I am Izell Robinson, Minnesota inmate number 210006, an innocent man confined within the quadrilaterals of systemic injustice, fighting to be heard and affect positive change. Yet to accomplish success, I need you to listeners to hear me and act. I’m only asking if I can be heard and count on you to act.
This is going to be my last commentary I’m doing from the inside because I get released tomorrow morning on parole, so I’m definitely excited about that. Today, I wanted to share a piece I wrote entitled, “Prison Radio, much needed for prisoners success and humanity.”
“You should never have been convicted. The system failed you. I’m sorry. And black men lives will never be valued by law enforcement or judicial systems. Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring value to you.” These are a few of the statements I’ve received in letters or emails from Prison Radio supporters who’ve listened to my commentaries. I have been elated to receive support and feel like my life matters to others and myself.
Confinement is an experience that’s often lonely, depressing, and inhumane, I’ve been a victim of sexual inappropriateness by male prison staff during the strip search, I’ve seen brutal fights between inmates, I’ve seen inmates die around me from COVID, and I’ve seen staff shortages causing abnormally lengthy lockdowns. These are only a small fraction of atrocities that I’ve had to contend with and still find peace while keeping my sanity. No doubt, I have PTSD.
However, when one is experiencing trauma, they need an outlet to just talk and be heard. For me, this outlet became the Prison Radio platform which has allowed me weekly access to record a commentary, to have a voice and humanize myself in the way that I can be heard. I was never put in a box and told what I can or can’t say, but I was allowed to just be me and share freely what I wanted.
I initially chose to talk about my conviction, because the most stress of my confinement comes from the reality that I’m a man confined for a crime I did not commit. Even worse, it’s a sex related crime, therefore people tend to shy away from supporting or not having biased thoughts. Yet, I took a chance at being vulnerable and exposing my plights and wounds. Then I realized, to really heal, I needed to share the other parts of me that allowed me to push forward, so I began creatively sharing essays, poems, raps, social justice awareness impacts, and interviews with family. I wanted you, the listeners, to see me beyond being an inmate and as a man of purpose, integrity, and humanity. And I accomplished that.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.