A Journey from the inner-city to the Department of Corrections

"There's a big difference between doing right and doing wrong. wrong. Doing right is like climbing a mountain, just you and the elements. Every move is treacherous, any mistake could be your first, and your last. Nobody there to protect you from the freezing cold. No one to lend a hand when you feel yourself slipping. Every gust seems like a calculated attempt to murder you, every setback etches in your brain over and over again "what's the point?" Far too late, you realize that maybe you could have gone around it, or through it, and saved yourself a lot of trouble.

. . . . Trouble man don't get in my way....

The story of the inner-city youth!!!

On June 4th Tuesday back in (1990) I was taken off the streets of Philadelphia at the age of (19) and charged with murder in the first degree. I went in front of Judge David Savitt courtroom 653 City Hall, and the juror found me guilty and sentenced me to "LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE." The words I find you guilty is still with me today, my whole being turned into hate, rage, and mistrust for people. My environment also played a part in my thinking. I arrived at the state correctional institution at Graterford in (1991), I was still wild and caught up into the "Dead World." I found myself always inside the (R. H. U.) restricted housing unit because I was battling forces within my mind. I was transferred to Rockview state prison in (1993), my problems was hitting higher heights. I was still running around with negative forces inside these prison walls. Physically I was here but mentally I was dead. An internal battle was still raging on inside of me, once again I found myself inside the (R. H. U.) After a few months of sitting behind the caged door the (P. R.C. ) people came to my cell and told me I wasn't returning to general population. I prepared to take my show to another state prison plantation, in my messed up young mind I was engaged in some kind of "Holy War." I landed at the state correctional institution Huntingdon in (1994) I was placed on B-Block around the corner from the old Death Row. After a few months inside the (R. H. U.) I was released out to the general population . But that trip didn't last long because the negative forces still controlled my mental .

I was returned to the (R. H. U.) and they gave me a year inside the hole. It was there I herd these brothers talking, one was name "Lateef, " we were out inside the dog cages and he asked me a question. "He said young brother why are you so angry?" I said I didn't know ! He then asked me who are you angry at? I said the world! He then said why? "I said because the world has rejected me." He then asked me can I read, I said yes a little bit. He then asked me did I wanted to read something, I told him I don't have time for that garbage right now .

He then told me to kill myself, that was cold ! I was upset that I wanted to attack him. So we didn't speak for about two weeks. Then one morning he called over to me and said, "young brother I am trying to save your young life, won't you just listen to me for a minute . "

Lateef want on to teach me about me, and this prison system. He started me on my path to awareness and actually saved me from burning myself out completely. One day we were both out in general population I want around to his cell to get him for or morning work-out, I noticed he had a yellow tag on his door. The guard told me he had died last night from a fatal heart-attack. That sad news took me by storm, but it's a cold reality we prisoners face every day as we get older behind these prison walls.

Lateef always told me that it must become my ability to turn the barest conditions of survival into a site of deep personal transformation. The first thing a prisoner feels when he receives an inconceivably long sentence is shock. The shock usually wears off after about two years, when all your appeals have been denied, that's if your not still fighting . A prisoner then enters a period of self-hatred because of what he's done to himself and his family. If he survives that emotion, and most don't, he begins to swim the rapids of rage, frustration and alienation. When he passes through the rapids, he finds himself in the calm waters of impotence, futility and resignation. It's not a life one can look forward to living . The future is totally devoid of hope.

The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined.

So my prison cell became my classroom my struggle chamber .

Everyone is on the verge of something , whether it is critical decision or a life changing choice.

In my closing: "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

(26) years later as I now sit inside another prison cell here at the state correctional institution Camp Hill, my struggles continues. Keep up the good works out there!!!

MR. NATE BUTLER # BQ-0913