Prison Radio
Izell Robinson

Plus his written oration reminded me of speeches I used to study at [inaudible] oratory competition. I knew that I had to place a keen focus back on becoming the old me. My- all my education, because it is what had led me to be successful beyond high school and beyond living in the hood in the first place. I didn’t want to allow any of my grandma’s sacrifices to be in vain.

I definitely knew it’s time for me to do something to give back to this man who somehow became lost and unaccountable for the dreams I had now deferred.

So I started doing positive prison programming, and I’ve completed the RJ 101 Building Character, Changing Faces 1 & 2 that the prison offers where I learned about developing empathy and character traits that empower good decision-making.

I’ve completed several alternatives to violence prevention workshops as a participant and co-facilitator where I learned skills to communicate in healthy ways to resolve conflicts.

I have completed anger management where I learned to identify feelings that get me deregulated and what I can do to cope and manage those feelings before they escalate the negative action.

I have participated in several Minnesota prison writing workshop classes, where I learned to be more expressive, heal, and get out what I wanted to say. I now had an opportunity, an outlet to be heard. In fact, I was achieving small feats and began to feel like that old me that was a scholar and man of potential which heightened my desire to want to take some college courses.

I noticed some flyers around the prison offering inmates an opportunity to enroll in college courses—and I knew I needed to take advantage of that to resurrect the part of me that had become lost. Now, I started to feel a renewed sense within that I wanted to finish what I started: obtain a college degree.

I knew that in spite of my situation, time was ticking away with me just sitting in the cell, doing nothing productive, and just dreaming the dream to resurrect my deferred dreams. I knew that I had to seek out a way to commit to achieving my educational goals. I refuse to let the system hold me back like it has done countless of others, because I want success over the many excuses of why cannot obtain it.

That is why we must advocate for prisoners’ rights to obtain a college degree while incarcerated. Statistics support that higher education options and participation for incarcerated prisoners reduce recidivism. Moreover, it gives a once hopelessly defeated prisoner like me—stained with a felony making job options minimal and difficult to acquire—a fighting chance.

That chance is the result of learned skills and reformation to be and desire better things for one’s life. Therefore it is important to lobby for grants and financial aid for prisoners to rehabilitate themselves partly through education and better life choices. I am proof that if the resources are available, the success is possible.

The proof: being confined, I’ve already obtained an Associate of Arts degree through Inver Hills Community College. I’m currently in treatment here at the rest of the facility.

I’ve just recently completed a year-long manufacturing production technology diploma certification program through Pine Technical Community College.

And I diligently been working to get enrolled in the Bachelor Degree tablet courses offered by Ashlyn University.

I know that these things can aid in me having a successful transition back into the community in a positive and productive way. As I look for stable job opportunities that I will be qualified for, staying focused on overcoming the excuses and obstacles that having a felony often burdens motivation.

This is why I am seeking out every resource and opportunity to achieve my goal, because in my mind, it is now or never, and it is never too late to figure out the now.

Thank you, and once again, if you want to offer any type of supportive feedback or comments, I can be reached, um, through JPay, through the email, and insert Minnesota for state, ID number 210006, or you can write Izell Robinson, Number 210006, at 7600-525th Street, Rush City, Minnesota 55609. Thanks.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.