#2096 - Josh Dubin & Sheldon Johnson

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Josh Dubin

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Josh Dubin is the Executive Director of the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice, a criminal justice reform advocate, and civil rights attorney. https://cardozo.yu.edu/directory/josh-dubin

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Mr. Dubin, good to see you again, sir. Mr. Rogan. Always a pleasure. Introduce your friend. This is my friend, my client, my brother, Sheldon Johnson. I figured we'd do something a little bit different. Typically, the person sitting to my right is someone that was wrongfully convicted. So I don't want to bury the headline. Sheldon is guilty. And I thought it would be a real interesting conversation to learn his background, learn about his upbringing, learn about the crime that he committed, and hear the sentence he got, which I don't want to shade it and inject my opinion. I have a strong one, but it's pretty astounding how he was treated by the system. I think that there's a real interesting twist that happens at his sentencing. And I know I've said this before and it probably sounds repetitive, but another miracle sitting to my right, just like a marvelous human being who was basically told by a judge, a marvelous human being who was basically told by a judge, by an African American judge that you don't matter, you don't count, and I'm going to throw your life away for a crime in which the victim received two stitches and on a second offense, his first offense being a gun possession charge So I will say this that he received a sentence that far eclipses a sentence That would be commonly doled out for murder or manslaughter So with that [2:02] Here's Sheldon Sheldon how long you been out for? Going on nomads. I got out May 4th. And you were in for 25, 25 years, and five months. Whew. Two stitches. Two stitches. Jeez. But one of the things that always struck me about Sheldon was I didn't know him. And I got a call from these two remarkable attorneys at an organization called the Center for Appellate Litigation. Barbara Zolod and Allison Hopped, who had been working on his case for a long time. And they called me and Derek Hamilton and said you know we know you're working on some stuff with them in Haton district attorney's office we have this case that is sort of hit a snag I want you to take a look at it and see if you could help us and I called Barbara back and said I think I think that there's a mistake here because it says that he was sentenced to 50 years [3:09] I mean, that's no bullshit. I could not believe what I was reading and then I read about what Shelton had accomplished while in prison And then his early as date of release was I think 20 20 49 49 and He had already served 25 years. So I was just blown away by the level of accomplishment and the mental wear with all that he possessed to accomplish what he did while incarcerated. And then the path he's taken in the eight months since he's been out is we talk about on these episodes how do you make change happen? He's living it and making it happen. So I thought it would be just fascinating to go through [4:00] like I said his life, how he got to where he was, why he got this, what his thoughts are, and our thoughts are on the sentence he received, why that happens too often to people of color. And I know there's one thing I wanna say, and then I'm gonna shut up, and then I really let Sheldon talk and you talk. I get this a lot, why are you always bringing up race when you talk about the system? My response to that is if you don't talk about how it impacts the system, even for people that have been found guilty, it's like having a conversation about President Biden and ignoring the very obvious apparent cognitive deficiencies he has it would be like talking about Donald Trump and not Recognizing that he seems like an unhinged lunatic. It would be like talking about [5:03] Kamala Harris and ignoring that she you know didn't do much to advance criminal justice reformer you have to confront it just it's there uh... is it that all people to get wrongfully convicted or people of color no but most of them is it that all people of color get disparate sentences oh absolutely um... so Is it that all people of color get disparate sentences? Oh, absolutely. So, that's why I thought that this is an important conversation to have, and getting to know Sheldon just thought he has a remarkable story to tell and a perspective on his circumstances, the system, and he's someone that's taken responsibility for what he did. And I think it's a living example of what can happen if we think long and hard about if someone's life is worth just throwing away and putting behind bars so that they can rot in a dank cell because he would have been 70 years old when he got out, way past his life expectancy. [6:05] old when he got out way past his life expectancy. You know, one of the things that's happened through all of our conversations that we've had on the show is it highlights how insanely broken the criminal justice system is and how little oversight there is and how few people are looking at these individual cases and that you can have one judge who does what they did to you. And no one's looking. No one cares. No one pays attention. And until someone like you goes in and starts combing over this and then coming up with a strategy to actually apply real justice or at least get someone out. I mean, the only way to apply real justice is to have a fucking time machine, right? But it's broken. I mean, it's so broken and it seems so overwhelmed and the root cause of it is never addressed. [7:03] The root cause of, I mean, I've said it ad nauseam, but I'll say it again. Where the fuck did we come up with 100 and whatever billion dollars to send to Ukraine? And we don't have any money to try to do something about these insanely impoverished crime-ridden gang-ridden, drug-ridden communities. We don't do anything. We have nothing. I mean, this is my take on this whole Make America Great Again thing. You want to make America great again? Make it so there's less losers. Make it so that more people have a fucking chance. The idea that everyone starts on the same line, I mean, I'm not talking about equality of outcome. That's not possible. But equality of opportunity is possible. That's a possible goal. And at least we could advance that. At least we could do something to just change the course [8:04] of who knows how many people's lives. And we don't do a fucking thing about it. I mean, we're looking at each other because we just had lunch before we came to the precise conversation that we had. I told you this is a motherfucker that gets it. Oh, I know. It just makes no sense to me. It makes no sense to me and it's not a subject of any presidential debates. It's not a subject of anybody who's running for Congress or running for Senate. We have to fix this. This is a problem. It's been going on for decades and decades back through Jim Crow, back all the way to slavery, the same communities. And we don't do anything. Pull that a little red lining, everything. Pull that mic up a little bit. Yeah, just, just, that's good. That's good. Yeah, that's good. I mean, it's wild. It really is wild. And, you know, and the race part of it is a major factor. [9:01] It's a major factor. And it's a factor that gets ignored when people start talking about racism, systemic racism in country. Talk about sentencing. How come that's not talked about? Yeah, well, that's a vestige of slavery, segregation, gym crow, red minding, everything. Excessizing your rights to a jury trial, and punish twice. Yeah, it's hard to know where to pick up because we just had this conversation. But you're, you know, look, well, let's preface the episode by saying this. We are doing something about it. Keep telling you that this forum keeps paying dividends. We are making progress. We are opening people's minds. I'm getting letters from prosecutors. I'm getting letters from sheriffs. I got a letter from a sheriff in Oregon last week, and he sent me a badge and said, [10:00] I wanna show you how committed I am to trying to make change happen. And it was from this show. So we're doing it. We're addressing it. We're making it happen. Why politicians don't, you know, what drives someone to want to get into politics these days is for a different psychiatrist. This is a fucking, I have no clue what the allure is but you know like there's such a swirl of ego and power struggle and divided loyalties. I can't even wrap my head around it, but You know we're doing it. We're helping we got to do it grain of sand by grain of sand until we have a sandcastle so that's what we're doing So I do think we're making a difference. But you know it's crazy because Sheldon and I are the same exact age and we didn't know that until we were on our way down. One day is a pot. Yep. And he flew when we flew down it was a first time he'd ever been on an airplane. Wow. Was that like... [11:05] Fucking weird, right? No, I actually loved it. I was very excited. I'm kinda like an adrenaline rush. Just the speed of it and just the whole idea of just... I had this analogy in my head when I was up in clouds and I'm looking down and I said to myself I said I just came from the bowels of hell spending 25 years in prison and now I'm In the sky above the clouds in heavens headed to a destination to Talk about change and to talk about all of the things that brought me to this place today and the conditions in which I grew up and how social conditions play a role in the decisions that we make. Or the lack of achievements or opportunities like judges said a couple of minutes ago, [12:02] those opportunities are very important and being able to start that line where everybody is not necessarily equitable, but everybody has that same opportunity. You have a chance. You have a chance. A real chance. Well, so tell us about your upbringing. So I'm a coda, my mother's deaf, my father's deaf, my sister's deaf, my aunt's deaf. I grew up in a deaf household. What's a coda? A coda is a child of deaf adults. That's crazy. This is a second podcast in a row. I'm doing what someone was like that. Yeah. Moshe Cashier, who was on yesterday. His parents are deaf. He signs and you know, he's he's he had a Trans translate for his mother his whole life. Same with me. So as a child growing up, my mother's also white. My grandmother came to America in 1918 from a boat from Sicily. My father is Nigerian. He's African. So there was always this contrast where I wasn't really sure [13:01] where I belonged that. Kids are cruel. So growing up, kids would say, oh, you're my lot, oh, you're half-breathed and oh, you're adopted. And for a long time, I kind of suffered as a child within identity crisis, not really knowing where I fell at on either side. What my identity was, who I was supposed to be. And my father, I'm also a product of intergenerational incarceration. My father was incarcerated when I was young at an early age. He did about 15 years. I was incarcerated. My grandfather was incarcerated. My great grandfather was a slave. And my son killed somebody when he was 12 years old. So that there's this cycle of incarceration based on the conditions, the social conditions and where I come from. I grew up in New York City, Harlem on the borderline between East Side and West Side on Fifth Avenue. You hear Fifth Avenue, you're like, oh wow, you live in a nice place. [14:00] Okay. I'm crack error Harlem, 80s, 90s. You You know and I grew up you know Protecting my mother interpreting for my mother my mother could hardly ever keep a job because of her handicap There was always somebody that would replace her A lot of people saw my mother as a victim. She was a white woman in 112th Street and Lennox Avenue in all black community So as a child I grew up on 112th Street in Lennox Avenue in all black community. So as a child, I grew up protecting my mother. So I never really, I felt like in hindsight, I didn't really have an opportunity to be a child. I had to grow up and be a man early in my life in order to be able to protect my mother. And a lot of people didn't even know that I could hear. So there were times where I would be standing there with my mother and people would just be making all type of random comments and just disrespectful, just hateful stuff and I would sit there as a kid just kinda like looking up like, dude I can like hit you. [15:01] So I think my life took a significant turn and when I was in the fifth grade, I was always pretty smart, but, you know, as being smart and growing up in these neighborhoods, you know, the school systems are not really equipped to handle the number of children that's coming through. So you had one teacher like 30 kids and me just being who I was I was always pretty smart and when I was finished with my work I was kind of just clown around. I had this teacher in the fifth grade my math teacher and what he would do was he when you acted out in the classroom he would call you to the front of the classroom you had a stack of rulers. Today he would be arrested back then but it was back then it was permissible. It was considered as you know just punishing kids and he would call you to the front of the classroom. He would make you stick out your hand and he would put salt. He had a big salt shaker that he kept on his desk and he was sprinkled salt in your palm and he would smack the ruler into your hand and the salt would kind of [16:02] embed itself into your palm and would kind of have like a little burn sensation. So one day I decided that I was tired of it. And he called me to the front of the classroom and I put my hand out and when he swung, I moved my hand. And he almost fell over. He chased me around the classroom. I ran out to the hallway. He chased me into the hallway. I grabbed the fire extinguisher off the wall and I sprayed them until we fell. That was my reaction too. I was like, he was cursing and, oh, man. But long story short, I sat in the back of the police car for three hours as they determined my fate as a tenio. Put me in handcuffs and everything. And I had a counselor at that time. And I guess she convinced them to send me to a hospital. So they sent me to Mount Sinai Hospital, psychiatric unit. And I remember them sticking me with a needle, a dorsi, a tenio kid, man. Just, you know, just, [17:01] Jesus Christ. In a stray jacket being escorted to a hospital, they stick me with a needle. And so for months from Mount Sinai went to Metropolitan and I attempted to escape from Metropolitan and they sent me to a more secure area. What's Metropolitan or Metropolitan Hospital? So, so, so, so. So, why did they send you to a psych ward for that? I guess they, they, you to a psych ward for that? I guess they they you know I was considered as a young black kid who's out of control with behavioral issues and you know I'm not sure exactly the gist of the conversation that took place but From what I've gathered now and the future is that my mother felt that She would rather see me in a hospital than to see me in a jail because it was either that or they told her that they were gonna send me to Sparfield. So I went through that just being a subject to just a whole bunch of different medications. Melorell, Howl door lithium, cold jet in, and then they transferred me to Pleasantville. From Pleasantville, I went to Hawthorn. [18:05] And I'm gonna be honest, this is where I learned how to become a criminal. Because prior to that, I was just a kid. They put me in this place where I was around older kids and these kids were really like about that life. There was stuff that was really bad stuff happening. If you look up Hawthorn's seat and nose to this day, it's been closed for allegations of sex trafficking and child abuse. Just so because we know it because we're from New York, but those are juvenile- They're like group homes, yeah, they like juvenile detention facilities. So they consider me as a person, they put what they call the pin on you and it's a person of interest, a person in need of assistance. And they put you in these places and they just kind of just leave you there So I finally got out of there. I went to a lot there. I was molested by a counselor um And I finally escaped from there and [19:01] I just went back into the streets at 13 years old and I just was offendeded for myself. I was out in so it was three years of that three years of that For one instance for a gastronomy hit you with a fucking ruler. Yes Wow And you know I always look back and I see that as a trajectory in my life that just look back and I see that as a trajectory in my life that just changed everything. I went from, you know, it changed me as a person. I lost my innocence. I felt like after I left that place, I was a darker person because of the things that I saw and the things that I went to. So I come back and we're talking about this is 1988 crack at a Harlem. You know, you got kids 13, 14 years old, making a thousand dollars every two, three days, selling drugs, looking out on the corners. This was like real stuff. You see New Jack City, New Jack City was for real bad people who grew up after [20:02] that do not understand pre-crack and post-crack. Oh yeah. It was wild. Devastated my community. It was wild. And how the fuck did that happen? Like how the fuck did that happen? When you go through the whole story of it, I mean come on man. I had freeway Ricky Ross on here twice. We just said it. So last night we were talking about this and we were talking about like, what do we want to accomplish today? And last night when we were talking, he's like, well you know the CIA brought crack into, I said you might want to stay away from that, but here we are The fuck out of staying away from that man. My friend Michael Rupert, Reston Peace He was the guy who stood in front of the city council on television and exposed that he was a former Los Angeles narcotics officer And he said I personally witnessed the CIA selling drugs in [21:08] I personally witnessed the CIA selling drugs in the inner cities of Los Angeles. And that was the freeway rickie Ross situation where they were using that money to fund the Contras versus the Centinistas in Nicaragua. It's really not as crazy because last night, Sheldon's telling me about it. And I spent a long night into the early morning hours reading some of what you told me to read. It's really not, it's really not in dispute that it happened. Not in dispute at all. And what was, what, what, well, I'm gonna let Sheldon tell, what blew me away about it was that not only was it known how addictive it was, it was also known how easy it was to reproduce the process. And how much cheaper it became. Yeah, not only that, the difference is in sentencing. The difference is sentencing. That's the wildest thing. One to five is like a... One to five ratio. [22:00] Yeah. And then you had the Nelson, the Rockefeller drug laws that came into effect that required mandatory minimums and et cetera, et cetera. So when we talk about social conditions and we talk about situations that were created for the purpose of what, you know, you separated families. You had mothers who, and really grandmothers who had to take care of the children because The mothers were in the street smoking crack and the fathers were either in the streets using drugs selling drugs or in prison With astronomical sentences and removed from the family structure and totality Because of these conditions. So now you have the child just kind of left to fend for herself. And we're not even talking about the children who were born that were subject to mothers who, you know, the crack baby, right? Yeah. And that's just, I mean, a list just goes on and on when we talk about social conditions. [23:01] And we talk about the long term effects of These conditions and how it produces behavior like Ivan Pavlov one of my favorite psychologists He talks about stimulus and a response right a classical condition, and so you introduce the The stimulus and then you have a response which is equals to the condition that we see and um and you're also talking about what we were talking about earlier. You're still dealing with these communities that are still suffering from segregation, Jim Crowley. And then they throw crack in it, like just gas a lean on a fire. It's crazy because we've had this conversation in the abstract. We've had this conversation about this very subject. And then the more I got to know Sheldon in his story, I said, well, here was someone that not only lived it and I want to make clear. One thing that has always struck me about Sheldon is his vulnerability but also his honesty. [24:02] He's like, I hope he the first to tell you out of the gate. I did it. I could have made better choices. He's not asking for a pass based on his conditions. What he's always said to me was, I just want people to consider how it may have impacted me. So, and to me, you just can't ignore it. It doesn't say, well, poor Sheldon, I think that because I guess, you know, I know him the human being. So I like, I trip out when people were like, anybody that murderers or robs or does it lock them up and throw away the key. I always feel like, well, look, why don't you explain to me how you have gotten to know somebody that has been brought up in different conditions than you were. How long have you sat and listened [25:01] to them? How long have you considered how that might have impacted them and compared it to the conditions you grew up in? How many people like him have you gotten to know? So again, I'm trying to walk a fine line between sounding preachy and just saying let's just consider the circumstances in which he was born were both 48. I don't wanna get into, you know, my family, you know, struggled financially, but had different opportunities. My mom was a schoolteacher. My dad was a knock-around Brooklyn guy that did what he could do to, you know, provide for his family and wasn't always great at it, but he was a wonderful man. But I can't ignore that I had different opportunities Than Sheldon did so when he gets out and then he arrives back on the street You know, I don't think anyone's gonna argue with the fact that you're impacted and molded [26:01] From 10 to 13 and forward, 13 to 18 by the people you're around. What are the conditions you're born in? Yeah, and I never even went back to school after that. So I'm talking about after the fifth grade, I went back to school maybe four weeks when I was 17. So I'm watching over in high school. I went to school four weeks and I just dropped back out. I just saw no purpose in going to school. And I really didn't go back to school and really educate myself until I went to prison. Today I'm pursuing a Master's in Human Services. Before we get to your master's, why don't you explain to you get back at 13? So I get back into my community at 13 and I'm just kinda of not only am I not only am I like trying to wean myself from all of the narcotics that have been pumped into me for these last three years I'm talking about I gained so much weight I went from a slim kid to being fat because of the medications that they was giving. So what [27:02] are they giving you from they were giving me how-door, lithium, thorazine, milleril, another medication called Cogitin. Those are the ones that I'm aware of. And I'm talking about I was just like heavily sedated. Just, and that's what they do to all the kids. And that's what they did to most of the kids. They just wanna keep them calm and quiet. Just keep them calm and quiet. Keep them calm and quiet. And are they giving you any counseling when you're in there? Are they done? It's superficial. It's not really. It's not. You know, you got a bunch of kids who sit around in a group and you know, they do a feeling check, but the council is really the council, as far as obviously seeing the counselors didn't really care, because they were so much going, the counselors was just there for a check. They were so much going on that was above and beyond what the counselors could control. It was just ridiculous. You had the kids going down into white planes, breaking in the cars, still getting high, [28:02] going across the campus, having sex with the girls, it was just insane what was going on. And I learned how to become this person. I learned how to survive there. I learned what it meant to go and steal a benzibox. Remember the benziboxas? Well, you could snatch them right out the car, people used to hide them. I learned how to break into a car with the older guys in how to take a Benzie box and sell it. So I learned how to survive there. I mean, I've always known how to survive superficially. But from, I just feel like at that point, I was put into a place where instead of getting real therapy or real help, I was just kind of put into a place and I was like I was malleable. You know I was I was young. I was impressionable and this is what I was seeing. These became my role models. These were the guys that that I respected that I looked up to. They you know they were selling drugs. They [29:00] didn't have a care in the world. They had all of the girls and you know, ironically prison in my community was almost like a right of passage. Right in my community when you went to prison and you came back and you didn't you didn't tell on nobody and you were able to hold it down. You know and and work got back to the streets that you you didn't get robbed or you know you didn't get pumped. People looked at you differently treated you differently. I remember when I was 15 years old. I wanted to go to Rikers Island so bad that I lied to the office. I got arrested for smoking. I got arrested for smoking weed. Weed is legal now. But back then like weed was a thing. Like if they saw you smoking weed that gave them justification to get out stop you take you down to the precinct run you for warrants and all kind of other stuff you sat in the bullpen for three or four days before you even got out. And I remember lying to the officer he said I hold you I said I'm 16 because I wanted to go to Rikers Island so that I could come back and be around the older guys and tell [30:02] them Hey listen I went and I still got my sneakers You know and and and and the girls and everybody just treated you different and it's really sad But that was a reality That I was faced with so I come back. I'm 13 and I'm going through this stuff my mother's still struggling She's on ssd with your social security for disability my father's in prison And it's just I just I started selling drugs God offer me an opportunity to be a lookout. He said listen kid. I just need you know I'm gonna give you 75 hours a day. I just need you to stand on that corner and when you see the police car just Yeah, oh shit. Oh shit. That was like a little thing And I would just stand in eventually. I just slowly moved up the ranks and I became this person that I feel like I was never meant to be. But because of the conditions and because of where I was at and because I what I saw what I was exposed to, um, made me into someone else. It turned me into into into [31:03] this person that I was never meant to be. And I just, you know, when you're in these, these, these, when you're in this melting pot of just insanity, you lose sense of what's permissible and what's not and what's impermissible, right? I'm committing crimes and it just doesn't even matter no more. I was never a guy that, you a guy to hurt any old people. My era, when you see old people come through, you help them with their bags and we have respect for our elders. That was something that was always taught to us. Now these kids, that's a whole another story. But yeah, I'm just, and I'm committing, and I'm getting arrested for little stupid crimes driving without a license standing on a corner Little smold petty drug cases And I'm just I'm just kind of just moving through my life with no purpose [32:01] But I'm providing for my family My mother doesn't you know at the end of month, we don't have to worry about just eating grits and cheese no more. You know, we can eat chicken and velvita shells and cheese. You know, and for some people that's significant, you know, I can buy a couch now. I can buy a real couch. That's comfortable. I can buy a TV for my mother. I can, you know, set up a cable to where she can watch HBO. All of these little small things that I wasn't able to do that she couldn't really do for herself after she paid the rent. Was significant and it made me feel like I had a purpose. It made me feel like a man when in all actuality, you know many of the values and the morals that I adopted growing up, which is so warped and so misplaced like Scarface the movie right you know you have this oh I don't work I don't break my balls in my word for nobody right you know and I remember one time a friend of mine he came to pick me up and he was on a run from the cops he had a warrant out for his arrest he had a car full of drugs and a car full of guns and because I [33:00] gave him my words I felt like I couldn't back out of the situation. Nothing bad happened, but it's just the idea of sometimes growing up and adopting these values and these morals. And you begin to take them on as part of your characteristics. And you just make you end up making really, really bad decisions that can cause you for the rest of your life, like my son. Like when my son, when he got into a fight with an aging guy, they called them the Columbia Law Student Killer, right? He gets into a fight with this Chinese guy and this is not to take away anything from that man's family and you know as a man, as his father, I felt some type of way. But the guy goes into the street and gets hit by a car and he dies. But this is how fast your life can change from just one simple mistake, from one mistake. And I just feel like, you know, a lot of times these conditions are created and there's really no, there's no alternatives. I had never been on a plane. Like I said, I never even thought about going on a plane. [34:09] So I'm growing up in this community. My father's gone. My mother's, you know, she's deaf. I ended up having the son. My son was born in 1993. And that just made things, that's just exacerbated the issue right so now I'm really You know, what am I gonna do now? You know, I have a son I have someone to look at and then despite how many times I said that I was never gonna be who my father was My actions were actually setting me up to be exactly who my father was and remove me from my son's life um and in 19 I caught the gun charge that triggered the felony that allowed them to be able to sentence me the way that they did in 1994. I also caught another case. [35:01] At that time, I was what you call giving out consignment on drugs. Two people in particular, I gave consignment to and I ended up getting arrested for a case. And when I sent someone to go pick up the money from them, they kind of just was like, you know, whatever. I'm not paying them. So when I came home, one guy in in particular I ran into him with his girlfriend. He'll get that case got dismissed, right the gun charge No, the one that you were away for You got arrested for something you're in jail. Yes, these guys figure since you're in jail Fuck it. We're not gonna pay him. Yeah, I'm not gonna pay. And then the case that you were arrested for got to Smith. Got to Smith. I got to then you come home. So I come home and you know, I need my money. I need my money. I'm just just me being honest, it's just misbearing straight. You know, I gave you something [36:01] and we had an understanding that you were gonna pay me. And when I came home, when I finally located this particular individual, he had his girlfriend with him. And this guy opened me $5,000 for some drugs that I gave him, won't consign me. I gave him an eighth of a kilo, which is 125 grams of cocaine. And when I saw him, he had a bunch of jewelry on. He was with his girlfriend. he had a bunch of jewelry on. He was with his girlfriend. She had a bunch of jewelry on. I said, hey man. Where's my money at? Oh, y'all, I was gonna pay you. As far as I was concerned, his jewelry was, we was even. So I robbed him. And I took his jewelry. And his girlfriend happened to be there and unfortunately she got caught up in the situation. I had a bunch of young guys with me and they robbed her as well and he got hit in the head with the gun right here on side of his head and he got two stitches and they gave me 25 years for that case. [37:04] Did you hit him in the head? No. One of the guys that I was with hit him in head. And he identified me in a photo array. Unbeknownst to me, he identified me in a photo array. This guy, as far as I was concerned, he was in the streets just like I was. So I didn't really understand that you know Like I said we go back to morals and values and principles and how warp they can be right and my mind at the time This is a guy who I gave something to he's living in illegal life. I'm living in illegal life so As far as I was concerned at that time of his fair game and game. And hindsight, as I moved on and I became more mature and I began to reevaluate myself, I realized how wrong that was. But that was later on. At this time, I committed the crime and I just kept moving. Another guy that I ran into, he also owed me some money. He owed me $7,000 and it kinda went along the same ways. [38:03] He was selling drugs out of an auto-part store. He was a Spanish guy. I got word that this is where he was at and he was selling drugs and I was going to get my money. And the same circumstance is kind of ensued. So I'm, hey, what's going on? Reading in between the lines and outside the margins without really going into all of the details, I robbed him Because he owed me $7,000 Did he get physically hurt? No, he didn't get touched I roughed up a little bit, but there was no physical. There was no physical harm Nothing Going back to morals and values and principles, right? In my mind, he was very gay. He's selling drugs. I'm selling drugs. You owe me money. I came to take what you have. In that world, that was considered as permissible. These are one of the rules of something that was permissible. [39:01] In that world, long story short, and December 1997, I get arrested for both cases, really for one of them, for the one with the guy and the girl. And then the other case drops with the auto-pastor, the guy that I said there was some drugs out at the auto-pastor. I am in the process of going to court. I'm going back and forth to court. I'm on right because I went at the time. It's just crazy on right because I went. That's when the gangs was involved. Prior to that a year before that I had to go out and involved with the gangs. I was blood. I was a gang member. This was where the cut comes from on my face. I have a bunch of stab wounds from just being in those environments and being on Rikers Island and just worrying with other rival gangs mostly Latin kings and then yet does. My final [40:02] offer before trial was 23 years Which kind of blew me away because my lawyer kept telling me that my maximum sentence was 25 years if I went to trial So in my mind, I it just didn't make no sense to me. Why would I forfeit my rights to an appeal if There's only a two-year difference I told the judge I would take 15 years right now I I told the judge, I would take 15 years right now. I acknowledged that I had made some mistakes and I had done some things that were wrong. And I said, I'll take 15 years right now. He refused to accept my plea offer and I went to trial and then I ended up getting 50 years. 5-0. So they give you 25 for each case? Is that right? 25 for each case. 50 years 5.0 and So they give you 25 for each case is a 25 for each case consecutive So and I remember um I Remember like blonde trial and just not really understanding like what was [41:04] Being there, but not like it was like almost surreal and I remember when I went and got sentenced and the judge said 50 years now my you I had a black lawyer a black judge and a white prosecutor and I remember when he said 50 years. He said, he went into all of these reasons why he was sentencing me the way that he was sentencing me. There was never no post, there was never no, they're supposed to do a report prior to your sentencing and it's called a post supervision interview. Presentencing investigation is called a PSI, presentencing investigation. There was never no presentencing investigation. There was never no mitigating evidence presented on my behalf to, you know, highlight why I made some of the decisions that I made. And he just called me a minister's society and he just gave me 50 years. [42:04] And I remember when I first got the downstate, which is a processing facility, and they give you what they call is a time computation sheet. And on the time computation sheet, it gives you all of the numbers, like the beginning of your bid, how much jail time you have. And I just remember 2049, that's all I kept looking at. And I was remember 2049, that's all I kept looking at. And I was like 2049. Are they fucking serious? This is 1998, 1999. And I'm trying to do the math and I'm just like 2049. I'm like, that's 50 years from now. And I remember going to the Lord library and I forget how I get the world all in that. And something just says, look up life expectancy. And I look up my life expectancy. And as an African American man, my life expectancy at that time was 67 years [43:01] old. I did the math. And I said, I'm going to die in prison, man. I did the math and I said, I'm going to die in prison. I just really believed that I was going to die in prison. One thing I learned really, really quickly when I got to prison was that prison does two things to you. It brings out the best or brings out the worst. And what I saw was, I saw individuals who were at their worst and I saw guys who were at their best. The guys who were at their best were guys who were involved in education, post-secondary education programs. They were running the program, they was running the violence groups, they were running the substance abuse groups. And I remember saying to myself, I want that. And I remember just being involved in so much pull shit because I was in a gang. I was top of the food chain. I had my own nation. I wasn't just like the random gang member. [44:02] I had a whole nation under me. And I was just in and out the box, in and out the box, solitary confinement, which has been considered as unconstitutional now. And I remember just having these moments of reflection and just asking myself, like, what are you going to do? Can you spend the next 48 years living like this? I said I couldn't do it. And I had lost all my privileges. They took everything from me. I was in Southport at the time, which is closed now. It's a solitary confinement facility in New York State. And I was on a loaf, which is also unconstitutional now. So the loaf is a dietary restriction that they give you. It's a chunk of bread and it has cabbage and carrots in it and they give you like a quarter of a cabbage and they give you a cup of milk. When they can't take any more of your privileges, this is what they would give you. [45:03] Six days out the week on the seventh day you would get a hot meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then it would go back for 21 days. They would do the six and one, six and one, six and one. And it was at that moment where I really said I have to change my life. I have to change my life. I just can't do this. I had a wife. I had family still. my son was growing up. He was hearing stories about my so-called notoriety and I just didn't want to be that that. Like I really was looking at myself and really evaluating asking myself like, oh, what the fuck are you doing? I was still I was smoking a lot of weed at the time. I was drinking jailhouse hooch And I was at my worst And I had to really I had to figure out how to get to my best. So I decided to, when I got out of solitary confinement, [46:07] I did 42 days on a loaf. I went from two being 210 pounds to white 168, in like a matter of seven months, deflated me. And when I got out, I made a decision that I was gonna walk away. And I didn't care about what the consequences was. And I said to myself, I've going to walk away and I didn't care about what the consequences was and I said to myself I've been doing bad for so long. I'm going to try to do something good If all else fails I could always go back to doing bad But let me try let me give it a shot And I ended up getting to school program. I got my GD I left the gangs alone which was a benefit for them because you know I was what you called an authoritarian I was a rule guy I'm still a rule guy I like rules you know I like rules I like structure I like things to be a certain way and it was to the advantage to get rid of me anyway plus I knew a lot of the guys who were at the top. I was it to their advantage yet really because I was the type of person who was saying [47:10] You doing that for what reason now you can't do that the rules says that you can't do this you can't do this This is the rules say and I was the rules of the prison or the rules of the gang the rules of the street Yeah, there was rules Give us a for instance Okay, so for instance Those are the things the rules of the street. Yeah, there was rules. Give us a for instance. Okay, so for instance, I could be in a whole other facility. I say I'm in Green Haven and a guy's in Attica and they want to do something to him because they feel like he's not sharing his proceeds of drugs that he's bringing into the facility. The rules say you can't do that. That's his property. That's his belongings. So I was a rule guy and it was still there, Vanished to get me out of the way. So when I decided to take a step back, they were like, yes. [48:03] And it was still my advantage as well. And this was in 2005. So there was no resistance. None. And at that time, this is where a lot of the, what they call set trip and began. The organization began to implode on itself. The gang organization. The gang organization. There was a lot of end fighting sets against sets and I was just always against that. And it was time for me to go and I didn't care whatever the consequences was. I was fortunate that there weren't any consequences but I didn't care what the consequences was. I just walked away. And then that begins your journey. This begins my journey. I got into school. I got my GED. From there I got involved in correspondence courses. I started interacting with guys who were teaching ART aggression replacement training. And I started to begin to understand [49:00] how these concepts work. What's positive visualization is. Deep breathing, how to remove yourself. in how these concepts works, what's positive visualization is, deep breathing, how to remove yourself, conflict resolution, all of these ideas of change began to take place with me. Substance abuse, I stopped smoking weed, I stopped smoking cigarettes. I was smoking like 30 cigarettes a day. I mean, I'm literally having chest pains from smoking cigarettes. And I realized that I wanted to live. And the only way that I was going to be able to live and walk out of prison was to remove myself from these substances. I had seen so many guys get carried out. I seen guys dying. Not just from just being stabbed or with altercations from officers. I seen guys dying from one guy I knew he used to drink so much who whose his his liver failed on one night. He died in the cell that night. The morning when they came to do that count, he was frozen. He was stiff as a log. But these are the things that I was seeing. And I really [50:03] I was really in a situation where I had to ask myself do I want to go out like that? And I didn't want to go out like that. Tell me about jailhouse, how are they making that? So there's a bunch of ways they could make it. You could use fruit juice, but a lot of guys use tomato paste. Tomato paste, water and sugar. You need a kicker, which is like a what they call a um Like a mash You would call it a match they call it a kicker get a plastic bag you put it in a plastic bag You let it blow up it goes through the process the carbon dioxide process. I did the whole I did a whole paper on the process, the carbon dioxide process. I did the whole paper on ethanol when I was in Cornell so that I could learn how the process was. And it's pretty good stuff, especially if you distill it. But it's bad for you because it has a component in it called methane, and it goes straight to your brain. [51:03] But in the streets, when distillation of places or facilities, they distill it, they remove that part of the alcohol, the methane, but in prison, guys just drink it. It's just like, you know, give it fuck. Or you make the fruit juice. Same thing, plastic bag, sugar, kicker mash. What is the kicker? The kicker is to accelerate the process. I know, but what is it consistent? Usually like spoiled fruit, some spoiled bread, with mold on it, because it begins the process of fermentation. It's like a mash. So this shit's gonna be super toxic for it. Oh, super fucking hot. Uses drop are like flies. Oh, like flies. Here's the, uh, when you when you hear, like going forward, what? How she'll then change his life? And, um, [52:05] And not just the correspondence courses, but all of these various counseling programs, outreach programs, his connections to the outside world, which he'll talk about, is that the impossibly sick, fucking twisted in horrifically sad irony to all of this is that it took prison to save him And why couldn't he be saved as a kid? That's what I am really trying to sort of put energy towards now. When you asked him earlier, wasn't there counseling in the group home? [53:02] And you know, if you see what this counseling is like, obviously, I can't cast aspersions on every counselor in a group home across America. But you know, I've had people on, you know, the podcast with me and I'm listening to their anger management classes. Right? I won't mention who it is, but I'm listening to like the anger management class that they take and It's fucking it's on zoom It's run by a guy that can't fucking turn his camera on and it's like It is It's it's Bedlam. There's just people screaming, hey man, I can't, I can't hear you. What the fuck did you just say? What are you here not just the anger and the frustration but the guy's inability to control the situation, to control the technology, let alone giving out, you know, [54:03] real advice and constructive feedback on how different people are. He's checking a box this guy to do a job. Is that happening with everyone? It's not happening with everyone, but again, just the paradox here is that this insane inhumane sentence actually saved Sheldon. But why aren't there those programs that thought that implementation in his community to save him as a kid? Right. And i don't just take cases you know the pro-mother center uh... we're on the executive director the pro-mother senator for legal justice at cardosa law school we get a massive amount of mail uh... and we get a lot of people calling us to help out on cases [55:01] i want to help as many people as we can, but people that I think can succeed, or that we could help succeed when they get out. And on paper, you can see pretty quickly what somebody has done with their time. You know, I've sat with people in institutions all over the country where I say what programs are you in and I feel like an idiot asking Because I'd be a fucking puddle on the floor if I asked him many times How often did you cry? How did you extract yourself from the gang? How did you sleep at night with the noise? Sheldon told me about this thing called a human harpoon that people make at a magazine and a sharpened toothbrush. Like, can you, can you fucking the mind fuck on this? You're, they, they stiffen [56:04] the pages of a magazine with toothpaste, soap, water, let it dry, let it dry so that they could basically work it into a rod. You keep on working the paper between your hands and then you attach with soap, newspaper, a sharpened toothbrush Handle or bone or what or bone or a bone From something that they ate and the mess on it's a That's all and then you're walking past their cell and you're All of a sudden you get fucking stabbed with a parpoon. So I'm thinking Or through or have feces thrown on you. So I'm trying to like process all of a sudden you get fucking stabbed with a parpoon. So I'm thinking or Fisi's throwing on you. So I'm trying to like process all of that Um, and to be able to navigate that hell and [57:10] Come out to this half way halfway sane and and I'm just I I'm you know, I'm you know, it hurts me deep in my fucking guts to hear that I'm hearing you talk and then I'm thinking this is what it took to save you. When I think about, you know, he was 10 years old, my son's 11, and that it's hard to listen to. And yeah, it's hard to process that you were able to have that wear with all to sit a day in solitary confinement, let alone 42 days. And so your process, when you decide that you're gonna try to do good. Like how difficult was the process of trying to establish an education? It was lonely. I had, you know, one side I had the guys who I used to run with saying, the fuck is he doing? [58:02] And then I had the guys who were actually doing good, just watching me to see if I was going to crumble or fail. Or you know, you had a handful of guys that committed to being said, y'all applaud you, you know, I got you, man, if you need some help, I can help you do this or I can help you do that. But you know, I just, I felt like everybody, the world was watching, including my family. Because they didn't believe it. Up until the point where I graduated from Cornell, my cousin told me, she said, she said, you know, when you called me and invited me to the graduation, she said, I didn't believe it. I didn't believe nothing you had told me, probably for the last 10 years, anything that you you said you did until I saw you at that graduation. So you know I had family, I had everybody just kind of just waiting for me to fail. But I just felt like I was just determined to succeed. I just had this I just had this this energy in my spirit and I just [59:04] and it was the it was the it was the will to live. As far as I'm concerned, it was the will to live. I had read, when I was in solitary confinement, I read Victor Frankles, our man search for meaning, and one of the things that struck me as being so powerful, he says, if you have a why, then you have a reason to live. And this is a guy who was in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. And he found a reason to live. He found a reason. And I'm sitting there in the cell and I'm asking myself, do you have a fucking reason to live? And then I think about my family and that was my reason. And I wanted to beat the system. And that was my way of beating the system. I'm not going to let you motherfuckers kill me. [1:00:03] And that was my spirit. And I know it was only one way for me to accomplish that. So like I said, I started going to school at the Correspondence courses. I got involved in the Cornell Prison Education Program. I obtained my associate's degree and then I went on to obtain my bachelor's in behavioral science for mercy. But in this process, I'm going through, I'm mentoring other young men. Now guys are looking at me and saying, oh Lord, wait a minute man, this guy is onto something. I got guys on both sides now saying, oh, can you help me? I started working in the law library. I discovered that I had a knack for complicated things, case law, and I was helping guys, and I was actually helping guys get out of prison. And I started running the programs. And I think that's something. [1:01:00] What programs did you start? I ran a aggression replacement training. And how many years in,, do you start doing this? Um, about nine years in, eight years in. I had arrested in 1997 and about 2005. This is when I started to make my transitions. About eight years in. And it felt good. It felt good. It felt good to be able to call my family and send them pictures and invite them to these events so they can actually see me change. They can see actual tangible change. It felt good to for the guys that I knew that were coming to me and asking me for help. I was helping guys with the GEDs. I became a two-day-in-a-program. And the rewards that I felt, you know, it didn't even matter [1:02:02] anymore about when I was gonna to get out, right? It was just now about how can I help other people not go through what I went through and wait so long because I feel like I wish I had somebody that would have came along at a earliest age and like he said, don't wait till I fall, catch me before I fall. And that's part of my motto now is some of the work that we do. But don't wait till I fall, catch me before I fall. And that's part of my motto now is some of the work that we do at the Queen's Defenders, the alternatives to incarceration. And this is why I'm so passionate about a lot of the work that I do now. I'm trying to catch these kids before they fall. I don't want to wait till they fall falling. And I want to show them the way. And I feel like I'm a credible messenger because when they see me, they know that I came from the same place they come from, like Josh was saying earlier, right? There's a difference between being qualified and certified, right? [1:03:00] You could read 100 hundred books about drug drug abuse But how Qualified are you to really tell somebody who's sick on heroin and they're ready to do anything that they can for a bad Adote of what you went through you can't and this this experience is is priceless You said it way better than I did Certified versus qualified. And that's why, you know, I'm just sitting back watching the work that Sheldon is doing now. What's your official title at the Queen's Defenders? Client advocate and we just created the Yelp. We titled it Yelp, Me and two other brothers that I was incarcerated with, formerly Bruce Bryant, and Rashad Rouhani. With client advocates, we run a youth emergent leadership program, and we work directly with the district attorneys and the judges at the courts, dealing [1:04:03] with the alternative to incarceration program, a lot of the young kids that catch the gun charges. We bring them into our program. We help them with job readiness training, whether it's OSHA training. We help them get their GEDs. We direct them to different programs like we got a program called Hood Coding. And this is also a guy who's previously incarcerated. And he teaches coding. He teaches coding to younger kids inside the inner cities and the projects like coding as in computer code. He teaches coding and we get them into our program. We help them with their resume because one of the main things we realize is that outside of everything else a lot of these kids they they're impoverished. They don't have nothing. So we want to be able to try to help them with some type of employment, right? That's number one. And then we take them through our program. We have a 36-week 10-point program. It deals with conflict resolution. [1:05:00] It deals with knowing your rights. How to have a conversation with an with officer one of the things that I That I take pride in while I was in cost rate. I was also in the theater program I played Mcbeth on a stage I also was on the debate team we debated against Stanford Harvard and Yale on the topic of the future of automation and we crushed them. But one of the things I learned in those in those arenas is critical thinking and critical analysis, right? How do you critically think about a situation and also looking back, I realized something about myself is that I did not have a term that I coined called situational cognizance, right? As a kid, for some reason, I felt like I was not able to see the long term consequences of my behavior. It was like a wall there. And I think a lot of these younger kids are also suffering [1:06:00] from the same thing. They don't. And the system sets you up to the system tricks you because you catch these cases and what they do is they slap you on a wrist, right? You catch this gun charge and they say, oh no, we're just going to give you six months. Don't worry about it. Well, if they don't tell you is that gun charge is a pretext now to enhance your sentence when you catch another case. So it's almost like a form of entrapment, right? And a lot of these kids don't understand that. They think that these cases that they're catching are just going to disappear. They don't realize that there's a paper trail being established as being created. There's a profile being created against you. And when you reach a certain threshold, there's a term that I like to say, they're gonna not give fucking head off. And you're going to find yourself, a lot of these kids find themselves in situations where they get 25 years for an assault. You remember a scared straight? Yeah. All right. [1:07:02] I think the effectiveness of scared straight was because of the messenger. So you're seeing the change right now. And this is not meant to blow sunshine up your ass because you get plenty of that and you deserve it. But it's still, I was in like a situation last time I was here where I felt a little bit hopeless and now I'm more, I felt a little bit hopeless and now I'm more I'm trending toward more hopeful because Bruce Bryan who was on the show is a client advocate at the Queen's defenders and I don't wear that as a feather of my cap. That was just me. It was validation that if I get behind this man and give him new life, do my part in it. Lord knows there were other Steve Ziedman Acuni Law School. And if it wasn't for, you know, I know what I'm honesty. [1:08:00] I'm, I'm, I'm adamant about to this day. If it wasn't for Josh and Allison hawk actually going to And Derek as well Derek Hamilton speaking to the district attorney like we were at a plateau where they just Didn't they just was like now, but but I don't want it to be about me at all Here's what I wanted to say is that you now are seeing the connections and so You know that you now are seeing the connections. So legal aid was representing Bruce. There was an army of people that all believed that he could make change happen and do positive things when he got out. So now he's a client advocate of the Queen's Defenders doing this kind of work, trying to explain to judges, this person don't let them be another Sheldon Johnson. Don't let them be another me, or Derek Hamilton. They deserve counseling. They deserve a second chance. They deserve to help really be rehabilitated. [1:09:00] And then Sheldon comes over and starts working at the Queen's Defenders, which is like the appointed counsel for people that can't afford an attorney. They're criminal defense lawyers. So to watch them out there advocating and trying to change, you know, hearts and minds about the community, you have to be on the ground doing it and getting in front of people. And I know I said it before, look at that, you know, I'm very thoughtful in who I'd bring with me. Look at this beautiful mind and how he articulates himself and educated himself. And you want to tell me that this couldn't have happened earlier. He doesn't need anyone's sympathy and he's not asking for it. It's something I admire quite a bit about him. Whenever anybody, you know, he doesn't want poor children, [1:10:00] you know, how could you have gone through this? And he stops and I've seen him do it right in their tracks. Listen, I did, but I just don't know that my life was worth throwing away. But to watch them now on the other side of it, the change that we talked about, that I'm like, how do we change it? How do we do it? It's starting to happen. Could we use Jeff Bezos to sit down and think through how we can build a community center in East New York and Harlem? Yeah, we could. The means are out there to do it. All it takes is one person listening to this episode that tells someone, that knows someone, and then progress is starting to happen and we can just do it on the ground But the reason why I mentioned scared straight is because Sure, I could go in there and talk to these kids. They're not gonna fucking listen to me. It's just not I might be [1:11:02] Certified, but I'm not qualified. But I didn't, I can't sympathize, but I can't empathize. I go through that talking sometimes like, tough fighters that I manage, right? I do, well, she, of course, Stevenson, he's like a little brother to me. I love him. Sometimes I feel like he, you know, the message might be better coming from J. Prince than it is for me because he's more qualified. I try to wrap my head around what Shakur went through as a kid and grown up in Newark and the circumstance, but you know, I think that there is a disconnect and I have to be big enough to recognize that and say, yeah, maybe I'm not the right person, but you tell me he's not gonna inspire, and they're doing it. They're getting judges to change their mind. They're getting prosecutors to think twice. [1:12:01] We just got one guy. He shot at his brother without going into the details of his case. He has attempted murder charge. And we now have him on our program. They originally were talking about giving him 15 years. He's been in our program for a couple of months. We set him up. We helped him get his resume. He's working towards his GED and he's in the hood coding program we also have him in an aggression replacement training program and now the district attorney is considering giving him five years probation so they went from 15 years and his kid is doing amazing like he's just picking up the coatings. The guy that I spoke to, he said that this kid is just, it's like a sponge. He's just soaking it up so fast. But this is just one example of how we kind of level the playing field and create opportunities. I think that key you spoke, that word you spoke about earlier is so crucial to the context of this conversation, [1:13:07] opportunities, right? How do we create the opportunities for these kids to be able to provide living in New York City, ain't no joke, man. Of course the living is ridiculous. So how do we create these opportunities? So now also what we're doing, we go into the schools, we talk to the teachers. We talk to the teachers and the principals and we asking them, we're not even going to wait till you get to the courtroom. We're asking the teachers and the principals who in your classroom do you think needs help? Which kids in your classroom are the most giving you the most trouble? And they give us the names and we go and we talk to them And we try we're getting them involved in our program But it's all about opportunity And well kids sometimes need to see someone not not sometimes always Need to see someone who's done something from a similar situation. Yeah, where they realize like there's a path out of this [1:14:04] Yeah, because if you don there's a path out of this. Yeah. Because if you don't see a path out of this, you just see a path towards doing what the other people in your environment are doing. And that's how all human beings react. If you're in a bad environment with a bad group of human beings, the chances of you going down that same path are extraordinary. I don't behave you. Yes. And from someone like you, they can see this is not a given. There's a way to do this. There's a way to get out of this and there's a guy who's already gone the wrong way who could say, you know what? I figured it out and I'm going to help you. And we're different from someone like you saying it versus some uninspired counselor. like you saying it versus some uninspired counselor is massive. It's massive. It speaks to you and your character that you want to do this, that you've dedicated yourself to doing this. That's where real change comes from. That's where real help comes from. Real help comes from someone, as you said, who's qualified to do it? Comes from the same place that you [1:15:03] came from, that you can identify because I being able to identify is a critical component. Like you said, this is someone who can identify, empathize with what I'm going to do when I'm at right now in my life. Like a lot of the young kids, they're involved in the gangs. And we have this reculturalization program, right? Where we are trying to teach them, because in many of our communities, the gangs have become a part of the culture. Like you have parents who are gang members. You got the kids who are in communities, and it's just saturated with gang culture, language, dress, music, food, everything else. So we try to extract them out of these places and say okay this is something that you can do differently. We're taking [1:16:02] them to different places. We're taking them to HBCU so that they can see what people who look like them look like when they're going to college. This can be you. This is some of the taking them in the classrooms to meet with the professors. We have a financial literacy course where Chase Bank actually works with us and we teach them how to establish credit, how to open up a we teach them how to establish credit, how to open up a checking account, how to open up a savings account. And at the end of that particular five week program, we actually take them to the bank and we give them $25 so that they can open up their own bank account. So they can understand the difference between money that you obtain from the streets and the money that you get working legitimately is two different kinds of money. You can't appreciate the money that you get from the streets and the money that you get working legitimately is two different kinds of money. You can't appreciate the money that you get from the streets. But that money that you've been working all week for, eight hours a day, 40 hours a week at the end of the weekend, you can see that direct deposit when it goes into your account. You can take that card and you can actually utilize it [1:17:00] to withdraw your money out the bank. That's a big difference. Civic engagement, you know, how can some of these kids feel like they have a voice in their communities when they're not making no decisions in their communities? We go into the rallies, we take them to the rallies out of Albany yesterday they went to a rally last week, we went to a rally about treatment, not jails, how to set up what they call diversion courts for people who have substance abuse problems. Instead of sending them to prison, they need treatment. And the money that they save is clear. It's clear. When you do the math, the money that you say, it costs almost up to $70,000 to cost you right one person. But then there's the issue of privatized prisons. That's the same. That's disturbing. It's so disturbing. They're using human beings as batteries to generate money. That's what it's like. Yeah, we're trying to take the charge out of their battery. We're trying to pull the plug out of the wall because you know, [1:18:08] this is these aren't controversial statistics. And I'm not going to start spewing them, but we incarcerate at a rate that is dwarfs any other Western country. Any other civilized anywhere in the world, really. So in any event, I was doing a relative comparison. So how do we put those privatized prisons at a business? We have to start on the ground. And it's almost like a rallying cry to myself because we get a lot of, not a rallying cry to myself because we get a lot of, not a rallying cry to myself, but the way I got from being a little less intimidated by the mountain decline was taking a step back really after the last episode [1:19:01] and saying, well, what have we done and how have we changed things? Listen, I wasn't born a civil rights lawyer that was working on innocence cases. I have a trial strategy company called DRC. We do focus groups, mock trials on big cases, right? Try to unfold the thinking of jurors in a juror's addiction where the case is going to be tried, and we make demonstrative aids and we are alleged experts in jury selection. And that became a platform. I said, how can we use this as a platform now that I'm operating the pro-mother center as well? So just being in the boxing industry, speaking to the JZ's team at rock nation and JZ and his mom, how can we do this? And he has something called the Sean Carter Foundation. It's how remarkable it flies way under the radar. Have you ever heard of it? [1:20:00] Yes. All right. Do you know what it does? Not exactly. All right. So, it's kind of remarkable that people know it because of his name and they've heard it, but no one really knows what it does. They take children from, really from all over the country, a lot of them are in the Tri-State area that have difficult circumstances. A lot of them come from single-family households and they're not just mentoring them from high school, but they are trying to do some of the things that Sheldon talked about. They do a college tour. It's run by a woman named Daniel Diaz a college tour. It's run by a woman named Daniel Diaz and really Gloria Carter and a woman named Miss Archer. And I saw what they were doing. And I said, if we took these kids and created a fellowship program where we pay their last year of college and five of them do [1:21:02] it every summer and work on wrongful conviction cases that my consultant for them at DRC and also are a resource to my students who are taking an internship for the Pearl Mudder Center and are working on wrongful conviction cases and have them start a social media campaign. They spearheaded the free Bruce Bryant social media campaign. And watching this program, these kids, if they're given the opportunity, three of them now work for me full time. One of them is the male intake coordinator at the Pearl Mudder Center for Legal Justice. So she is receiving mail from inmates and helping screen which cases we might want to investigate. Her name is Samilia McFarlane. There's a girl that works at my firm doing advertising and publicity. Her name is Jala Madri. [1:22:00] She made a presentation to me the other day. I was fucking blown away. That this girl was passionate about marketing, not advertising, marketing. And she works at my consulting firm. And she made a presentation to me that had a level of detail and ideas about how we can become, increase our awareness. And I was just thinking to myself, you know, all right, so this is the change that we're making happen. And it was just an idea that I had. I didn't actually think that Jay Z and his mom and Daniel would go for it. So I was reluctant to pitch them the idea and just being able to say, well, what do you have to lose by, you know, putting it out there? And they have been remarkably supportive. So I think that like there's a lot of people that want help. You know, Sheldon and I were talking about it before we came and we all we often think like how can listeners help? There is not if you have an idea like I had just try to put the next foot in front of the foot that's behind you and [1:23:10] Just keep walking forward and don't be afraid to ask there is not a public defender's office in this country There is not a civic engagement Organization that if you call them and say I want to volunteer Or I'm interested in helping that will turn you away. You just have to say all right I could sit here and talk about it and you know until it happens to you right you know we talk about not to cut you off right no I need to cut it. I need to cut it. You talk about like the member of the opioid crisis, right? You know, it's been an opioid crisis in my community since I could remember people were dying off heroin. And it didn't become an issue until it was affecting white America, right? But my thing is had you dealt with it from the beginning, [1:24:04] it would have never became a situation later on. So it's this idea where people, we have a tendency to say, okay, I'm just gonna turn away and I'm not gonna pay attention to it. I'm gonna turn a blind eye. I'm gonna act like it doesn't exist until it hits home. And then sometime when it hits home, it's too late. Yeah, like, I think it takes like, something to happen to somebody for them to become an advocate, right? Michael J. Fox wasn't a Parkinson's advocate until it happened for but that's great that he decided to do remarkable but I think that a Sheldon makes a great point, right? Where a society that likes to sit back and complain. We want to react instead of responding. Like one of my favorite things to do is I have severe anxiety about dying. But for whatever reason, maybe this balances me out [1:25:07] at an airport when a flight gets canceled. Even if it's hopefully my flight, not hopefully, but I get a better view of it if it's my flight. To watch people stand up and get frustrated, berate, raise their voice at the fucking ticket attendant. It's a remarkable exercise and it's a social experiment, I think, that if people really were able to hover over the room and watch themselves, they'd be like, why am I yelling at the ticket attendant? There's only two real possible abilities of why this plane is not gonna fly on time. There's either a mechanical problem or weather. Do you wanna fly in either of those situations? [1:26:00] And to watch people just like, complain and they get, I don't know what they're getting out of it. But I just find myself trying to, A, B, or having awareness about myself not to do that. And rather than get intimidated by the problem, try to just keep putting one foot in front of another. And then when the flight gets canceled, maybe I could read something interesting and catch up. It's inconvenient or come up with an idea. I mean, trust me. I'm an average guy of average intelligence that just I think I have like more tenacity. So I don't, if I can help make some of this stuff happen, other people can make it happen. And I, I, I, she'll then ask me, should I go to law school before we came here? And I said, I can't, I, I changed my mind, by the way, I might have an opinion now. But I told them, like, most of the lawyers that I find that are most effective aren't the smartest. They're not the savviest. They possess something [1:27:10] that most lawyers don't, which is common sense and street smarts. And they marry that with what they learned in school. And they're able to sort of that perfect stew, I think is what leads to a successful advocate, counselor, attorney, whatever you are. And oftentimes there's so much of an emphasis placed on your grades and what scored it you get and how much of that really ends up fucking mattering at the end of the day. It matters. But does it matter to the degree to the degree we place an emphasis on it in our society? I'm not sure. But my whole thing is rather than like being intimidated by the problem, I think it's recognizing that it exists. just decide one discreet thing you want to do to try to help [1:28:07] make a change happen. And then, again, just try to get some forward momentum and you'd be surprised at the buy-in that you get. I think that that's why this platform is so important because it allows people to start sharing ideas, reaching out to us and we're taking them up on it. I've told you before we've been contacted by a major law firm, Greenberg Taurig, and a really awesome attorney that's working on the case of Pierre Rushing, this guy Jordan Grazinger, who's just thought he was a corporate attorney had nothing to do with this kind of work listen to the podcast he's a passionate passionate advocate uh... and and he's gonna get justice one of these days for peter russian we've tried to help apply pressure through the show by having people reach out to [1:29:01] the d a uh... and and write letters on his behalf. And it's, you know, has it worked yet? It's working. We're going to get there at some point. So you know, that's my objective. You know, we'll do it with continuing to do these stories. Because you're right. The privatization of prisons and the industrial prison complex, is that a solvable problem? I'm not sure. I think that it's too much of a giant to slay unless we start pulling the electrodes, not the neural-link electrodes, pulling the electrodes out of the sockets and taking energy out of it as much as we can until they're like, well, we don't have any fucking people. You begin sabotaging pieces of the machine, right? Because a lot of these corporations are what you call well oiled machines, right? [1:30:05] And it's like a watch, you open up a a watch you see so many intricate pieces right and if you sometimes if you break the right piece and the watch the whole mish the whole watch ceases to to keep time. And it's just, you know, it's just a poor excuse for, it's like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound, you know, for the government to allow these corporations to privatize and say, okay, okay, it's not our problem anymore. We're gonna pass the buck and let somebody else deal with it. Now you have these corporations who, they really don't, they really don't care about rights and humanity and cruel and unusual punishment and due process. They don't care about none of this stuff. Well, to allow it to exist in the first place, you have to ignore that people will be incentivized [1:31:00] like every other industry, like the pharmaceutical industry, like the military industrial complex, like everything else. Once they start acting as a corporation, which all corporations, it is in their best interest to try to maximize the amount of profits you make always, if they have shareholders, their responsibility to those shareholders to maximize profits with each quarter. Now, when that happens with human beings and prisons, you can bet your fucking sweet ass, they're gonna lock as many people up as they can. And we know for a fact that happen. We know for a fact that prison guard unions, they work hard to make sure that laws are not changed that will incarcerate people for petty drug offenses. Big business. Big business. Big business. Like, for example, I was supposed to go testify at a congressional sitting hearing on what they call slave wages, right? So you have this corporation, core craft. I don't know how familiar you are with core craft. [1:32:00] Is that when they use prisoners? Yes. Yes. And all Bernie make license plates and Clinton correctional facility, they make mattresses and t-shirts and underwears. I was just reading an article today about that. I was just reading an article today about food manufacturers that use prisoners to sell commercial food. Yeah. And they essentially work as slaves. That's quick, Jill. So you have a whole bunch of different entities under this one large umbrella, right? And I remember I was getting paid 17 cents an hour at one point in time 19 cents an hour and You know for operating these big machines and they were producing just like a mass amount of, a core graph is actually a fortune 500 corporation and a function they regulate out of the prison industrial complex. There it is. US prisons are part of a hidden workforce linked to hundreds of popular food brands. [1:33:01] Yeah. Farc. Frosted flakes, you know, so a lot of times we walk into the supermarket and we see these products and we don't realize like, you know, what's going into, you know, making these products like you hear about these slave shops in China and all of this stuff. And you know, people can't pay to say, oh well, we're not gonna support that. But what are you actually supporting here in your own country right now? I'm a no it's to you. I'm a no see you right? Yeah, and I mean that if you have a label on everything you buy, like this may contain harmful substances, this may be bad for your health. GMO. Why the fuck don't you have a label? This is made by prisoners. This is made by people making 13 cents an hour or whatever it is. Well, how do you not have that? Because wouldn't that change the way people would buy things? Well, and the most important... Look at this, including countries that... Okay, so the goods are... Prisoners produce wind up in the supply chains of a dizzying array of products found in most [1:34:03] American kitchens from frosted flake cereals, ballpark hot dogs, to gold metal flour, cocoa and rice land rice. They're on the shelves of virtually every supermarket in the country including crogr target, Aldi and whole foods. Some goods are exported, including the countries that have had products blocked from entering the U.S. for using forced or prison labor. Wow. 13 for memet. Yep. Exactly. Slavery and involuntary service to accept as punishment for a climate. And we go back to Jim Crow. That's what they did. Yes. When, at the emancipation proclamation, post-antiballum, you know, they created these laws to convict the freed slaves so that they can continue to force them into free labor. And it just continues today, like 13 hours, 17 hours, 19 hours, during the pandemic, great metals correctional facility. [1:35:02] Had these guys working 24 hours a day making hand sanitizers in mass. That place is the scariest fucking place. That place traumatized me. That place is like, it was one of the first prisons that I went to in New York State to visit with a potential client. And I almost peed down my leg. I mean, it looks like feels like is like what you saw in the Shawshank Redemption. Swarced in Attacle. Hey, check this out. What you're seeing on the screen is not some new thing. You know, speaking of the Shawshank Redemption, Stephen King writes a lot that is rooted. I'm not talking about Kujo. I'm not talking about Kujo. I'm not talking about his horror writing. His short stories, most of them are rooted in some sort of truth. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption was a short story that he wrote that ended up getting made. I think it was part of apt people or one [1:36:01] of his books of short stories. And you remember in the Shawshank Redemption, where they had this precise thing, where it was, they came up with this idea, the wording came up with an idea for a work program where they were profiting. That was true back then. He was basing that on something that was happening in the Northeast back then. So the notion that this is still happening, shouldn't be that shocking. It's just like, what is our news cycle pay attention to? You know, and you know, and how do you make sure that this kind of stuff doesn't keep happening? My idea is you need people on the ground that are working on policy and reform. So at the ProMutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardoza, we have a policy advisor, she's our name is Sarah Chu. Who knows forensics, she's a scientist and like one of the more respected, [1:37:02] in my mind the most respected reform advocate about how we stop using junk science like bite marks and blood splatter, blood splatter, ballistics, even fingerprints to some extent. And lobbying to make sure that laws get changed and it's like at the end of the day the scariest part about all of this is that the politicians that we poke fun at, I poke fun at everybody has a field day. These are the fucking people. These are the people that are sitting in some white fucking building. The prosecutors are the capital. And the prosecutors are the worst. And before you get to the prosecutors, these are the people writing the laws. These are the people writing the statutes. They need to be influenced by people like Sarah Chu, other great people that work in policy and reform advocate. There's a woman named Rebecca Brown. [1:38:02] Her and Sarah Chu both used to be at the innocence project. Sarah came to work with me. Rebecca Brown is a great one that are working boots on the ground and trying to change and educate really. I mean, how much does your local representative or a state senator really know about how dangerous it could be to draw conclusions about the directionality of how blood hits drywall versus how it hits loose site. How bite marks leaving an indentation on someone's skin. You could, I could qualify certified actually, And I could a qualified, certified, actually, strike qualified, a certified odontologist, totally, total horseshit could take one of these skulls and make the same case that the bite marks left on someone's leg came from this set of teeth, sheldon's teeth, your teeth, or my teeth, and convinced [1:39:08] four juries, four times, a hundred percent of the time. That's your guilty. That's your guilty. A skilled oedontologist could do that. So when when white marks were, you know, became subject of a report that everybody should read, the National Academy of Sciences did a report in two thousand nine that should have changed our criminal justice system it had the most who the most squalified certified scientists from all over the world study all of these disciplines of forensic uh... evidence all of these disciplines of forensic evidence. All of these disciplines of forensic science and come to the conclusions that none of them, none of them, were supported by scientifically credible body of evidence. There was no repeatability, there was no reliability, the scientific method that you learn [1:40:04] in grade school, you could apply it to any of them and they would all fail the test which ought to stand as for admissions that trial and it talks about It talks about the standards for admissions of trial the Dalbert's dinner the fry's dinner It's just is it credible in the scientific community and they come to a resounding no on everything except for DNA and DNA is still fraught on everything except for DNA. And DNA is still fraught right now because there are all these new technologies. I shake your hand this morning, and then I later pick up a knife and stab someone, and your DNA ends up on the knife. From the sweat on your hand. Yeah, because there is such sensitive, what they call low copy or touch DNA that can now be detective, that can now be detected. And the mixture can be untangled. And they can say, well, Joe Rogan's DNA is on the knife. Where was he at this time? There's a case of a guy named Emmanuel Fair in Seattle where he was implicated in a murder [1:41:02] because he was at a party on Halloween when this girl got murdered. He ended up getting, um, you know, sitting in prison for, I think, seven or eight years before he finally got acquitted. So this report should have turned forensic science on its head and no one gives a fuck. Bite mark evidence. Until it hits home. Well, bite mark evidence is still admissible in all 50 states So I mean, you know look we could sit I could sit and bang my head against the wall about it Or I could you know just keep on speaking up when you're in front of a judge How often sheldon do you hear from an attorney? Well, I don't want to piss off the judge all the time You're right. You're your absolute obligation when you're defending someone is to is to piss off the judge if they're not doing their job. You know, to to protect their rights, their constitutional rights. That's what the that's the constitution was designed for. And it's so interesting when you dig about the constitution, right? [1:42:03] And the founding fathers and the Bill of Rights and how it has just transferred over hundreds of years into today and how our rights are still fundamentally protected. But when we talk about, when we talk about rights, there's two different worlds. Like, his rights and my rights may be two different kinds of rights because of where we come from and because of the color of our skin unfortunately. I don't say prevention is worth a pound or cure and you constantly keep hitting on the fact that, you know, why do you wait for a problem to end up at your doorstep before you decide to do something about it? You know, you have, like he said, you have people at all of these different organizations. Reach out. Google is very effective. I've only been home now months and I've pretty much learned how to navigate Google, pretty good, better than most. [1:43:01] And it's actually pretty easy to be able to find different organizations like he talks about the people at his organization, Savatue, and we have Gina Mitchell at Queen's Defenders who was our policy coordinator. And we work on so many different subjects. Reach out. Reach out. Change is real, but it has to begin somewhere. You have to just be willing to take a step forward. It doesn't matter where you're from, how old you are, Republican, Democrat, rich, poor, black, white. It doesn't matter. You know, I look like I took a picture of a guy, a homeless guy on the train station a couple of days ago and I posted it on my Instagram page and it just blows me away how. And I'm just going to be straighter. I'm kind of, I have an issue with the whole immigration thing because I feel like, like he said, like Joe said earlier, like you have $70 million that you can give to a whole another country yet, you know, you're not addressing the issues right here at home right now. [1:44:09] Like, you know, I worked for the Department of Home in the shelters. Like, I've worked and I've seen it with my own two eyes. Like, and then you have citizens, you have veterans that come back from wars and can't even get the same services that people from other countries come here and get immediately, they get housing vouchers, they get education vouchers to everything. Like you know, make America great again. If you're going to make America great again, focus on the people, the citizens, the people who put you in office. It's just, I don't know. It's like, you know. What does that even mean? Look, I've been reading this book called Thinking Fast and Slow. It's a fucking phenomenal, highly recommended. It's about how your brain works and why we believe what we believe [1:45:02] and the two systems of our brain. And one is the quick judgment and the other is the slow it down and critically think about it. And there are all these puzzles in it where he makes the point by saying consider the following. And the studies that have been done on someone just repeating the same words over and over again and how that translates into people feeling that it's A credible and B that the person uttering the words has some credibility or are astounding just by keeping make them I mean are astounding. Just by keeping, make them, I mean, Trump might be, in my opinion, a little nuts, but he's, you know, a little crazy. He's crazy like a fox though. He knows if he keeps on saying those words, those, those words are going to stick. If he keeps saying witch hunt, people are going to start repeating it and they do. So, you a little like I don't even know what it means. I just know that we need to start [1:46:10] like having some individual thought before we just like this group think about other people and you know how they're different and lock them up and throw away the key. And, you know, I just think like we should all slow down and really think. And what I hope to bring is these stories where you get to know the person. He's no, I look, I'm deeply, deeply flawed. Sheldon will be the first to tell you like, I did some fucked up things. But when you watch what he's doing you know why can't we make people in these communities why can't we make them great again by giving them a better chance like you said at the outside of [1:47:03] the episode let them hit the starting line. Yeah. Well, you know, what you were saying earlier about building a sand castle, one green sand at the time, we're, I think, from my perspective, the feedback that I get, it's these conversations we've had, we've had quite a few of them now, they have changed a lot of people's ideas on how the prison system is structured, what the problems with it are, how many people are wrongfully incarcerated, how incredible some of these people are, wasted potential, locked away forever for something never did, and they didn't break. Instead, they got stronger and wiser and more intelligent and more educated and came out better. And they're incredible human beings. And how many of them are just being wasted? Yeah, that's my potential. I mean, this is what you want though, right? You don't want somebody to go into the prison system and come out worse. [1:48:02] Right. Which happens. Which happens. And then we hear about these horrific incidences or people getting pushed onto the train tracks because you have a guy who has a mental illness. Yeah. Instead of getting the services that he needs, you put them in prison, you sedated him for three, four years, five years, you sent them to a parole board, the parole board let them out. Two days later, he pushes somebody into the train tracks, right? This is not what you want. Yeah. And how do you prevent these things from happening, right? By being proactive, by being responsive instead of being reactive. Don't wait for something to happen. But you said something that Joe said something that is worth sticking for on for a second. These are most of the time, these are the miracles that are coming out. I mean, most of the time you're right, the cycle of from the street to prison, back to the street to prison. Most of the time, yeah, I mean, I'm just saying it in plain English. [1:49:02] Most of the time, it's churning out Monsters because what else would you expect right? I mean, you know, there's a great book Called in the belly of the beast about a guy that went to prison and he describes what it did to him psychologically What it did to him to every cell in his body and then he goes out and he murders someone and he writes this book just explaining I want you to understand what this did to me I read it when I was in college and I should read it again I probably have a different perspective on it now. It might hit home even more. But, you know, yeah, these are the, these are talk about grains of sand on a beach. You know, if you look at the population of people that keep getting churned out of correctional institutions, most of them are not getting corrected. [1:50:01] It take, you know, why do I like to spend my time with these guys? Because I hope some of their strength rubs off of me somehow. When I came home, right, and me, it took me almost 30 days to get any type of benefits or help. And I had to call this later, I called this, I put it for the snap, the food stamps, the benefits, the little bit of benefits that I had right, or that I could possibly acquire to help me navigate and kind of transition back and reintegrate back into society. And I had a conversation with a lady on the phone and she told me, she said, you don't qualify for emergency services. And I said, what? I said, miss, I just spent 25 years and five months incarcerated. If that is not a qualification, then what is? Oh, sir, I'm just telling you you don't qualify for it. I said, I need to speak to your supervisor. [1:51:00] It took me two days to get to her supervisor. But when I finally got to her supervisor, her supervisor, oh, I finally got to her supervisor, her supervisor, oh, I'm going to look into it and they finally gave me my benefits. But I'm saying all of that to say that there's these institutions in place that need to change. And for the people who are listening to this and you're directly involved in these institutions, there has to be a conscientious response to what classifies as an emergency. A person should not, I should not have, I had to wait 30 days. What if I didn't have family resources? What if I didn't have anything? And how much does that incentivize you to go right back to crime? Right, you know what I'm saying? How much would that have incentivized me to go out and commit a robbery or steal a piece of pizza like a guy out in California where they have the three strikes laws and then I'm giving this guy 20 years for stealing a slice of pizza because he's starving. These are real stuff. [1:52:00] This is stuff that's really happening. No, why This is stuff that's really happening. Why do you offer me anything? I had to actually go out. Do they give you any sort of guidelines of what you can do to reintegrate to society or do they just release you? They just release you. They gave me $40 and a bus ticket. and a bus ticket. And I had a little, I had a little J pay a debit card because I had a couple of dollars in my account that they gave me with a little bit of extra money on it. They have some programs that you're supposed to be entitled to prior to release, but it's a joke because the programs don't teach you any real skills. Right? Like one of the one of the most one of the most significant hurdles I had upon my reintegration is what's technology, right? I had never I've never had a cell phone in my life. [1:53:04] I sent out my first email in 2019 for my tablet that they gave me an all-burn correctional facility. I don't know what a PDF that I went online and they said I had to convert my application into a PDF before I could submit it. Excuse my language. I didn't know what a PDF. What the fuck is that? You know so these are some of the things that, when we talk about opportunities, right? And leveling the playing field and recidivism, right? Someone being able to get out and not have to be any situations where they feel like the whole world is against them and they really don't know what to do. They can't get the services that they need. They don't know how to navigate the basics of technology. Microsoft Excel. I was fortunate. I was in the computer program while I was incarcerated and I was able to, you know, as my role in the Cornell Prison Education program, I put myself into a position to where I was, I knew what [1:54:04] the Excel spreadsheet was. I knew what an Excel spreadsheet was I knew what a word document was but a lot of these guys is coming out. They don't know what that is But you skipped the PDF course Yeah, there's no PDF Yeah, I don't even know how to convert something to a PDF Like you know, so pretty simple. I'm sure but I don't know how to do it. Yeah, I'm saying that in an email be like fuck Well, you know, you know how to do it. Yeah, I'm saying all that in an email be like fuck fuck Well, you know, you know, it's crazy. You know, there's a there's a great program in New York called Hudson Link Where they I think it's a college program and they do a lot of great reintegration They provide a lot of great reintegration services and they're right like a few blocks from sin sin prison and you're a part of it. Shout out to Hudson Lake. So I obtained my degree of mercy from Hudson Lake. Sean Peacca runs the organization amongst many other formerly incarcerated individuals. Sean Peacca is also formerly incarcerated. [1:55:02] They have a post-secondary education program on the inside and they also have a post-secondary. They're actually paying for my master's right now to go back to school. They have a housing reentry program called New Beginnings. Amazing. That's where I went when I first got released. But going back had it not been for these formerly incarcerated individuals. had it not been for these formerly incarcerated individuals. Like I don't know where I would have been at. Had I had to depend on my elected representatives, my elected assembly and senators, like I would probably be trying to steal a loaf of bread out the grocery store. You know what's crazy? This was a trippy moment, man. Fucking trippy moment. The warden, it's sing sing. The guy named Mike Capra. All right. And when you conjure up in your mind what a warden looks like. I mean he's right out of central cast. Big burly dude. You know, you [1:56:09] looking at him, you think he's a boy. Watch out. You know, he's dull and out punishment. This guy was so inspired by what he saw at Sing Sing with formerly incarcerated individuals that got out and started programs. J.J. of Lasquez is voices from within started this organization when he was incarcerated where they bring people in the community into the prison, just to talk to inmates and to establish that there's some humanity there. Capra, the warden of Sing Sing Prison, they call him the superintendent in New York. That's what they call wardens. Now works for JJ. [1:57:01] He retired and now he works. For JJ, going around trying to he's like a missionary, but For the work we're doing Fred your Douglas program. We were at the UJC a couple of months ago United Justice Coalition I don't know I was at the note. I was the Jacob Javits. It was at the Javits at the Javits Center He was there. He spoke Derek spoke a huge huge event and almost at the, no, that was the Jacob Javits. It was at the Javits Center. Yeah, the Javits Center. He was there. He spoke, Derek spoke a huge, huge event, but Michael Capruz there. That was what I was saying. It was a trippy moment. I see him there. This guy was the warden of the prison and now he's there at a booth for J.J. He's working at the station. Speaking on behalf of incarcerated individuals. So yeah, right you talked to him. How did he make that? Oh did I talk to him when I saw him he told when Bruce got out He came to Hudson Link. They have like a it looks like a like a thrift shop and it and it kind of is But it's only for people getting out so you could go in and get some clothes [1:58:03] You could go get some kiki was Kiki Dunstons. That was her thrift shop she created that. So when Bruce gets out he had needed clothes. He said we'll bring you some clothes. He said no Hudson Link has this great little spot by. So while he was still awarded he came. While Bruce was picking out things to congratulate him and wishing well and I so yeah, I mean Not only did I talk to him is he told me when I retire? I'm gonna come work with these guys so yeah when I saw him at this event called the United Justice Coalition He's in a booth working for JJ on the Frederick Douglass project I saw what us and I saw him and he looked at me and he goes, I told you Josh and I just walked up, I gave him a big hug. He like recoiled. I was like, come on baby hug me. And he came in, he's like, man, it's like, he's like it's life changing, you know, it really is. [1:59:00] And we had a great talk about it. He was telling me how, you know, just being on the outside with these guys that I saw in, you know, not only in prison uniforms, but in a construct that I was the head of, and now they're the ones inspiring me. We need more my capers and more. Speaking of microcaper, right? So prior to my release, we, me and Bruce, Bruce Bryant, were working. So we created a number of programs. One of them was a civic engagement in New York, where we actually teach incarcerated individuals on their rights to vote, how they vote, how do you go to a booth, how do you register to vote, etc., etc. et cetera, et cetera. And Michael Capra was pivotal in allowing us to be able to create these programs and have a platform in the school building. One of them in particular that we are trying to work on now is dyslexia, right? And this might, this blew me away. And it may, and it may, you may see, [2:00:02] according to the Department of Correctional Education, 47% of the incarcerated population And it may, and it may, you may see, according to the Department of Correctional Education, 47% of the incarcerated population all across the United States have some type of dyslexia or reading disability, right? That's almost half of the individuals that are in the Department of Correction that have some type of reading disability, right? So when you look at, and that's the tip of the iceberg, right? So when you look at the bottom of reading disability, right? So when you look at, and that's the tip of the iceberg, right? So when you look at the bottom of the iceberg, right? And you go and you delve even deeper into that, right? What are the key factors that played in this person actually, you know, what's the correlation between incarceration and illiteracy, right? And there are currently no programs in any department of corrections throughout the United States. That's actually screening men for dyslexia or to determine who can read and who can't read. So how do you? Wow. Oh my God. [2:01:01] However, a study of Texas prison inmates by the University of Texas medical branch estimated that approximately 80% of prisoners and a sample group struggled with their literacy skills and that half were likely to be dyslexic. So half of them dyslexic, 80% of them struggle to read. So when we talk about, when we talk about recidivism and we talk about preparing someone to be reintegrated back into society, right? The Department of Corrections has failed. How can you say you're going to rehabilitate somebody? Reading for me, right? I believe that reading is a fundamental right. My grandmother used to read to me when I was a kid. I was laying her lap and she would read to me. And it wasn't even about what she read to me, but it was the connection that she and I had together and just being there with her. And it made me respect the idea of what it means to read, right? But when we talk about going back to the PDF thing, right? A guy comes home and he's supposed to go online [2:02:03] and fill out an application, but he can't even read. How is he supposed to follow basic instructions during transportation and trying to get on to the train and navigate through all of the basic necessities in life and he can't even read? There's an even more startling picture to that right? What about due process? Right. A guy is in a courtroom and a lawyer is giving him paperwork. He can't even read. So there's there's there's no system in place and I think that that's something that needs to something that needs to be addressed. I want to get to what were the circumstances that got your sentence reduced? How did that come about? Okay, so I can't even count how many motions I filed throughout my incarceration. [2:03:01] 44010s with this emotion to vacate. Rida Ericom, Nobis, which is an appeal to a judge, to the pilot division, to overturn your appeal, your right to appeal. I found a motion called the Domestic Violence Justice Survivors Act. And I knew that the motion was going to get denied called the domestic violence justice survivors act. And I knew that the motion was gonna get denied because I didn't qualify for the motion, for the motion. But my spirit told me to do it. My intuition told just foul it. And I filed it. And in the process of filing that motion, that's when I met Allison Hartap and Barbara Zolloff at the Center for Appellate Litigation. And they have what they call is the years program, youth emergent assisted resentencing program. And what they do is they look for individuals who meet a certain age bracket when they [2:04:02] were sentenced, a crime and then the sentencing, that's attached, usually disparaging sentences. So the motion got denied, but in the process, I connected with Allison and they reached out to me and they said, hey, listen, we think you qualify for the program. We think you're the poster child for this program based on your circumstances. And that began the process of my release. I think what played a significant role was what I had done while I was in prison because that's one of the major things that the District Attorney's Office had looked at. That's one of the major things that Josh and Allison and everybody had brought to the attention of these people say, okay, you know, you have a guy who has these set of circumstances, but look at what he has done while he was incarcerated. Look, what he has been able to accomplish. [2:05:00] And he did all of this under the pre-t is that he was never going to get out. So, we were going back and forth. We filed a bunch of paperwork. We had to get a bunch of documents. I sent out a whole bunch of documents and they put together what they call as a mitigation packet. and the mitigation package just outlines everything my circumstances, my sentence, my crime, accountability and a whole bunch of other factors. And they submitted it. It was a 440-20 in New York State, which is a motion to recentence or a motion to vacate the sentence. And initially the ball was rolling. The district attorney's office had initially conceded to the motion saying we're not going to pose the motion. And then something happened. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but maybe Josh, he has more of a background insight. [2:06:04] And at that time me and Bruce were working. I didn't know Josh and Bruce said, yo listen man, I'm going to talk to my man, Josh dude. He knows some people, they know some people and I didn't know that he was working with Derek Hamilton, Derek Hamilton and I had worked in a little library together. So I think when he mentioned to Derek, he said, you know, my nickname was superb. That was my nickname in prison. And he said, you know, a guy named Super, he said, yeah, I know Superb. So him and Derek got together along with Allison, Hoppe and Barbara Zolloff. And they went back to the District attorney's office in full force. They had all kind of me get. Josh, you could probably be. No, I mean, I don't. You know the details more than I do. Well, I mean, listen, I don't want to get too much into the details because I don't think they matter. And I think I want to make sure that the credit is given where it belongs, which is probably to Sheldon first before transforming [2:07:05] his life into Barbara and Allison because these are two amazing attorneys that saw potential and the injustice in what was done to Sheldon and who he had become and they got to know him. And I'm on the phone with Bruce and these prison calls, if they're not a legal call, these prison calls are like sometimes they just end real abruptly. You know, it's like, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, I gotta go buy. You know, or they're giving me a hard time. They're doing a count now. I gotta go buy or sometimes it'll just click off. So Bruce is, you know, about to get out. He's got his clemency is granted. He had gone to the parole board with a claim of innocence, which is so rare and got granted the [2:08:00] parole pending his the re investigation of his case. but he has clemency with no strings attached other than being on probation until they make a final decision on his innocence. And he's on the phone with me going, yo, yo, you got to, I got this guy, shelled in Johnson right here, and he wants to talk to you, his lawyer knows your cousin, and I was like, what the fuck is this guy, Sheldon Johnson right here, and he wants to talk to you. His lawyer knows your cousin, and I was like, what the fuck is this guy talking about? And I was like, Bruce, man, I gotta worry about getting you out. And this was going on for like a four month. And you know, he's right here, he's right here he wants to talk to you. I said, I'm not talking to anyone else. The only one of your case I got to get you out. He's like, please talk to Allison. She's been at your house before. No, you got something, you got your lines crossed somewhere. So I finally paid attention to it. I had a million other cases going on in Bruce [2:09:01] was our first client at the ProMutter Center and we were like, you know, really lining things up for his release. And I speak to a sheldon's lawyer and she said, you know, I'm actually friends with your cousin and when she organized the baby shower for your first for your daughter was my oldest Lila. She said, I was at your house for your baby shower. I remember your wife Jillian Rowell. She's like, tells me I remember your house and I'm like, this come on. You can't make this shut up. The connection. The connection. And I mean, in New York City, it was just too wild. So I said, send me, send me the mitigation submission. And that was when I read about Cheldon and I went to Derek Hamilton, who is a one man cyclone of justice. You know, he's been on the show. He's just, he is doing, he just does so much for so many people. [2:10:02] He's like, I know him, he's an amazing guy. We got it. We're gonna get him out. So right in the middle of There's so many Trump things where there's cameras all of Forget What it was pushing it back. They said oh, it's too much going on What was it? What was it though? It was him being indicted or those him being indicted and then they were saying that it was too much police activity there that they just kept trying they just kept pushing it back. So what happened was there was like we we were at the district attorney's office on a different case that we're working on and we asked the speech of the district attorney of New York and let him know that we were now representing Sheldon along with the Center for Appellate litigation and made a passionate plea on Sheldon's behalf. And I don't want to go too much into the details, but we were ended up, you know, kudos to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office for actually paying attention and seeing that Sheldon was worthy of a second chance. [2:11:08] And really, the sentence did not fit the crime. And the twist on Sheldon's story that I, it's like a head scratcher to me that I asked him about was the judge that sentenced him as a black man. And, you know, I set this sheldon, did that ever strike you as, I mean, here's an African-American judge that looks at this young black kid and should understand his circumstances and have a better understanding of it and not want to throw away his life. And I said, so what do you do with that fact? And she'll then say, well, I'll let you respond to it because he said something to me that I didn't really, I mean this judge now, you know, sits as a federal judge in the Southern District of New York. I don't know what to make [2:12:10] of that. It just seems so strange to me that that is who said this guy is not worthy of redemption. One of the things that I expressed to Josh when we had this conversation was that just in my experiences dealing with judges and prosecutors and correctional officers in particular, who are black, right? They struggle with this idea that they feel that they have to be harder on their own people for once to make an example and so that their colleagues don't think that they're being weak or showing favoritism because oh this guy is black so you're showing him favoritism. But the idea of like [2:13:02] what Josh is saying like you would think that someone who's in this position as a judge, he's an arbitrator, right? He is supposed to be someone who is in a position of power and authority, should be able to look down. And I mean maybe, maybe, maybe he saw something, I don't know what his experience was. I can't speak to that. Maybe he saw me as a menace. But I do honestly believe that. We need these people to be able to look at things from an objective, right? Because when you went, when as a person of color and in a position of power, like a lot of times it's a subjective reality. It's a reality that's attached to personal feelings and experiences and a [2:14:00] person who's in that position should be in a position to be more objective, right? We talk about objectivity and I think that's what it boils down to, you know, subjectivity versus objectivity, right? I think what you're talking about too is expressed by I know a lot of guys that have been that have had dealings with black cops. Black guys having dealings with black cops and they will tell you man, they will go out of their way often times to show that they're not showing any favoritism. Yeah. Like they have to show because they're a minority in their precinct and they go out of their way to show that they fit in with that culture. So you know, and you know, showing just to speak to what he said, right? Like when I was in upstate New York, Auburn and, and, and, and Clinton and, and, and Attica, you, you had a sprinkle of maybe one or two black cops. [2:15:01] Um, and the black cops were always the worst. Right. Because like he just said, you know, they are minority and they don't want to be ostracized by their co-workers or made the same as if they're showing favor to them towards the prisoners. So they go out of their way to just be extra. That's what we used to say. He's just being extra. He wants to enforce all the rules. What a white cop might say. This guy got a pot and a eye. So, you know, in prison, you know, we have like, you know, we have pots, guys cook and you have an eye. It's used to be like a coil that's detached from a hot pot and you use it to make food. There's been times when you know you'll have a white cop that are coming to sell and it's contraband. You're not supposed to have it. You'll have a white cop that are coming to sell and he'll see a pot and he'll just be like, he's just using that to cook. I think you'll have a black cop that are coming and be like, no, he can't have that. You know, and it's just, it's just, it's just, it's just interesting. And I think it goes, and I think it goes back even farther than that, right? [2:16:09] When you go back all the way into slavery, you know, you had the house, nigga, and the field, and they're excused my language for using those words, right? You could use them, we can't. Yeah, right. You know what I'm saying? And the idea of the person, the guy who was in the house, he was harder on his own people, his fellow slaves than some of the overseers may have been or the slave masses. So it's this transphood psychological state where a person feels like they have to just go above and beyond to like, like Jojo said Joseph said to show that or I'm not sure on favoritism. Yeah. Or I'm not speaking you know this whole talking white. God it's such a fucked up system. It's crazy. It's so fucked up and every time we have one of these conversations I leave and I just drive and I thank when I'm driving home just like what the fuck? [2:17:03] and I just drive and I think when I'm driving home, just like what the fuck? Like the just the sea of human beings that are entrapped in this system. What is the number of incarcerated individuals in the United States right now? Two million. So that's more than the population of Austin. Actually 1.92, around it off is two million. Roughly Austin and the surrounding areas so interesting that all of them are Austin right Texas Texas taxpayers pay $3.5 million in taxes towards prisons $3.5 million how much of that could be saved if it's invested I mean it would be a fastening study if one state would implement what we're talking about, like community outreach programs starting at a grassroots level. How much money would be saved by the state so investing that much? So for example, on the 17th of this month, we went to the Rally Treatment Not Gels, right? [2:18:07] So the idea of the Treatment Not Gels is to have a diversion court that deals with substance abuse and give the judges the discretion to send people who clearly have substance abuse issues into a program as opposed to incarceration, right? And for every dollar that is spent in this program, you save $2.21. I mean, there are studies we could go through, you know, incarceration in the federal prisons and the state prisons and at the risk of sounding like stat machines, you obviously see, Sheldon is very well versed, I am as well. But the point is, is the short answer is we would save a ton of money and be able to invest in people and things to make people happy, not sad, to engage in enjoyment, not suffering. [2:19:03] So productivity, not dependence. Wouldn't it just take one governor to implement something like this? That would show that there's a benefit financially for the state? But look who they're beholden to. You mentioned it earlier. Then they have to worry about how will that impact my electability, right? Because it's the corrections officers union, the police union, are they gonna get behind me in the next election You know it takes I think when you take a step back from a governor like we have a guy Who is the DA Brooklyn his name is? district attorney Gonzalez and You know we have an amazing relationship with him the pro-mother center Derrick Hamilton especially where we're able to go to him and his and the people that work with him. The ProMutter Center, Derek Hamilton especially, were able to go to him and the people that work with him and say, look, we have a client right now that's in prison for I think 30 years on a 30-year sentence for a $6 robbery at a drug house and the diversion programs, [2:20:01] the drug diversion programs that are available now weren't available back then. He's 69 years old. So we're really hoping, I think we're very close to the finish line of getting him released. So I think that the short answer is yeah, it would take a governor to implement a program to be able to point funds in the right direction. And you talked about just one second, you talked about HBCUs, FAMU in Florida, the only land grant HBCU in the state is the disparity in funding of that school versus other schools in the state is not a matter of You know, it's a matter of fact. I was recently arguing on behalf of these students that just want [2:21:03] to be funded the same way Florida State University of Florida and all the other public universities are. Like two weeks before my argument on the state's motion to dismiss, the United States government, the United States Department of Education sent a letter to the Governor in Florida and said, here are the statistics. This is all traceable to what they call, Dejure segregation. There was the, you know, and please fund the school appropriately. Well, the judge just dismissed the case a few days ago. And I would invite people to go online and read the decision because we're going to appeal it to the 11th Circuit in Atlanta. But it wasn't a matter of... There's no controversy. There's no argument that no, we are funding it appropriately. Famous was founded on a slave plantation. [2:22:06] Um, a former slave plantation. And, you know, when I brought that up at the oral argument, the judge won't nuts on me. What? No, you're saying it's a slave plant? No, I'm saying that's where it started. And if you take a thread and pull it forward through time, the United States Office of Civil Rights in the 1970s, in the 1990s, went to the state of Florida and said, you are not funding FAMU appropriately. And they entered into these consent decrees with them, where they had to do what's called destroy vestiges of the geore segregation. Because since Brown versus Board of Education, there was another Supreme Court decision called Fortis, which talked about how do you establish that a pattern or practice is traceable to segregation? And the state of Florida just is ignored it. [2:23:01] So does Governor DeSantis have the ability to make sure that FAMU is funded appropriately? Or does governor DeSantis going to worry more about Florida State University being somehow short-changed in the national championship and earmarked funds to challenge the college football folks to make sure, I mean, are you fucking kidding me? I went to Florida State. I think it's fucking, it's lunacy. So, to answer your question is yes, but he's not going to do it for whatever political reasons he has. Why not fund the school so that there is some, you know, a level playing field, you know, it's a controversial subject amongst ignorant voters. And it's a controversial subject amongst ignorant voters because all, all governor de [2:24:02] Santas has to say is he took a page out of Trump's book, because he knows it works. Is all he has to say is woke, woke, woke, woke, woke, woke, what does that mean? What does it mean? It means different things to different people. All I'm saying is look at the statistics and you cannot come to any conclusion, but the FAMU, the only HBCU that has a land grant institution in Florida, meaning that they were granted land, is funded, disproportionate to any other college in the state. And there is no reason for it other than that it is a vestige of segregation. And you know, really the state has the burden to say, no, there is a justified reason for it under the law. I'm just giving it to you in plain English. They don't put anything forth. I mean, I had the judge asking me questions in the oral argument on the motions to dismiss questions like this. Well, well, couldn't it be that Florida State University had better, a better Booster's [2:25:07] Club and that they were able to raise more money? And I said, you're absolutely right, you're making my argument for me. When you are struggling to make sure that the microscopes work in your science labs, which one of my clients will tell you is the case and you have dilapidated buildings. Are you worrying about starting a fundraising organization and boosters? Well, couldn't they have got it lobbied the legislator? Yeah, they could have who was running the legislator in Florida. You know, and so when you start to run into arguments like that, they're writing sort of on the wall and we have to work, we have to now take it up with the, you know, the 11th Circuit in Atlanta and try to get that decision overturned. This was on a motion to dismiss where the standard is just, I have to take all of the facts that the plaintiffs are alleging is true [2:26:00] and assume them to be true at this stage. So it's, you know, the point is the problem would not exist if the governor just said, you know what? I just got these statistics from the Department of Education. Let's just fund FAMU, proportionate to how we fund every other school. And they just don't, and what they fall back on is, well, you know, there's merit-based funding. I mean, start peeling the layers of that. So you look at the graduation rates, you look at other metrics. I mean, I think the flyable, yeah, I think you see the flaw there, right? So yeah, it can get frustrating at times and what, you know, like what, I have a choice now Do I fold up the tent? No, you go to the court of appeals and you make your case and you just keep on fighting and trying to get it right So so so to pick you back off with you just said right, you know when you say it can the governor Do these things right? Yes, they can a lot of times these [2:27:07] These objectives are long-term and it takes time to quantify them. So when we speak about quantifying like these these examples of what are the circumstances surrounding the lacking of funding. A lot of times these governors are more concerned about whether or not this is going to come out during an election year and people are going to, you know, whether liberals or conservatives are going to go against them and vote against them because they supported education of incarcerated individuals. I remember when I was going to Auburn and I was in the Cornell Prison Education program. This is in 2014. You had correctional officers, families outside the facility protesting as the volunteers were coming into prison with signs saying, does my kid have to get convicted [2:28:06] in order to get a free education? And the idea was that we were receiving a free education because we were incarcerated, which is not the case. The idea is that education has been proven to prevent recedivism. Individuals who have been shown to acquire associate degrees and bachelor's degrees are like 90 92% less likely to return back to prison So so so this is quantifiable Evidence of how you take money and you allocate it into one Project so over the long one you can save money. Yeah, I like what it can be done. Would you leave the response to that is not stop prisoners from being educated. It's like make it easier for everybody. Exactly. That's the response. I mean, I think the easy answer though to your question and why I don't focus my attention on governors [2:29:03] is I like, am I leaving this in people like Bill Clinton's hands when he was the governor of Arkansas? That fucking guy. Am I leaving it in the hands of Andrew Cuomo? That fucking guy. I mean, that guy wouldn't, that guy wouldn't answer a fucking letter. Wouldn't return, you know, his clemency program was to not have a clemency program so here's too busy hugging people. yeah, yeah, rubbing shoulders or ever. still in still in feels. oh my bad I didn't even know I was just in there. that's just here's been yeah. yeah so I think that the time, energy and resources are better spent. I think the private sector comes up with better solutions oftentimes at helping watch out what are they called? The Virtua cycle. The Virtua cycle works like this. When I saw the work that Allison Hopt and Barbara Zollop [2:30:00] were doing at the Center for Appellate litigation, I said, this is like, you know, God's work. This is like beautiful stuff they're doing and they're on a shoestring budget. So rather than be like, you know, the civil rights community can be interesting. It brings out the best than the worst of people. A lot of these civil rights organizations, you know, again, you throw human beings into any endeavor together, they're going to fuck it up. They like to argue and get like, mom, I mean, he goes and look what happened to me by coming on the show and the, the, some folks tried to censor me and I just wouldn't have it. So I saw the work that they were doing and I said, you know what do you do need help? And they said we need help. We need we have to do these mitigation reports and we have to hire people like in Sheldon's case to assess him a clinical psychologist a social worker whatever it is and we don't have the money to get the reports done and [2:31:03] there's just two of us. So the Pearl Motor Center is providing them with the money to get the reports done. And there's just two of us. So the pro-mother center is providing them with the money to do those reports. Steve Ziedman at CUNY is like, he's this guy that I think that he's responsible single-handedly for over 50 clemencies in the state of New York. Amazing phenomenal guy. He's coming, actually, he's coming to Queen's defenders to do a we're getting ready to start a uh, Clemacy Initiative at Queens Defenders. He's coming to train a bunch of guys. He's just this guy. Yeah, he's that doesn't surprise me. He's a guy that just, he's a letter writing machine and he keeps the pressure on and he just doesn't give up on people and you know, he needs help and we're looking for ways to collaborate. So we said, well, what is it that moves the needle to these clemency units at governor's offices? Because the governor's not paying attention. They've ever, they have a battery of people that listen to these cases and what they do are videos. He does these really great videos [2:32:02] that are like a day in the life and to sort of humanize the clients or they're not just on paper and pictures and they go and interview them and have them talk about what it would mean to be free and how they've changed themselves. So he needed a little bit of help to get these videos produced. So we agreed to donate some funds there. And I think it's just like having this more synergistic approach rather than have it be about me, or put my name on the door, let me get the credit. We just all pitch in. To wrap this up, if someone's listening to this and they want to reach out, they want to help, they want to contribute. Maybe somebody does want to, some Jeff Bezos type character does want to get involved and see if there is something they could do in terms of like some sort of a community outreach center or something that can help. What can they do? Who can they reach out to? They can go to the Pearl Mother Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law. [2:33:03] It's like Sheldon can Google anyone can Google it. Yeah, there it is. And I think Googling it would be faster if you scroll down to the bottom of it. You'll find the donate button. You know, there are ways and there's some of my students. There's a give now button, we put it all the way to the bottom. But in any event, you can reach out to me at joshua.dubina.yu.edu. That's my email for the ProMutter Center. And, you know, we're on the precipice of a major announcement with one of the most prestigious law firms in the country in a couple of weeks that has agreed to not donate just financial resources, but woman in manpower to help litigate these cases. [2:34:02] That came as a result of the exposure that we're getting here. So as I always do, I thank you from deep within my soul for allowing us to have this platform and the commitment that you made to doing this quarterly and telling these stories. I'm very thoughtful and who I bring on. I think this was one of the best ones yet. They're evolving. They're evolving. I just love the fact that Sheldon was able to tell a story and this was a different version of I think an important element of the story that needs to be told to all my deep respect and love for you. And my same to you. You know, I think what you do is extraordinary. It's so admirable. It's so important. And it tests an example to so many people that there's this great work that can be done and real good. And Sheldon, thank you very much for being here, man. Thank you. [2:35:00] Thank you for the example that you set. And all you've done to educate people and to just to set an example with your own life that there's a way out of this. You can also find us at QueensDefenders.org. There's also my email address as Johnson at QueensDefenders.org. You can reach out to us. We're also on the precipice of an amazing announcement working with Columbia University Day Youth Justice Ambassador Program and coordinating with professors and volunteers from Columbia to work with our youth emergent leadership program. And you know, we can use all of the help that we can get. Well, I'm sure you're going to get something listening. All right. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate you having me here.