In 2007 he was a normal teenager who wanted to be a handsome ladies man and keep some money in his pocket while living with his parents and brothers. At a young age he found ways to make money by selling Pokemon cards, mix CDs, but in May 2007, a month before high school graduation, he made the biggest mistake of his life which resulted in an arrest for a violent felony. He was only 17 but charged as an adult. He spent almost six months at Rikers Island.
“Everything you heard is true, and more than likely worse. Things that happened there, I’m still coping with today. And these are things such as mentally preparing myself every time I wanted to call my family. They physically assaulted anyone who didn’t pay them to use the phone.”
He was strip-searched over 100 times. He said he thought his release date would be the best day of his life, but he had no idea that he was walking out of one nightmare into another as the criminal justice system continued to punish him in innumerable ways, including the threat of having his family evicted from their housing, the near impossibility of becoming gainfully employed and major barriers to accessing higher education.
“While other kids were getting letters of acceptance or denial, I was getting letters demanding my rap sheet, court records and details of the crime.”