A Second Chance

By: Jermaine Hicks

Prison, crime, and punishment are necessary for a civilized society but so is rehabilitation. This gives a person a chance to acknowledge their mistakes, and an opportunity to fix the problem that always affects others. In my situation, the only problem that needs to be fixed is me. We as humans are destined to make mistakes. As children, we have all fallen victim to our mistakes. We have all been accused of doing wrong and finally, In God’s eyes, we are all sinners. In his eyes also, we receive redemption through his love and grace. This exists for us all. So too, our society and laws should offer redemption for those who have discovered resilience and rehabilitation out of their moment of making a mistake.

Here in prison, where I compose these very thoughts, it can be hard for those of you to acknowledge my redemption. You can’t read my mind, feel my heart or see my daily walk, but somewhere in this demonstration, I hope you find my seriousness towards my atonement.

In 1994, I was charged with capital murder. Even though I was not the killer in this crime, I was convicted and given a life sentence. The accused killer received less time and twenty years later went home on parole. I arrived at prison at age 17, 165 pounds, in handcuffs in 1996, uneducated, gang related, no family support and very lost. My father was sent to prison as well as all my brothers except one. I have always been a part of this system, born into foster homes, juvenile centers, placements, then to a state prison far away from home. If there is a case for “School to Prison Pipeline”, I’m it.

My first ten years in prison were harsh. From 15 years old to 26, I received no visits from family and very few letters. I was bitter, but I still had the gang life which showed me an unnatural sense of love. I acted out due to carelessness and frustration. I believed that my life was meant to be this way. Gangs, guns, drugs and prison cells., No family to care for me, no motivational role models to enlighten my path through this struggle. All I had was me. I had to make a decision. I had to give myself a chance or be a fool for the rest of my life in a world of sadness. I pulled myself up by first forgiving my circumstances and by making better decisions, because as an adult you must own those decisions, good or bad. Teaching myself how to read and write, I learned about my struggles as a black man living in America. I cried when I found out the truth about our path. In 2004, I renounced my affiliation as a gang member. I felt sick to know how those actions of “banging” affected so many years of progress for a group of people who fought, cried, died, struggled and prayed to every God known in the universe to gain equality in a world where it should be a birthright. I owe them every respect, my very breath for the price of freedom.

This is how my change began. I realized that I was not guilty of murder but so much more. I found that God will put you in a situation in your life to humble you and allow you to realize the bigger picture, the picture that illustrates a better you, as well as showing you a life that you are allowing to pass you by. In those moments, I discovered a purpose and a vision that goes far beyond what I am capable of doing alone. I discovered a gift and a jewel of purpose that went outside my prison cell. Jermaine Hicks 760638 Coffield Unit 2661 F.M. 2054 Tennessee Colony Texas 75884