Letter from MarQui: March 2019

In March 2019, IAHR kicked off a column composed by one of our pen pals who is incarcerated at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center in Virginia. Lawrenceville is a state prison. Our correspondent’s name is MarQui Clardy Jr.

What would you do if you stumbled into a room amongst a group of individuals who have been convicted of robbery, murder, gang activity, and using firearms? How would you react? Most people would likely perceive that group as some outlaw clique of thugs and gangsters, and they’d zoom out of that room faster than sonic the hedgehog. This is why, as a convicted felon, one of the many probationary terms to which I'll be subjected after I’m released from prison is that I won’t be allowed to affiliate with any other convicted felons. There’s a skewed perception among lawmakers- and maybe even society in general - That two or more felons socializing could only mean one thing… that we must be up to no good. That’s why the law was implemented, and violating it would likely land me right back behind bars.

I believe this is one of the most blatantly irrational laws ever created since, by the very function of prison, I’ve been around nothing but convicted felons for the past 11 years I’ve been incarcerated. In fact , if you were to stumble into my prison cell, you’d see exactly what I stated in the opening sentence of this essay: Me, serving my 33 year sentence for robbery; my friend “S” whose serving a 48 year sentence for murder and robbery; my friend “P,” who’s serving a 45 year sentence for murder, shooting in an occupied dwelling and malicious wounding; and my friend “Z,” whose serving a 9 year sentence for attempted carjacking and gang activity. However, what you won’t find in my cell are any outlaws, thugs, or gangsters. You’ll see four regular human beings who, for whatever reason or circumstances that personally impacted our lives, made poor choices in our youths and who, like everyone else, have since grown into better, wiser, more responsible adults.

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