Prison Radio
Ivan Kilgore

So, you know, the young man who they just recently arrested- his name was Somali Martin. And, you know, I knew Somali very well, and he- I don’t think he been out of prison for 20 days. He just paroled from his prison, I think, within the last month or so. And, you know, he was one of the kids that was in my creative writing classes, and unfortunately he wasn’t able to complete the class due to the administration discontinuing the program during the COVID outbreaks for the past two years.

And I think it’s pretty important to understand what these writing classes and so forth, what they’re about, you know. Particularly, this creative writing class was to assist a lot of brothers like Somali to gain emotional intelligence and impulse control. And, you know, what’s interesting as this whole story plays out- we already see that the media is gearing up for a field day to basically talk about, you know, one of those stories about an ex-con released from prison that, you know, will fuel the fire of gun control and tough-on-crime initiatives.

I think one of the saddest parts of the story, though, that won’t be told is the story about how, you know, the young brother has spent the last decade as a child cause he came into the system when he was 16. And being psychologically tortured by the California Department of Corrections. And when I talk about torture, you know, I’ve been in prison for 22 years, and I’ve seen, witnessed, experienced myself being tear gassed, canister grenades thrown on me, you know, billy-clubbed by the guards, caged, humiliated, starved, and emasculated by staff.

And that’s not to mention being denied access to programs that would have assisted, you know, the young brother to identify high risk people, places, and things, and develop emotional intelligence and impulse control. You know, I’m not saying that these programs are not necessarily available in prison, however, as I previously noted, there’s a number of obstacles that hinders our ability to participate in these prisons.

I mean, it’s really to the point to where recently we saw the California State Assembly put forward the Senate Bill 292 which recently went into effect as an effort to curtail prison officials from disrupting prisoner participation in programs that would have aided young brothers like Somali to, you know, develop that emotional impulse control or prevent him from easily identifying those areas of high risk.

Now, this is what I’m looking at as this whole story develops. There is not going to be any accountability on part of the state in terms of what this man was subject to for the last ten years. And, you know, we’re going to see tough-on-crime proponents and other people discuss and talk about the senseless violence, and they’re gonna discuss this in a way that disregards the whole structural and social problems that, you know, are underlying cause the fundamental problem is we’re seeing violence and that’s including the intentional failure of societies, penal institutions in and of themselves.

I mean, we’re here in this era of rehabilitation that we’re hearing that’s going on in prison systems, and that’s not what’s happening in here. And I’m seeing, you know, firsthand accounts that the administration is doing everything they can to prevent us from actually getting into these programs.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.