Prison Radio
Dontie Mitchell

“Kim Kardashian West: The People’s Champ.”
The other day, I saw Kim Kardashian West on The View and couldn’t help but be impressed. Not because she’s a beautiful reality TV star, but because she’s a serious advocate for criminal justice and prison reform. I won’t lie, I wasn’t a fan at first. When people kept telling me how Kim was doing this or that to get people out of prison who didn’t deserve to be there any longer, I was like, so? There are those of us who have been on the front lines of this struggle for years, but we don’t get any real recognition.

What convinced me about Kim’s sincerity, however, is the fact she’s using her platform to bring light to the inherent racism within our criminal justice system. She has stepped up to fund the two Black female lawyers, Brittany K. Barnett and MiAngel Cody, who worked to get Alison Johnson and 17 more people out of prison. When no one else would fund their work. On top of all of that, Kim is actually studying to get a law degree and become a lawyer so that she can better understand criminal justice issues. Kim, when it comes to criminal justice and prison reform, you’re one of the people’s champs. You’re talking the talk and walking the walk on behalf of myself and all those deserving prisoners who are fighting for justice, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

But I need to say something to you, Kim. Criminal justice and prison reform is much larger than just focusing on nonviolent drug offenders. What about people like me? I was 17 years old when I committed a robbery, two attempt robberies, and related offenses but I didn’t hurt, harm, or injure anyone. I was a first-time [inaudible] offender who had an unsupported and tumultuous childhood. Growing up without a father and with a mother addicted to crack cocaine.

I’m not saying I didn’t deserve consequences for my crimes, but I was a child who was just thrown away into maximum security prisons, surrounded by older hardened criminals, where I was forced to adapt to survive. Our system incarcerates thousands of young offenders in adult prisons, or prison-like institutions, that make them worse due to their lack of brain development. I know this to be true because I grew up into adulthood behind prison walls. And I work to help young prisoners to change and better themselves.

I can’t speak for nowhere else, but the New York state prison system graduates young prisoners deeper into criminality, and nobody seems to care. I’m locked in a legal battle right now. I’m fighting on my own against the New York Department of Corrections and Community Services because they refuse to recognize and approve my UFD organization—which I use to positively organize, motivate, inspire, and educate young prisoners and to steer them away from gangs, drugs, and violence.

The department is actually trying to stop me from doing this work. People should know about that, because it’s like prison officials in New York state want us to fail. It’s my hope this message reaches you, Kim, and your camp, and that you take the time out to learn and more about my story and my work. For now, thank you for your advocacy work and being the voice of the voiceless.

This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York. Follow me on Facebook @FreeDontieMitchell. For those of you listening, please tag Kim Kardashian West so that she can hear this. Thank you for listening and God bless.

(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.