I’m one of 1,000. As a teen, I was sentenced to multiple life-without-parole sentences for a non-violent drug offense. After serving 22 years in prison, I was blessed to be one of the first life-sentenced children to return home. As a member of the CFSY’s Board of Directors, it has been monumental to be able to celebrate the return of over 1,000 people like myself and I thank each of you for your incredible generosity in this moment.
https://cfsy.org/wp-content/uploads/Copy-of-Ralph-1K-release.png10801080karmahkarmah2023-06-28 16:34:142023-06-28 16:47:45Ralph Brazel Jr.
Abd’Allah Lateef is 1 of 1,000. At 17 years old, he was sentenced to life without parole in Pennsylvania. After serving 31 years, Abd’Allah is one of the 1,000 individuals who were told they’d die in prison as a child and are now FREE! Without hope or expectation of ever being released from prison, Abd’Allah devoted himself to personal and collective transformation, serving as a mentor, religious advisor, faith leader, and reform advocate. His strategic and thoughtful leadership style has been central to the CFSY where he now serves as Deputy Director. Since his release in the fall of 2017, he has met all of his initial 5 year milestones. He has found a place to leverage his knowledge, skill and lived- experience to advance racial equity and transformative healing justice. He has been able to purchase a reliable vehicle and experience first-time homeownership. However, he says, “beyond these temporal, materialistic niceties that are often out of reach for historically marginalized and formerly incarcerated persons, what I am most proud of and thankful for is the opportunity to contribute to the joy and wellness of my blended family and the ways in which I can be proximate to a beloved community of people who, through everyday acts of grace, kindness, love and joy, are building the world that we aspire to live in.”
Barakah (Edward Sanders) is 1 of 1,000. At 17 years old, he was condemned to die in prison. After serving 42 years in Michigan, Barakah is one of the 1,000 individuals sentenced to juvenile life without parole who are now FREE! Going into prison, Barakah was illiterate so he took a Writ Writers Course, equipping him to assist other incarcerated individuals who were illiterate or disabled in filing writs with state and federal courts, becoming an instructor of civil, criminal, and administrative law with consistently overflowing attendance. Barakah remains driven to serve those still serving juvenile life without parole in Michigan, the state with the highest population of people serving JLWOP. Since coming home, he’s been dedicated to conveying his lived experience to spark constructive thinking and positive social change for those who have not yet been released. After receiving his master’s degree from the University of Michigan School of Social Work in 2020, he worked as a consultant and researcher for the School of Information, leading the Oral History Project to give a voice to former juvenile lifers. Today, he’s writing a book. Barakah is also starting a business called Sentencing Solutions to continue his work as a re-entry specialist, building on his experience as the only formerly incarcerated person who worked for a prosecutor’s office in the nation, assisting the conviction, integrity and expungement unit (CIU). His favorite pastimes are prayer, reading, and running.
Riley Briones is 1 of 1,000. At 17 years old, he was condemned to die in federal prison. One month ago, just in time for his daughter’s wedding, Riley became one of the 1,000 individuals sentenced to juvenile life without parole who are now FREE! Riley is the only person of these 1,000 who was freed through compassionate release. Riley was gathered by his family on his first day of freedom and a highlight since coming home was celebrating his birthday as a free man with his wife. Welcome home, Riley!
Angel Alejandro is 1 of 1,000. Condemned to die in prison for a crime he committed when he was 15, Angel is one of the 1,000 individuals who were sentenced to juvenile life without parole and are now FREE! While incarcerated, Angel served as a facilitator in the mentoring programs “Alternative to Violence (AVP)” and “Victim Impact” to help people who have committed harm understand how their choices affect others. He educated himself and came home with two degrees and several certifications, including one in Business Entrepreneurship. During his studies, Angel served as a tutor for other students. Today, in his role as the Senior Development Manager for Grants at CFSY, Angel educates diverse stakeholders on issues related to the extreme sentencing of youth. Outside of work, Angel loves working on strategy as an avid chess player and building his ever-expanding collection of sneakers.
Christy Lockheart is 1 of 1,000. At 17 years old, Christy was condemned to die in prison. After serving 32 years in Iowa, Christy is one of the 1,000 individuals sentenced to juvenile life without parole who are now FREE! Within the past few years, Christy has started her own business as an interior painter, gaining most customers from reference, and relishing being known as a painter rather than a criminal. She cherishes her moments and experiences as a member of the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network (ICAN) and Heart 2 Heart, CFSY’s support group and journaling course which she says have helped her gain the approval to move forward with her new life. Christy recently moved to a new apartment with a lake and is building her credit history to someday purchase a house. She enjoys spending time with her fiance John and their puppy Cally as they share their days on long walks. Learn more about how you can support those who have come home: https://cfsy.org/get-involved/1000-releases/
Donnell Drinks is 1 of 1,000. At 17 years old, he was condemned to die in prison. After serving over 27 years, Donnell is one of the 1,000 individuals sentenced to juvenile life without parole who are now FREE! Since his release, he has worked in his Philadelphia community as a mentor and anti-violence advocate with his nonprofit organization Gaining Respect Over our Worst Nights (G.R.O.W.N.). Intricately involved with re-entry, Donnell is the co-chair of the Philadelphia Rentry Coalition (PRC). Bringing his skills across the national landscape, Donnell also serves as CFSY’s Leadership Development & Engagement Coordinator. Outside of work, Donnell enjoys riding his motorcycle, graphic design, photography, and celebrating his freedom with his family.
Brandon Harrington is 1 of 1,000. At 17 years old, he was condemned to die in prison. After serving nearly 27 years in Michigan, Brandon is one of the 1,000 individuals sentenced to juvenile life without parole who are now FREE! Brandon earned a degree in business management and a paralegal certification while incarcerated and took classes in financial literacy, truck driving, and more. Since his release, he’s acquired his Commercial Driver’s License, works for Faygo Beverages, and is currently working on purchasing his own commercial vehicle to fill the shortage of truckers in America and “give back to society.” As a member of the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network (ICAN), Brandon aims to “help younger people avoid some of the mistakes and steps I took.” Watch Brandon’s message about his story of redemption and learn more about how you can support those who have come home: https://cfsy.org/get-involved/1000-releases/
Christi Cheramie Is 1 of 1,000. At 16 years old in Louisiana, she was condemned to die in prison. After serving 25 years, Christi is one of the 1,000 individuals sentenced to juvenile life without parole who are now FREE! Since coming home, she began working as a Rentry Specialist with our partners Louisiana Parole Project and was recently promoted to a Special Project Coordinator! She is also the primary caseworker for women coming home, many of whom were friends and mentors to her while she was incarcerated. Christi is so grateful for the opportunity to give back to them what they had given her as a young child in prison. Christi says that “Life is about creating memories, especially with those you love. Now that God has blessed me with the opportunity, I plan to enjoy every moment to the fullest!” She enjoys spending time with her partner Frederick and adopted daughter Liberty as they make memories in their new home. “The regrets and pain that was caused to others in the past will forever remain a part of my life. The past does not define who I am, but my life will always be a reflection of God’s grace, and a true example of redemption.”
James ‘Jamo’ Thomas is 1 of 1,000. At the age of 15, he was condemned to die in prison. After serving 30 years in Michigan, Jamo is one of the 1,000 individuals sentenced to juvenile life without parole who are now FREE! Today, Jamo runs a nonprofit food ministry named Rising Sun Ink that feeds 700 families a week. He is dedicated to tackling poverty and inequities in his community, mentors youth, and helps returning citizens in Detroit, Michigan transition to life after prison. He is driven to give back, to be “an agent of change.”
Learn more about how you can support those who have come home: https://cfsy.org/get-involved/1000-releases/
https://cfsy.org/wp-content/uploads/jamo1in1000.jpeg526526karmahkarmah2023-06-14 20:07:322023-06-14 20:07:32James 'Jamo' Thomas