The Free Virginia Movement Presents:
Live From Behind Enemy Lines:
An Interview with Khali Pyatt, Part 3
By Uhuru B. Rowe
March 26, 2018
This is the last part of a three-part interview I conducted with Khali, my cellmate. After telling us more about some of his experiences in prison, he’s about to give some powerful words of wisdom to the youth who may be on the road to prison.
Uhuru: Khali, in the second part of this interview you were talking about how prison authorities mistreat our loved-ones. I can definitely attest to the fact that these people do, in fact, mistreat our loved-ones when they come here for visitation. Just this past Sunday when my disabled mother came to visit me, she was forced to sit in the waiting room for almost three hours before they allowed her in to see me. What they have to go through in order to visit us — the long waiting periods, the aggressive searches, having to pass through an X-ray machine — it’s all very dehumanizing. And it begs the question: If a strong and positive relationship with our loved-ones is essential to our rehabilitation in prison and our successful reentry back into society after prison, why are prison authorities working so hard to discourage these relationships?
Continue reading “Live From Behind Enemy Lines: An Interview with Khali Pyatt, Part 3”
By Uhuru B. Rowe
December 5, 2015
Today was quite extraordinary. My eldest niece came to visit me today, along with her boyfriend and three wonderful children. Its been nearly four years since she last visited me and I was so excited when she told me that she was coming to visit me on this day I could barely contain myself. Out of my entire family Nonie has been the second-most constant in my life during my incarceration- second only to my mother. Nonie and I have a pretty unique relationship in a family divided by deeds done and words said…and words left unsaid. When Nonie was younger, my mother used to baby-sit her so often that it seems as if she was staying with us on a permanent basis. But I was a momma’s boy who demanded all of my mother’s attention; and so I felt that Nonie was encroaching on my territory, so to speak. I began to feel neglected by my mother because I selfishly felt that all of the love and attention she was showering Nonie with belonged to me. And so I began to resent Nonie and I began to verbally and physically abuse her. I didn’t understand it at the time but Nonie’s presence in both me and my mother’s lives during a difficult period for the family was a blessing in disguise. My parent’s marriage was on the verge of collapse and I was battling mental and emotional problems. I vaguely remember one day when I was sitting in my room crying after suffering a traumatic experience, Nonie came to me and put her hand on my shoulder and asked me what was wrong. When I turned to look at her in the eyes, I saw nothing but pure and genuine concern for my well-being. I remember feeling quite fine after that. And here I am after nearly 21 years of incarceration, she is still showing me that same love and concern. She is quite an extraordinary person, so full of love, compassion and loyalty. I am blessed to be her uncle. Her consistent presence in my life serves as a powerful reminder that I must fight with every ounce of my being to regain my freedom.
Black people make up 60% of Virginia’s prison population- 90% of which are black men. Consequently, mass incarceration is destroying black communities and is crippling the foundations of black families. It is an injustice to keep rehabilitated prisoners behind bars for decades who could otherwise serve as a powerful and positive role model and example for our sons and daughters. America’s criminal injustice system punishes not only prisoners, but also our families and communities. I bear witness to this fact when I see the look in Nonie’s eyes when it’s time for us to part was from our visit.
By Uhuru B. Rowe
September 25, 2017
Anyone who has ever served time in a jail, prison, or a detention facility, or has been an inpatient at a hospital, knows the importance of receiving visits from loved-ones. Visits from the people we care about functions as a temporary reprieve from the drudgery of institutional life. They remind us that we are loved, valued, and cared for in a harsh and punitive environment which seeks to strip away every ounce of our humanity and self-esteem. Most importantly, they remind us that, despite being isolated away behind concrete walls, we are still part of a family unit; part of our community. So, when I was called for a visit on Sunday, September 24, 2017, here at Sussex 2 State Prison, I was overjoyed! But this feeling of being overjoyed was short-lived, and was quickly replaced with anger and frustration. Here’s why:
Continue reading “The Visit That Never Was: The Continued Efforts To Destroy The Bonds Between Prisoners and Their Loved-Ones”
By Uhuru B. Rowe
April 14th, 2016
On the 10th of April, 2016, at approximately 11:50pm, I was awaken to the sounds of a correctional officer banging on my door who commanded in a loud voice for my cell parter and I to stand up and approach the cell door. In my efforts to regain my senses after being startled from a deep sleep and amidst the commotion, I nearly fell off my top bunk in order to comply with the guard’s demand.
Upon approaching the cell door, my cell partner and I were forced to strip naked and forced to bend over, squat and cough as the guard and his cohorts examined our bodies.
Continue reading “From General Population to Solitary Confinement”