Our Voices > We Are DC

If Given the Opportunity, I Could Amaze the World

May 22, 2022

The perspective of

Antonio Oesby

Incarcerated at

FCI Hazelton
in West Virginia

Year incarcerated


What do you want the broader DC community to know about you? About the broader community of DC residents behind bars?

I want the broader D.C. community to know that I am not what I've been convicted of. I care about people—so much so that even in prison, I shake hands with every opportunity to give guidance to those who are open to receiving it. I came to realize long ago that the Lord brought me into this world with a special assignment: to put a smile on someone's face and soul. It took many years for me to come to that realization, but when I did, I never looked back. From the age of 3 until now, I've endured hell on earth. But I learned to stay sane, loving and lovable! Hopefully, one day I'll be blessed with the opportunity to be back in society and can demonstrate that I can be a pillar of my community. As for my fellow D.C. residents in prison, I want to say: "OUR LIVES MATTER TOO!!!" We are people who should be helped, not forgotten. Whether innocent or guilty, we all need and should be given a real second chance, rather than judged only by our past convictions. Some of the most brilliant people you will ever meet are in prison, and when given an honest opportunity to soar, we could climb to heights that will amaze the world.

Why is it important for DC residents still incarcerated — and you in particular — to have a say in who makes decisions for the District?

If our voice isn't heard, there's a strong possibility we will become even more marginalized than we already are. Our existence is under fire; therefore, we must stand up and be counted!!! Our voice matters and our vote counts, and it scares the hell out of those who successfully silenced us thus far. I personally can no longer sit back and be silent. I am committed to continuing to make noise until my voice is heard...and respected. As the late Congressman John Lewis said (in part), "Don't be afraid to get in good trouble!"

As an incarcerated resident, what one to three issues do you most want DC candidates/officials to address?

The three things I most want D.C. candidates/officials to do are: 1) Build a prison for District residents that is closer to home, so that we no longer have to be scattered across the country far from home. 2) Pass a law making D.C. residents eligible for benefits offered by the First Step Act, and advocate to Congress to also expand the law to cover persons convicted of violent crimes. We're now excluded, and that means we don't qualify for many programs that could help us grow and develop as people. 3) Put politics aside and provide more support to those of us who not only really need assistance, but have proven to be worthy of it. Most of us will return to the community one day, so it's in everyone's best interest. Give us an honest chance to succeed...We don't need a hand out, but rather a hand up! It's virtually impossible for a bird to fly, if its wings have been clipped.