Still in Chains

Updated: Sep 3, 2018


Henry, Rosa Parks Circle, Grand Rapids, MI

“What I’d say, with a lot of felons, that though we may be free, we’re still locked up in our minds... and in society we’re still in some kinda chains.”

This is Henry. 

It was the summer of 2011. Henry was 21 years old. He had just been released from the hospital following his suicide attempt.

“I was just using drugs, to kinda, take away from all that. I was up for days.”

During a “cocaine binge” and while not in his right mind, he broke into his friends house to steal drugs and drug money. This later resulted in an altercation between himself and his friend. 

“So we fight, I lose... I still have a fractured vertebrae from that..”
“I wasn’t really in the right state of mind, I threatened him with a knife, backed everyone off from me.”

While the weapon was only brandished, the police were told a different story. He was arrested; accused of walking into the house unprecedented and assaulting people with the knife. 

“I went to jail. I did 2 weeks in intake...no bed or nothin, no blanket. Nothing.”

He was then placed into a regular holding cell for 3 months until he made bail. After waiting 6 months in painfully silent anticipation, he got his court order.

“I started going to court, I was facing twenty years.”

Luckily, Henry ended up getting 2 years probation instead of the two decade sentence. During his probation house searches, almost daily drug tests, meetings with probation officers, etc.were his life.

“They say jump you say how high ya know?”

He completed his 2 years probation with little to no error, but the challenges were far from over.

“I couldn’t go back to school [(Henry attended GVSU in Allendale, MI)]... when I went in there and explained I had a felony they laughed at me.”

with school out of the question, he started researching fields that felons could go into and quickly found how limited the options were.


Henry, Rosa Parks Circle, Grand Rapids, MI

Henry:

“Mostly I could just work as a cook or a chef, in that industry they don’t really care about your felony....there’s certain places I try to apply to and it’s simply a no-go...[having a felony] definitely makes you less valuable.”

Interviewer:

“Besides employment, how did or does your incarceration affected your relationships with friends? Do you feel like they treat you differently?”

Henry: 

“Most of my friends who know me, they know I’m a good guy. I mean the guy I stole from, I paid him back all of the money that I stole. As a matter of respect. We may not be best friends but I can’t say that we’re enemies. Most friends have kept me. They’ve treated me the same.”

Interviewer:

Is there anything else you’d like to say that you’d like people to know about life after incarceration?”

Henry:

“What I’d say is that, with a lot of felons, though we may be free, we’re still locked up in our minds... and in society we’re still in some kinda chains. I mean we can overcome that by, just, not seeing it that way, or having a new perspective. But it’s just a lot to get over. Especially being institutionalized for a while, when you come out you won’t even understand society, or new technology. I mean I only did three months but..”

Interviewer:

For some of these people doing 5, 10 years....”

Henry:

Yeah my friend who got out after doing 5 years, he..... it was like... talking to someone who doesn’t understand the same social rules as you...for them to adjust to that, they just don’t understand why we do things the way we do.”
“They see these people out here, unhappy with their lives, and they know they should be grateful because they’ve had so little.”

In his free time and for various clients Henry does graphic design. He designs logos, brands, and digital art. Here is some of his work. If you would like to get in contact with him to commission graphic design work, please contact me and I can get you in touch with him. 

Henry's original graphic design work

It was an absolute pleasure to meet and speak with Henry. Forgive Everyone Co. has plans to collaborate with him in the future on apparel designs and limited edition runs where portions of profits will be paid to him for use of his designs. 

Everyone has a story. Henry’s is one of many. If you or someone you know would like to share their story of life post-incarceration, feel free to reach out to me here or by email ForgiveEveryoneCo@outlook.com

Everyone deserves love. Everyone deserves forgiveness. #forgiveeveryone


#massincarceration #schoolsnotprisons #lifeafterprison #heartheirstory #listenmore #forgiveness #art

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