by  Michael X. Bell

A lot of people often ask and wonder “How does a person manage to survive (mentally or physically) after spending nearly two decades of their life in prison? And what is to become of someone who gets incarcerated at age of fourteen and is sentenced to spend the rest of their entire life locked away in prison?” I ask, rather the conviction was just or not, how can such a cruel and unusual punishment tactic as giving kids life sentences in adult prisons, be allowable under the code of law?” And then there are those who believe, or at least “say” they believe that this doesn’t happen in America!

This Doesn’t Happen In America

This doesn’t happen in America? I cannot speak for every individual person who is in my same situation, or for people who are in situations similar to mine. Everyone should be entitled to speak on their own behalf. But do we really get the chance to do that? So while everyone’s situation and experience may be unique, there does exist some universal similarities. It is these universal similarities that I can and that I do speak, a universal truth. The truth of the situation is that when you are in prison, you are subjected to a constant and consistent state of suffering! In today’s society, prison is the closest thing/place we have as our own modern day version of Hell on earth. This constant suffering and the daily life in a prison environment is designed to attack your soul, your humanity, your mind, and your overall mental stability.


I’m suffering, but there has always been a degree of suffering in my life. I’ve come to accept that my life will never be what I consider “Perfect”. The suffering that comes from spending the rest of your life in prison is hell because this suffering is eternal, unchanging, and always existing! If you’ve never been in this type of environment, you may not understand or be able to imagine the suffering and images that I’m trying to point. Through my pen, I’ll try to paint a picture the best I can.

Picture This From A Bird’s Eye View

You are at a funeral but you don’t know who’s funeral it is. You look around to get a feel of the environment and to see who is all there. As you look around, you see that some people are dressed in all black, they’re crying and mourning the deceased but as I’ve said “only some.” Most of the people at the funeral seem to not even know that they are at a funeral. You walk up to the casket nally seeing who is in the casket. You’re shocked and feel like you’ve just been punched in the kidneys. The dead person in the casket is you! Before you have a chance to react or respond to what you are seeing, you instantly become one with the lifeless body inside of the casket. Your view is now from inside of the casket looking up. You can’t really see the other people but you can still hear their voices. At this point, you’re casket is closed shut and you’re being lowered into the ground, panic, fear, irritation and more panic all begin to seep in. Somehow you manage to open our eyes, through the rest of your body is in a paralyzed state.

You are now six feet in the ground and “they’ve” began to throw dirt into the six foot hole in which you will reside. You begin to scream and yell “help, help!” I’m not dead! Someone please help me. I’m not dead yet!!! But no one seems to notice that you are being buried live. After so long of screaming and yelling for help, you began to realize no one can hear you and maybe that is because no one wants to.

Now you begin to wonder “Is this it? Is this how my life end? Why have all of my loved ones forsaken me? Is God punishing me? Why has society turned a blind eye to my suffering? This is how it feels for me to be in prison.