By Aziz Brown
After serving 23 years in prison, I paroled from San Quentin State Prison on August 17, 2018. It’s
was a bittersweet day for me because I left behind my young cousin, Emon Barnes, who
resided ten cells down from me. At the age of 15, he was charged as an adult and sentenced to
40 years to life.
The feeling of leaving someone you love and care about in conditions that are degrading and
cruel is heartbreaking. Our experiences are similar in the sense that we were both tried as an
adult and sentenced to die in prison.
Emon has been entrapped in an abusive and flawed system for 19 years, and this system
continues to subject countless lives to cruel and unusual conditions even during this devastating
pandemic. His struggle has not been easy even with the assistance of the Innocence Project of
Loyola Law School who has been fighting to get his conviction overturned for six years.
The bittersweet moment I experienced two years ago has lost its bitterness and it’s now
completely sweet. “Stay humble and keep God first and your time will come”, are the words that
I left him with the night before I paroled. The moral to the story is that man plan, but God’s the
best of planners and it doesn’t matter how bleak one’s situation may be there’s always light at
the end of the tunnel if we only believe.
To read more about Emon Barnes click here
Mass and static incarceration will not be solved unless we address that which we are most afraid to talk about: violent crime, and/or those serving life sentences. Our mission is to change the way society and the justice system respond to violence and harm. From Proximity to policy.