“Be honest. If you owned California, would you end incarceration in prison?”
Joadanus Olivas continues,
“Probably not. It’s too good economically. It’s all about numbers.”
Joadanus has been incarcerated since he was sixteen years old. Now, fourteen years later, he is calling from Kern Valley State Prison. He describes himself as “one of light, peace, growth, maturity, and knowledge … I’m trying to heal the world.” His commentaries are poetic: describing his running, he says,
“By my fifth lap, hell was all lost. And then the prison yard turned into Africa. I was on the Nile River. My sweat transformed into holy water. My feet glided on the clouds, like a stork…I’m going nowhere, but I get so far away. When I run, no one could come around me.”
In 2020, he and an artist friend Cruz created the artistic collective Still Hope. “One thing that makes my time not so hard is outside support in the ability to communicate with loved ones or just being able to record this essay here…Older fellow prisoners I know have done 20-plus years and they carry on, they still hope. So what me and Cruz is forming is teaching this ability to carry on.”
He describes his time in prison: “I … heard the best professors, debaters, and orators … I met [them in] ‘freshman year’ … in administrative segregations … what we call the hole. I received … literature and wrote so many essays when I was there.”
Joadanus calling from Kern Valley State Prison, Delano, California.
Joadanus often critiques the carceral system, asking, “Are prisons better than colleges? This repeated question is continuous in my mind. It seems they are. I mean, there are more prisons than colleges. It costs more to house me here in prison than it does to house me in a college dorm.”
Correspondents like Joadanus Olivas speak truth to power and shine light on what happens inside prisons.
When officers threatened to extend his solitary confinement after he exposed the illegal “Blue Lives Matter” decals on their uniforms, Joadanus thought: “I’d rather die than be silent. My ancestors died. I’m not scared, keep me longer than 6 months. And this environment was torture, but its individuals have spent decades in that place. I cry for them. This– what I reveal– is only the tip of the iceberg … My eyes are open now. Are yours?”
When We Fight, We Win,
Prison Radio Staff