Shackled, When I Should Be Free!

Black men incarcerated

I get by on a wing and a prayer
and if you believe that, you’re a fool.
There are no Angels to help me out,
I’m just the subject of ridicule.

I’ll never get a moment to shine.
For in purgatory, I am stuck.
What did I do to deserve this life?
When I was born, I was out of luck!

I am the biggest fool there is,
thinking of brighter days ahead.
As I fight to stay alive,
and walk among the dead.

How many people give a damn
for a body in need like me?
Confined in a six by eight and
shackled when I should be free.

For thirty years, I’ll be in here.
It’s called the ‘war on drugs’.
And though liquor is their vice,
they turned us into thugs.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2014 Shelby I. Courtland

That bastard Obama has pardoned more goddamn turkeys than he has pardoned non-violent prison inmates whose only crime, in many cases, is getting caught with trace amounts of weed or cocaine on them. These people are not hardened criminals. But what will they become after spending thirty years in prison because of mandatory sentencing guidelines and in many cases, the judges have thrown up their hands in frustration because they are not given a choice but to sentence these people to decades behind bars? Yes, we have just got to feed the ‘For Profit Prison Industrial Complex’. And yet, at one time alcohol was considered a vice that led to ‘immoral’ behavior(those goddamn religious fanatics had a hand in that, no doubt) and was made illegal with Prohibition. That shit ceased. So, why is it so hard for them to figure out that the same should apply to people who have been arrested on non-violent drug charges? Well..when there is 2.3 million Americans behind bars and half of them are African Americans, draw your own conclusions. I’ve drawn mine!

…oh and lest I forget, why has not one Wall Street ‘executive’ been arrested? Hint! Look up their net worth and their pictures! Yes indeed, what is in your bank account or not in your bank account and the color of your skin can send you in or keep you out!

Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933.[1] The dry movement, led by rural Protestants in the Democratic and Republican parties.

Yep, Prohibition was driven by those damn religious fanatics, alright!

10 thoughts on “Shackled, When I Should Be Free!

      1. It really IS outstanding and so sadly…true. I cannot even begin to count how many prisoners I worked with who are serving the most ungodly sentences…for pot. It is ridiculous, absurd…oh, and of course, it’s just more greedy profit-mongering from the Pigs In Power – several of which own stock in private prison companies. RAWR!


  1. …and MisBehaved, no one is even trying to address this horror! But of course there will be no addressing of this horror when our (s)elected officials are bought and paid for by these FOR PROFIT prison corporations. Why would they do anything to staunch the flow of inmates into those hellish institutions when prisons are big business? The government and big pharma are the biggest drug runners because we all know why the U.S. is insistent on remaining in Afghanistan, poppy(opium) plants, anyone? Then when the drugs are put out on the streets by the CIA, then the government troops swoop in, make an arrest and fuel the prison population. And convict labor is cheap, with no benefits to worry the bottom line, no vacation pay, no holiday time off. A fucking win-win all the way around.

    I read just the other day, that there are hunger strikes going on all over this country in prisons due to the inhumane treatment and flat out brutality. And another sad fact is that this situation is widely known and no one is doing a goddamn thing about reining that shit in either!

    If anybody is wondering why I am turning into the ‘human’ version of the Tasmanian Devil, all they need do is read some of these essays and poems of mine. If they’ve got an ounce of humanity, they’d get mad as hell over the sheer, outrageous numbers of injustices that just keep piling up. Hell! I cannot even keep up with them!

    People say that there is hope, if there is, somebody tell that to my pen because it is dipped in Hell with no heavenly light in sight!

    Thank you MisBehaved for your humanity, for caring and because this shit gets to you in a profound way!


  2. As a teacher with special education experience working with students with emotional/behavioral disabilities, I have seen third graders handcuffed and how seamless the transition from school into the juvenile justice system is for poor, brown and black students. We are a nation at-risk and the prison industrial complex is yet another stain on our national conscience. Thanks Shelby.


    1. Thank you Jeff! Third graders handcuffed! Wow, just wow! I’d be in prison myself if one of the handcuffed had been MY kid and THAT is a fact!! For the love of …..! And yet, we’re heading into Black History Month with celebrations and for what??? I would dearly love to know just what is there to celebrate?!!! I’ll be sitting this one out as I see not a damn thing to celebrate!

      Thanks again!


  3. What really gets me, Shelby, is all the African Americans who end up with felony convictions on their record even though their innocent of their charges (sometimes the police themselves know their innocent but are under pressure to “solve” crimes ).

    Because they can’t afford a proper attorney, defendants are stuck with a public defender who will pressure them to plead out. You can’t really blame the public defenders. Their work load is way too heavy and they’re never given an adequate budget to pay the investigator necessary to build a defense..

    For many of these people, their only crime is being poor and having brown skin. Doing the jail time isn’t the worse part, either. They can forget getting a job when they get out – unless they lie on their employment applications. They will also lose food stamps, public housing and in some cases, their kids. Check this out:


    1. “Erma Faye Stewart, a single African-American mother of two who was arrested at age 30 in a drug sweep in Hearne, Tex., in 2000. In jail, with no one to care for her two young children, she began to panic. Though she maintained her innocence, her court-appointed lawyer told her to plead guilty, since the prosecutor offered probation. Ms. Stewart spent a month in jail, and then relented to a plea. She was sentenced to 10 years’ probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Then her real punishment began: upon her release, Ms. Stewart was saddled with a felony record; she was destitute, barred from food stamps and evicted from public housing. Once they were homeless, Ms. Stewart’s children were taken away and placed in foster care. In the end, she lost everything even though she took the deal.”

      And of course, when she’s homeless, she will be arrested again because of vagrancy laws that are flying on the books in just about every city in America in order to incarcerate the homeless out of sight. The (in)justice system is rigged from the get-go and as the article states is ‘championed’ by politicians who are eager, for personal gain, to see stiff sentences imposed for even the most minor of offenses. Those evil, depraved snakes have set those people up and are then laughing all the way to the bank over the fact that they are receiving kickbacks from the For Profit Prison Industry. This is just maddening!!!

      “The Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that threatening someone with life imprisonment for a minor crime in an effort to induce him to forfeit a jury trial did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to trial. Thirteen years later, in Harmelin v. Michigan, the court ruled that life imprisonment for a first-time drug offense did not violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.”

      Life imprisonment for a first-time drug offense? Seriously???!!!! That is NOT considered to be cruel and unusual punishment???!!! For the love of…..!!!! Just what in the hell constitutes ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ these days? I’m beside myself in trying to figure THAT one out!! To say that I am stunned beyond belief at the cold hearted, callousness of it all does not give it, dare I say, justice??!!!! Like I always say, “we are some sick shits,” to know that this is being played out in courtrooms all across America, each and every single day and we’re just fucking fine with it!

      Stuartbramhall, once again, you have given me ‘food’ for thought with that link you posted and I am SO extremely disheartened! When the fuck is enough, ENOUGH for us?!!! I just don’t get it!! Mercy, mercy me!!!

      Thank you for your comment Stuartbramhall! Now, I’ve got to pull myself together. What the fuck!!!


    1. Thank you HLJ! This is just all so hard to take in, it really is! So much (in)justice, just SO damn much of it!

      Again, thank you for the standing ovation, much, MUCH appreciated and also for your comment! Bless your heart!


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