Our Voices > We Are DC

Poverty is the Source of So Many Ills

Jul 3, 2022

The perspective of

Clayton Coleman

Incarcerated at

USP Victorville
in California

Year incarcerated


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

I'm a changed man. And I'm looking to make amends if and when I'm able to return home. From day one, I've been working on truly rehabilitating myself by putting God first, studying and practicing self-discipline, and I believe I deserve a second opportunity to show that I am someone who has something to offer the broader community. And there are many others like me. My photo was taken when I graduated from Life Connections, which is the most demanding and longest (18 months) rehabilitation program offered by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

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

D.C. prisoners should have a say in what transpires within D.C. because it's best for D.C. Think about it. We'll be coming home one day and we know what we'll need to be successful. How would it do D.C. any good to have people in positions of power who don't have our best interests at heart or know what needs to be addressed so we can be reintegrated into society?

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

One is how parole is administered. There are a lot of us who've been in prison a long time and are ready to come home, but who haven't been given the proper opportunity to show what rehabilitation looks like. Another is poverty, which has particularly crushed people of color in D.C. So many ills stem from this one source. And third, but not least, is quality education available to everyone. One's options are definitely different when you get a real education. You don't usually see people in prison who have PhDs!

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