is hard to settle for a temp job after spending many years in prison planning on how to get rich. If you did a bid waiting and planning use the time in the halfway house fine tuning your plan. Why? Because if you go out and get that high paying job, the one you always wanted, or you try to get your own business off the ground don’t be surprised when the halfway house mess it up for you. I hear stories all the time of guys that get out and get good jobs only to have to leave them after the halfway house calls the employer. It is as if they sabotage your efforts to get out and work. So how do you solve that? Get the temp job sweeping floors and dumping trash. They are going to take 25 percent of your check anyway. So why make a lot of money to give to them. 
When dealing preparing for release you have to prepare for the time spent in the halfway house. It is part of the bid and along with the bid there will be set backs. Your goal should be to understand them and get around them. The worse is you are there for 6 months to a year. The best thing about it is that while you are stuck in the halfway house your old cell-mate is stuck in a prison cell…dying and wishing to get out. Nothing last for ever. Just as you were able to deal with being confined you will find a way to get around the halfway house. 

The Numbers

Posted: March 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

As the say numbers don’t lie. But I want to add they do change. Here are some numbers for you as it relates to mass incarceration and crime and how it relates to the destruction of the black family.
There is a term, “Carceral State”: A sprawling netherworld of prisons and jails. So I guess the USA has added another state to the country.
The US makes up 5% of the worlds population but make up 25% of the world’s incarcerated population.
From the mid 1970’s to 2017 the incarceration population rate jumped from 300,000 to 2.2 million.
In the year 2000, 1 in 10 black males between the ages of 20 and 40 were incarcerated. 10 times the rate of their white peers.
In the year 2010 it was reported that a third of all black male high school drop outs between the age of 20 and 39 were imprisoned, compared to only 13 percent of their white peers.
The cost of 1 federal inmate, on average, costs $30,000 a year.
The population in Cumberland is approximately 1050. That cost of incarceration…$3,150,000,00.
There are over 50 federal prisons.
Taxpayers pay roughly 5.8 billion dollars a year.
The Department of Justice annual budget is approximately 80 billion dollars a year.
Among all black males born since the late 1970’s, one in four went to prison by their mid 30’s. among those who dropped out of high school, seven in ten did.
Sociologist now say that it has become normal and anticipated that black me will go to prison as they transition into adulthood. It has become a rite of passage.
In 1984 70% of all parolees successfully completed their terms of parole without re-arrest.
In 1996 only 44% did.
As of 2013 only 33% complete parole without re-arrest.

These are just a few of the numbers that black men, old and young, represent. As I said… numbers don’t lie, but they can change. We got to change these numbers.

Talib Shares His Story

Posted: January 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

Here is a recent interview, unedited, that was done through the DC Mayor’s office of Public Safety, of Talib sharing parts of his story to at risk youth. The Mayor’s office is using the edited version to show to teens throughout DC: schools, probations courts, and youth facilities. This is just one of Talib’s latest projects. I hope you enjoy this rare and candid moment. I hope that you also share this link with others. Talib can be contacted directly at for comments etc.

Watch video here


Dear Friends,
For this #GivingTuesday, please consider making a donation to Talib’s Legal Defense Fundraiser. Your gift will take us one step closer to securing much needed legal defense to take on the U.S. Parole Commission in our fight for Talib’s freedom.
Visit our Generosity page here to make your contribution.
Our giving levels include:
– $25 Friend
Special thank you on Talib’s blog, A Voice from the Inside.
-$60 Sakeenah’s Art Fan Club #2
Donate at this level to receive a colored geometric design drawn by Sakeenah!
-$150 Sakeenah’s Art Fan Club #3
Donate at this level to receive a painted geometric design made by Sakeenah!
-$250 Ally
A dozen cookies handmade by Sakeenah and mailed to your home.
-$500 Sustainer
Signed linoleum block print made by Sakeenah.
-$1,000 Leader
Homecooked Moroccan meal for up to 6 people, delivered warm and ready to your home! Limited to within a 10 mile radius of zipcode 20003.
Thank you for your continued support!

Don’t Be the Flea

Posted: October 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


I want to share something I once read.  About a flea circus. I was taken aback because I had never heard of anything like this. Who would waste time, and how do you for that matter, train fleas.  Well, come to find out this phenomenon actually exists. What happens is the trainer puts the fleas in a box with a lid covering it. The fleas, by their very nature, will jump. They jump and jump and jump. The trick to the training is that when they jump they bump up against the lid of the box. After a while they limit their jumping to the height of the lid on the box. The trainer then comes and lifts the lid off the box. The fleas continue to jump but they will not jump the heights they once could. They have been trained. Although, to the naked eye people think the fleas are acting naturally, while in fact they aren’t. What is the morale of this. Don’t be the flea. Don’t allow yourself to be limited by the things going on around you, especially when you know you can jump high. Many people are like fleas. They have been trained to only want so much out of life. They forget to explore. They forget to stop and take in the moment. They live and die without never having thought of jumping out of the box, in order to reach their full potential. Don’t be the flea.

Often times the impression of the incarcerated is negative. Truthfully speaking there are those who wish to perpetuate ignorance and anti-social behavior. Yet, there are men who desire nothing more than to be able to offer proactive, pro-social and effective suggestions to the problems that plague our communities. Communities that we, admittedly, influenced negatively.

Growing up in DC during the 1980s, up until my incarceration, was not easy. DC was a city under siege, known as the murder capital of the US, where the murder rate soared well into 300 a year. Many people, mostly young, lost their lives during this time. Many lives were destroyed, families torn apart and homes broken. I am sure long time DC residents remember those trying times. 

The positive changes we have seen over the years shows the efforts of the people here tonight have not been in vain. The job of securing public safety is never easy and often times goes un-noticed. But at the end of the day we have to appreciate the work of those who effortlessly strive to make DC a safer place. Thank you for that. 

I have had the chance to read the recent Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016. I must say I was very impressed by what I read. The strategies mentioned will produce positive results. As a youthful offender who was just put into the adult system with no guidance, as someone who had to figure it out along the way and got it right. I am sure that current offenders with the help that is being extended to them stand a better chance of being successful. 

It is well documented that crime is a result of social disparity, economic inequality, marginalization, disenfranchisement, and most importantly lack of education. 

I strongly believe that there are two systems within our society that operate hand and hand: the educational and criminal justice system, for whatever flaws they may have. 

Failure and success, within society, depends on ones approach to education. Those who take advantage of the educational opportunities provided to them almost NEVER end up in the criminal justice system. 

Those who fail within the education system almost always END up in the criminal justice system. It was mentioned in the bill that 81% of DYRS committed youth are male and 100% are African American. That is startling, to say the least. 

Education extends beyond text books. It begins with the values, morals and lessons we are taught by those around us: parents, guardians, teachers, community leaders and community members. What they teach us is what we take out into the world. 

What are the youth being taught? 

Some of them are taught in order to survive in this harsh world they have to be harsh. They are taught they cannot trust those who do not look like them, act like them or are of a different skin color. 

They rebel against authority and are not held accountable for their actions. They are taught in order to survive they have to be uncaring, unsympathetic, and un-empathetic towards others.  

They are taught that violence is used as a means for survival. They are taught that when all else fails they have to fight dirty, using weapons, or anything else to gain the edge. These are some of the lessons they learn from their care takers. These are the lessons they take into the world. 

Violence is everywhere. We see it on TV, video games, hear it in music, read it in books. It is almost impossible to escape violence. They have become so desensitized to violence that they don’t understand the full repercussions of harming others. 

What is violence? 

Violence is fear perpetuated and fueled by anger, desperation, and ignorance. Couple that with drug, alcohol and mental health abuse you have a bomb ready for destruction. The more fearful a person is the more desperate they becomes. This fear and desperation will provoke violent behavior. 

Reducing crime and violence calls for targeting its roots causes: fear being one of them. 

We, also, have to consider the way we view our communities. The word in itself is made up of two words, Common-Unity. In order to restore the community we must unite and restore those elements that have been removed from it. 

Why do we call our community the hood? If you take the word “hood” and put it in the middle of a sheet of paper and write the words father, mother, sister, brother, neighbor, and servant you will see they are tied to the word “hood.” 

When we take these human qualities out of the community we destroy the neighborhood. Therefore, we are left with the “hood”. When there is no fatherhood, motherhood, sisterhood, brotherhood, or servant hood left in the neighborhood we are left with victimhood. 

We have to unite and restore our communities by putting those human elements back in order for the community to be productive. 

We need to remain hopeful that our communities can be restored. Those of us who believe there is hope have to continue acting on this hope. Hope is that thing that propels us each day. Hope is the light that shines in darkness. Hope is the armor that we use in the battlefield as we defend those who are preyed upon and unable to defend themselves: the desolate, hopeless, elderly and children. 

An important question that needs to be asked…”What is it that these young men and women need”? Do we even know what they need to change their behavior? Not what we think they need, but what they know they need. We will never know if they are not included in the conversation. 

One would be surprised how much is learned by simply asking, “What do you need to become a better person”? We need to find out the needs of the youth. Most of the time we try to assume what they need. While in fact we are just as clueless as they are. Not knowing the answers to these questions could cost someone their life. 

I often ask myself how my life would be if someone, during my time of rebellion, would have sat me down and simply asked, “Talib what do you need… What do you need to be successful? What do you need to feel loved? What do you need to feel safe? What do you need to be the best you can be?” In all of my years of delinquent behavior and experience with DHS, Oak hill, Cedar Knoll, Residential placement have I ever been asked any of those questions. Rather it has been we have assessed you and this is what you need. Most of the time they got it wrong. 

In my opinion, one way to hear from them is to have a summit that emphasizes the idea of non-violence. Where they are included in the discussion. The theme is simple. “What do our DC youth need to become successful in life?” I am not talking about fun and games or a concert. I am talking about a summit of serious conversation and discussion, a place where people can speak their fears, broker peace and become informed. 

It would beneficial to organize city leaders, elected and appointed, parole, probation, teachers, parents, mentors, pastors, Imams, directors of the various organizations that exist in DC, white, black, Hispanic, Muslims, Christians, the entire DC community needs to be involved. One would have to utilize available resources to sponsor a summit such as this. In order for any of these measures the community has to be involved and supportive of the goals of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. 

A summit of DC residents will be a good place where the victims of crimes get to speak. In most cases victims are like blank sheets of paper. These youth need to hear how crime and violence effect the lives of others. They need to hear how lives are destroyed by their actions. They, themselves, need to tell others what role crime, neglect, and violence has played in their lives. Often times the victim becomes the victimizer. 

I have facilitated and participated in victim impact courses for many years. Participation in these courses led me to acquire certification in Victim Advocacy. The most emotional moment I have had in prison was during a victim impact seminar. To hear the stories of these victims soften a lot of the men to tears. It is often the catalyst needed that moves them from seeing themselves as the victim. It helps them reframe and understand who the true victims of crime are. For this reason we would begin all of our courses with a victim impact seminar. 

A summit will allow other successful citizens to show themselves to the public and share their stories. Where they can share their stories of triumph. They can speak of breaking barriers and achieving goals despite the obstacles surrounding them. These stories can inspire. 

A summit will allow law enforcement to express their willingness to work with the community, not against it. One of the downsides of wearing a uniform is we forget that beneath the uniform there is a human being. Most of the time we judge each other by the clothes and uniforms we wear; we don’t give people the benefit of doubt they deserve as human beings, based on the clothes, outfits and uniforms they wear. 

When people talk of law enforcement most of the time they are talking about the uniform, and what it represents to them. They sometime fail to realize these people are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. They are human and the community need to see them as human beings. 

Which is why it is moving to see an officer challenging a young girl to a dance-off in the middle of the street, as a means to ease the tension of anger. This is the type of community and law enforcement interaction that reminds us that law enforcement are human too. 

We all could benefit from respecting one another as human beings and not products of our environments. We cannot continue to ostracize people from community affairs while expecting the best from them. The only way we, as a community, will be successful in reducing crime and violence will be determined by our willingness to stand together. 

I am at one of the closest prisons to DC, FCI Cumberland. The DC population here is high, and young. These young men are in need of a lot of help. Some of the stories I hear are hard to believe, as it concerns some of the choices they have made in life. 

I hear them talk on the prison yard and in the prison kitchen. I see them when they first arrive at the prison. I teach them in GED classes. I see the side effects of drug use. I listen to their stories. Stories that end with them back in the communities they come from. Some of them, when they are released, I follow up with. I call them and try to continue to encourage them. Most of the time they are back on the block or on their way back to prison. They tell me things like, “it’s just a matter of time before I’m back in the joint.” 

It was once said that the measure of society can be judged by entering into its prisons. If that is true society does not look to promising. 

I want to close with a true story. The story of my last cell-mate, a young man from DC. As an infant he was left in a crack house by his mother. He was left there to die. After a few days of being left in this house someone realized he was there and took him to the hospital. In short his grandmother was given custody of him. During his formative years he acted out and became increasingly violent. 

He was later diagnosed with severe mental health issues and a learning disability. He was prescribed medicine but could not afford it so he turned to heroin. Now on top of being bi-polar he was abusing drugs. His violent behavior increased, he began carjacking and robbing people. By the time he got to prison he was on the brink of self-destruction. 

We lived together for about 2 years. By the time he left he had a different outlook on life and had goals, was clean and healthy. One month after being home his grandmother, the primary care taker, passed away. He sent me a message saying, “she is gone, what am I going to do now.” In this desperate state it was only a matter of time before he returned to his old behavior. 

Maslow hierarchy of needs suggest that when one’s basic needs are not met they cannot survive. They will resort to whatever means to meet their needs. 

In order to find out what best suit their needs..simply bring them in on the conversation, and listen. Once you know what they need you can act effectively. 

From personal experience I know that change is possible if given the right opportunities. I am hopeful. 

I close with this “If you treat a person as they are, they will stay the same. 
If you treat a person as they ought to be or could be, they will become what they ought to be and could be.