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Unshackled Voices

Unshackled Voices are the voices of people who are incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and people who's lives have been effected by the criminal Justice system. Their stories are a reflection of an unjust criminal justice system and it's effects not only on the incarcerated but their family's and loved ones.

There are so many voices that speak of the harsh, unfair racist bureaucratic system which is born of the systematic racism America was built upon. 

Freedom Unshackled Decries Loss Of Care Packages For Inmates 
by The Sanctuary for Indipendent Media.         8/19/22

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The NYS prison system will no longer allow inmates to receive care packages from family members either through an in person visit or by mail. Roni Mintor, a formerly incarcerated individual living in Albany, is a co-founder of the Freedom Unshackled Coalition and Sistas Healing Old Wounds. She describes the hardships this change will present. With Mark Dunlea for Hudson Mohawk Magazine.

Another Death in Prison

by Ken Siegel


Another death in prison.

A woman, some say.


Others, just an inmate.

In any case not a human being.



She hung herself.

Left a note,

Sister’s name address,

Can’t find her.


Is this a loss?

I guess it only counts

If at some point

You are considered a human being.

If not, no loss.


How can any portion of humanity

Not be considered worthy?


Arrogance? Ignorance?

Maybe fear.


I’ve heard that fear of the unknown is a common trigger.


How can we not know her?

Is she a monster or just unknown?

Maybe another reflection of fear?


God forbid, she maybe sick.

Mentally ill?

Well she’s dead now.


Did we care?

What was her name?


How did she get here?

Committed a crime

Of course.


Everyone who is here (prison) deserves to be

You know they violated us – society

The rules, the law


They must be punished,

Got to pay.


How can people be so foolish,

as to come to prison?

Don’t they know any better?

You would think.


Maybe she/they were dropped on their head

At an early age,

Maybe molested, raped, or beaten as a child,

You know some type of dropping

On their heads.


Maybe their Daddy beat their momma

In front of them,

Maybe he climbed into bed when the night came,

Maybe when momma or daddy was drunk and shots were fired

Someone young got hit,

But did not bleed from the wound,

It festered and rotted until infection came.


Maybe the infection was brain damage (mental illness),

Maybe HIV,

Maybe alcoholism,

Maybe drug abuse,

Maybe violence,


Maybe these infections

Are fixed by incarceration?


Treatment wouldn’t help,

Lock em up that works,

It must, we put so much money into it

It must work. ($35,000 per year per person)


Well at least it offers a broken heap of a human,

 Maybe not human,

 An opportunity to kill themselves.


Think about it.

Or not

In Memoriam

Glenna McCarthy  recently passed away while undergoing oral surgery.  She had recently started working as a social worker after a major struggle getting her degree. Living for 25yrs with HIV and a survivor of everything imaginable. She also wrote two e-books about her life.

I met her on Albion and will never forget her.


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My secret dog inside Attica prison  Michael Rhynes | TEDxAttica

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Listen to this entertaining performance piece as an incarcerated man inside Attica confesses to an audience (including the head of corrections for New York State) about the hidden dog in his cell and various methods he uses to deal with the traumas of incarceration.

Michael has been incarcerated since the age of 23. He is now 58. Michael’s endeavor to reconnect to his humanity through the arts finds its roots in the same fertile ground that produced the Harlem Renaissance. Rising from the ashes of his past, he has produced a chapbook of poems entitled, “Guerillas in the Mist.” Michael co-created and co-founded the Phoenix Players Group at Auburn Prison. He also initiated a domestic violence prevention program while at Auburn. At Attica, he created and co-founded the 3rd Prison from the Sun Theater Group. Michael obtained his associates degree in Arts and Humanities from the Cornell Prison Education Program. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.


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