Recent Articles

Heeding a ‘Call to Action’


Our Bridging the Gap workshop on October 1, 2014 was an historic day on many levels. Forty community organizers and advocates came into the Lino Lakes Correctional Facility together. The workshop was a true collaboration of inmates, community leaders, and Lino Lakes staff. The chance to connect over a meal and conversation with our new friends was an experience we all know was precious and fleeting. Continue Reading →

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Wiping away the dirt through the arts

A biweekly column in which various contributors from both sides of prison walls explore common ground for effecting change
When I was young, I worked with other kids in Phillips and Powderhorn putting murals up in lots and on buildings that might have otherwise just represented more of the same grime and decay that went on in much of the rest of these neighborhoods. I also took part in the Free Mumia rallies at Cedar-Riverside in the mid-nineties, only kind of understanding then what it all was supposed to mean in my life. I certainly didn’t anticipate when I was a kid that I would spend so much of my life in a prison cell. It has been a humbling realization of my mistakes and personal misperceptions. It has also shown me how people can be dehumanized in so many ways, and has taken so much from me and from my family. Continue Reading →

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In memory of three great men

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer


We lost three individuals this April; I personally didn’t know each of them, but came close to meeting one of them. Charles Sumner “Chuck” Stone, Jr. died April 6 of congestive heart failure at an assisted-living facility in North Carolina at the age of 89. Born in 1924 in St. Louis, he was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II. Then, instead of attending Harvard — who accepted him, he instead went to and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1948, and later earned his master’s from the University of Chicago. Continue Reading →

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Hold government, business accountable for keeping our youth from street madness

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, it’s time to build opportunity for the African American children. It’s clear that all the recreational things other communities have make a difference in a youth’s life. To begin with, we’ve got to have some real drop-in centers for these children where they can have dances and other social activities to help teach how to interact in a social environment. Maybe it’s time to bring back a teen nightclub like “Mr. Lucky.”

We must find ways to create consciousness, like it was when we adults grew up. Continue Reading →

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Choose your hustle wisely — Self-reliant skills that even a child can learn


In the midst of this struggling economy, many use crime as an outlet for relief. The excuse of “I’m just trying to survive” is hollering out relentlessly as if it justifies the assault on the community, who is also “just trying to survive.”

At the start of this school year, an event occurred in St. Paul that made me acutely aware of just how absurd and unnecessary crime can be sometimes, even in a poor economy. A young mother set out on the task of teaching her nine-year-old daughter how to get her hustle on out on the block. The mother brought her daughter to a local connect to purchase some weight. Continue Reading →

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Children shouldn’t receive a life sentence

My 99-year prison sentence started in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota’s only maximum-security prison. Built into the side of a hill, the prison has acquired the unsettling myth of being underground. Upon my arrival, I believed it was true. To enter the cellblock, I rode an elevator that slowly descended three levels. I felt condemned to a deep dungeon and thought I would never see daylight again. Continue Reading →

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