Who We Are

More Than Our Crimes seeks to give a voice to the thousands of Americans, mostly people of color, who were once convicted of violent crimes and now have served a decade or more behind bars and deserve a second chance to live freely and contribute to their families and society. Our goal: to assure these individuals are included in the growing wave of reform proposals designed to end mass incarceration.

We work by sharing the stories of both individuals still behind bars and those who have won their release, humanizing them to those who only know their past crimes. We use these stories to educate as well as to advocate for humane and fair reform.

More Than Our Crimes was founded in 2020 by Robert Barton and Pam Bailey, who forged an unusual collaboration after meeting through a penpal letter exchange.

Pam Bailey and Rob Barton clasping hands and smiling. Pam has two fingers up as a peace sign.
Robert Barton

Robert Barton


Robert grew up in southeast D.C. and was convicted of murder at the age of 16; he was not the actual shooter in the crime but was present and thus judged to be as guilty as the one who was. He is serving a sentence of 30 years to life, but has used that time to read voraciously; write the first draft of a book; earn an associate degree in business administration; and—when he returned to the D.C. jail for nearly two years in a petition for early release, become both a mentor for the Young Men Emerging program and a 4.0 participant in the Georgetown Prison Scholars program. That petition, along with an application for parole, was denied and he is confined today to the U.S. penitentiary in Coleman, Florida. He regularly publishes with Pam Bailey, his collaborator, on a Medium blog.

Pam Bailey


Pam grew up in Chicago, where she began her career as a daily newspaper crime reporter. Today, she is a freelance journalist; founder of and writing coach for We Are Not Numbers, a youth program in the Gaza Strip; and—now—activist for reform of the justice system in the United States.

Man with shaved head and beard kneeling

Askia Afrika-Ber

Staff Writer

Askia (aka Darnel Herndon) is a DC native who is currently incarcerated. He explains his “chosen” name this way: “I took Askia from the illustrious West African Songhai Emperor Muhammad Toure. Toure took the title of Askia, which means “general.” (The brother was a leader and teacher of men. In the streets, my homies expected me to organize our moves, knowing I’d always bring them back alive and unharmed. Now, I am now trying to use those same skills and energy for righteous purposes.) The surname Afrika is a nod to John Africa, founder of MOVE. (For the unfamiliar: MOVE is a Black organization whose members believe that “everything alive moves. If it didn’t, it would be stagnant.” When members greet each other, they say, “on the MOVE.”) Askia is committed to the liberation and independent development of all oppressed people.