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April 20, 2020

Writing Cards for Imprisoned Youth

The Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Facility experienced a coronavirus outbreak recently (read more here). These folks are kids, a lot of them my age, and I didn't want them to feel neglected during these hard times. So I reached out to Mya, a volunteer that worked with the Boys Jubilee Choir at the facility. She gave me the names of 17 prisoners, each of whom I addressed a letter to. I wanted something heartfelt, but nothing too serious, so I beefed them up with stickers and a "greetings from the resistance" postcard on the back. I wrote reassurances like "we're here for you" and "you're in our hearts."

Inside the envelope I also included a selection of poems: Redemption Song, Invictus, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, and Let America Be America Again. After that, it was time to seal them and send them to Bon Air! I know it's not much in the grand scheme of things, but I believe that these letters can make all the difference for folks in prison. 

To take action in the fight against excessive imprisonment (especially for minors), in exchange for more effective alternatives, visit and support Rise for Youth

To learn everything you need to know about the School to Prison Pipeline (the underlying issue that my cards didn't begin to address), read this article from the Justice Policy Institute. 

EDIT: since writing this, the outbreak has been contained-- at the expense of the prisoners' sanity. Activities have been restricted, and prisoners are mostly confined to their tiny rooms. The point is: we must remember that coronavirus is hardly the issue. If your roof is leaking, should you blame the rain or the shoddy patchwork?

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