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  • Government Name: Mark Dixon
  • Register Number: R-01558
  • Age:32
  • Time Served:14 years
  • Home Town:Chicago, Illinois
  • Sentence:35 years
  • Current Charge:1st Degree Murder, 2 Counts of Attempted Murder
  • Alias:Chyna Bo
  • Release Date:2034
  • Prison Affiliation:Gangster Disciple
  • Circle of Influence:LaBron Neal Bey, Fall Back
  • Institution:Pickneyville Correctional Center
  • With every child murdered in the streets, the bullseye on your head grows bigger.

Prisoner’s Open Letter to Melissa Harris-Perry

prison-second-chance

Dear Mrs. Harris-Perry,

Allow me to begin by saying that I have been a supporter of your careers since the early 2000s. Your insistence on being the voice for the voiceless is critical and very much appreciated. Thank you.

My name is Mark Dixon and I have been incarcerated since I was eighteen-years-old. I am now thirty-four and face nineteen more years of incarceration. I have worked very hard to show proof that I am worthy of a second chance, but it seems the courts are blind to my efforts. Perhaps they are too hypnotized by the tough on crime politics that have led to overcrowded prisons. The courts’ unwillingness to change is perhaps what convinces them that prisoners like me are also unprepared to change.

Right now America is feeling the burden of overcrowded prisons. Politicians from both the left and right agree that something must be done. The cracks in the justice system have swallowed 2.3 million citizens and the numbers continue to grow. While people recognize prison spending as a major issue, few target the other damages that result from America’s obsession with incarceration. The effects of having so many mothers and fathers in jail are increasingly debilitating to the stability of American families. Homes that should have mothers and fathers are crippled by the loss of a parent, or both parents, due to them being unnecessarily jailed.

The question is not whether or not we should punish people for crime. The question is whether our arrest, conviction, and punishment models are effective and fair. Also, we need to consider that some criminals have the potential to make a turn for the better. If we take this into consideration, we can use it to our advantage. So many of the 2.3 million people who languish in America’s prisons are willing to show changed behavior, it’s ridiculous that no one seems to notice or care. Especially when the resources devoted to facilitating their change are so minuscule.

Contrary to what many may think, everyone is capable of change. In recent discussions about criminal justice reform all the attention has been focused on nonviolent criminals receiving a second chance. Shouldn’t all criminals be given a chance to get things right? Get this! In recent case law Miller v. Alabama and Graham v. Florida the courts sought to remedy the problems inherent in issuing life sentences to juveniles. Their decision to alter the way juveniles are sentenced was based on three factors: 1) minors cannot control their environment 2) minors are easily influenced and 3) the personalities of minors have not fully developed. An overwhelming majority of the country’s prisoners are juveniles or were of juvenile age when they caught their case. They, to some degree, are likely to be victims of the influential nature of their own youth.

How many of the boys who entered prison full of thoughts that revolved around criminality have become men ready to embrace society in a healthy way? No one seems to ask this question. Statistics given by Prison Legal News say that only 2% of offenders who serve at least seven years in prison will recidivate.  This should serve as clear evidence that it does not take forever for the wayward to recognize the ills of their ways. It also gives support to the notion that some people deserve a second chance at life.

I know this to be a fact because I was convicted of murder at eighteen. Today, I am nothing like the boy who entered these prisons. Most importantly, a close look at my track record shows a consistent pattern of growth toward being a person of some value. Although I was convicted of first-degree murder, I claimed that my actions were in self-defense. The courts sided against me. In 1999 I was among the first to suffer as a result of Bill Clinton’s Truth-in-Sentencing laws. These laws dictated that I had to serve 100% of my sentence. One can only assume that the courts deemed it necessary that offenders serve everyday of a sentence, in order to make society safer.

During my sixteen years in prison. I have earned my G.E.D., participated in numerous prison programs, maintained positive community outreach through Live from Lockdown, and I am currently working toward and Associate’s Degree in Liberal Studies. My prison behavior record contains only one major disciplinary ticket in the last twelve years, which is very difficult in the prisons I have been in such as Menard, Pontiac and Stateville [Illinois Department of Corrections]. All of this goes to say, I have shown that I am a changed man. I am showing that I have qualities that could actually make society better. Unfortunately, I am still faced with force of Bill Clinton’s now admitted mistake. Since my sentence is 100%, instead of 50%, which it was before Bill Clinton changed the law, I am left with nineteen more years in prison.

Earlier I spoke of my efforts to change. My hope is to get people to recognize that some prisoners, whether their crimes were violent or not, should be given a second chance at life. Just as I understand the value of life, the necessity of law and order, and the need for positive people in society, so do many other prisoners. Prisoners who are trapped behind mistakes they made years ago, and have grown far beyond. Just as I yearn to show myself, my family, and the world how well someone from his terrible position in life (prison) can do with a second chance, so do many others. Only the people with the power to acknowledge our change are not willing.

It is not that prisoners are not willing to change. The problem is that lawmakers are not willing to reward prisoners for doing so. The problem is that many consider prisoners to be no further good. The problem is that the lawmakers simply will not give prisoners a second chance no matter how habilitated they are. I say habilitated because rehabilitated suggests that many prisoners were ever taught right and wrong. Many never were. What I want from lawmakers is the chance to show that I, and others like me, who have worked to change are worthy of a second chance.

  

One response to “Prisoner’s Open Letter to Melissa Harris-Perry”

  1. Brenda says:

    My son, Continue your quest to free physically freed, for you are free mentally.
    Love you much Kentake:)

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