Hello. My name is Dontie S. Mitchell reporting from Great Meadow Correctional Facility. I’m the founder of UFD, which stands for the Ujamaa Fraternal Dynasty. UFD is a mutual self-improvement fraternity that I use as a classroom to positively organize, motivate, inspire, educate young prisoners, and to steer them away from gangs, drugs, and violence. Because despite UFD’s potential in countering gang violence and lowering prison recidivism, the Department of Corrections is not in official recognition and approval of UFD. They did so based on an outright lie and deliberate misinformation and too inconsequential reasons to question: Why I grew up into adulthood behind prison walls serving almost 22 years since I was 17 years old?
Tomorrow is my 39th birthday. I tell you from experience that New York prisons are graduating young prisoners deeper into criminality, making them more corrupt and dangerous. This is because the Department of Corrections does not care about correcting criminal behavior. Just look at the prison recidivism rates in New York: about seven out of ten people released from prison, get reincarcerated within three years. Programs like UFD are not supported nor encouraged.
In fact, I could be placed in solitary confinement for my outreach work through UFD instead and indeed I have been before, but I can not give up this fight. UFD is helping young prisoners change and better themselves. This should matter to you as taxpayers. 95% of those incarcerated will be released. Do you want those come out more corrupt, dangerous than when we went? Or would you rather, we come out being productive members of society and paying our fair share in taxes instead of preying upon you and terrorizing your communities. Reform and rehabilitation works. That is what UFD is about.
Follow me on Facebook at Free Dontie Mitchell and check out my video to search for Sentence at 17 Dontie Mitchell Story. Thank you.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.