Prison Radio
Reginald Sinclair Lewis

This essay is called, “Waiting For My Turn” by Reginald Sinclair Lewis. 

Some of us have read and seen local or national news reports about the brilliant behind-the-scenes work of Innocence Projects that led to the exoneration of countless men and women who spent years and even decades in prison for crimes they did not commit.  

We’ve seen the gaggle of television news reporters who swarmed the prison gates as newly freed prisoners. Faces beaming with joyous smiles walk proudly into the waiting arms of their loved ones. The scenes are deeply moving. After four long, harrowing decades behind bars for a murder I did not commit, I contacted a law professor and attorney Robert Randolph, University of Denver Storm College of Law and also sought assistance from the critically acclaimed law students at the Innocence Project in Illinois. 

But the attempts to reach out to me were boarded by racist, fascist, prison administration utilizing advanced […] technology, as well as pretextual reasons to illegally restrict/obstruct and reject the confidential legal mail. Perhaps this time, they’ll get to hear my story. 

On September 11, 1983, I was housed on G block in old Holmesburg prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That evening, I was approached by a convicted rapist, a violent gang leader in prison drug dealer named Michael Tang Hawkins. He was high on meth and angel dust. You see, I was the jailhouse lawyer, he needed my help to beat a case. A few days earlier, he had broken a young white inmate’s jaw while attempting to rape him. Creep. I told him I didn’t want to get involved and blatantly – blatantly – refused to legally assist.  Hawkins got angry and sucker punched me. Then armed with two shanks, stabbed me in the neck, chest, and the right arm.  

A riot erupted, the record shows that 50 or more inmates, some armed with weapons began to chase Hawkins down the long block towards the front gate yelling, “get that MF!” “kill him!” The investigative police report also shows that a homicide detective detained two unnamed armed suspects at the scene. But they were quickly released. Severely wounded, I was charged and arrested for the murder. 

The Federal District Attorney’s office assigned the case to the notorious Philly Prosecutor Roger King, widely known for framing, mostly poor African-American defendants with the most egregious prosecutorial misconduct. Forensic evidence showed the victim suffered a total of four stab wounds of different measurements. At trial, the medical examiner testified it was possible another prisoner could have inflicted the fatal blow.  On the night in question and when his memory was most fresh, Correctional Officer Leroy Randolph gave a sworn statement to the police that he had a clear view of the incident from the Rotondo. 

 “The [victim] was surrounded at the front gate,” he stated.  He saw that he was already bleeding profusely from a large gaping wound to the chest well before I came into view. At trial, however, he was the state’s star witness who conveniently changed his testimony. You see this corrupt Prison Guard had been arrested and indicted for drug dealing on the prison’s premises. But the judge would not allow the defense to impeach his credibility, mention the charge to the jury, or question this fine witness about any favorable treatment he may have received in exchange for his damaging testimony. 

Six, six inmate witnesses, six inmate witnesses were wanting to testify that this sexual predator, violent gang member, and drug dealer met his fate at the hands of someone else. In fact, 40 years later, he’s seen in the witnesses a profit, sworn affidavits, positively identified another prisoner as the actual killer. But the gatekeepers of the overwhelmingly white, male, patriarchal judiciary keeps assigning my case, to proxy Star Chamber judges of oppression or racial animus and a predisposition to rule against me.

Such as Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Scott DiClaudio, who’s been put up four times…  such as Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Scott DiClaudio, who has been brought up four times before the disciplinary board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for his unethical conduct. This corrupt judge refuses to recuse himself from my appeals, even though he was fiercely opposed by the Pennsylvania Bar Association as being unqualified for a seat on the bench. 

So I’m still waiting for my turn. For more information, see Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Reginald Lewis file number CP 51 CR 111, 3611-1983 Page Number 916. E. D. A. in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.  Please visit Reginald Sinclair Lewis on Facebook and Instagram. You can also donate to my defense fund @ cashapp RSL Defense.