Nicholas Feliciano was my baby [inaudible]. I initiated him into UFD on June 22nd, 2019 here at Great Meadow Correctional Facility. He was a young Hispanic kid born May 7th, 2001. Having just turned 18 years old when he was transferred here from the juvenile unit at Hudson Correctional Facility. He was an upbeat and happy kid, always smiling and giggling like a little boy.
Especially when him and Smokey—another young kid I initiated into UFD—were together. Which I found both maddening and refreshing. I connected with Nick and learned a lot about him in our short time together. I would walk the prison yard with him or be at the table with him, where I usually deal with other young [inaudible] and young prisoners I mentor.
I learned how much Nick loved his grandmother, Madeline, who he felt bad for letting down so many times. He was committed to doing the right thing this time to make her proud. And I encouraged him. I learned that Nick had an ex-girlfriend he still loved. And I learned how he grew up in foster care, not having his mother or father around. Reminding me of me during my days in foster care, wishing I had a family to take me in.
I used to tell Nick, quite seriously, I was going to adopt him as my son. I really loved that boy, and wanted to see him succeed. This is why it hit me especially hard when I learned Nick was on Riker’s Island in a medically induced coma with no brain activity. I broke down. He had just left here after making his mirror board. He was just here with me. How can my little man be gone? I couldn’t understand. I was in pain. I later learned Nick hung himself while, for seven minutes, guards watched him do it. Acting too late. Nick had mental health and emotional issues, but I knew how to reach him and keep him on track.
Prison guards are insensitive to what young prisoners are going through. Here at Great Meadow, prison guards picked on Nick as they do all young prisoners, provoking and taunting them. What happened to Nick is a painful example to me. Why I do the work I do, why I’m fighting so hard for recognition and approval of UFD. Nick took to UFD, it motivated and inspired him. But I knew when he got home, he would need further help, support, and reinforcement. I gave him my mother’s number and the numbers of two women who helped me, but I said it wouldn’t be enough. These prisons do not adequately prepare young prisoners for reentry back into society. And parole doesn’t provide them with sufficient support and resources.
I did everything I could to get in contact with Nick after he went home. Calling his grandmother and his ex, had my people look him up. I knew if he just heard my voice, he’d know that I’m there with him, but I couldn’t reach him in time. Now my baby boy is laying up in a hospital, braindead. The pain and hurt I feel is crushing. One of my babies is gone. You can’t do this work or help these young kids unless you love them as you would your own. Had I been out myself, I would have had Nick with me. I would have made sure he was good. My fight for my freedom is bigger than just me.
I have the mission to save the Nicks of my community, because the system won’t. Instead, the system just locks them up and places them under the supervision of insensitive guards who watch for seven minutes as they hang themselves.
This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York. Follow me @FreeDontieMitchell on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Send me an email or video-gram through Jpay.com with your questions and comments. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for listening and God bless.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.