THE TRYING MAN

 

It’s true I don’t sleep much. Many readers know I’ve been unjustly serving an indefinite prison sentence since 1999. For those who did not know, well… I have. And just so you’re clear on what I mean by “unjustly,” it defines being a first time felon, [convicted] of exaggerated drug charges, yet, [sentenced] for first degree murder on the sole basis of uncorroborated hearsay testimony from a government witness who was a career criminal trying to get out of serving his third or fourth prison sentence.
Yes, in spite of common belief, a person can in fact be sentenced to a term of imprisonment without ever being actually charged and convicted of a crime. And, yes, it’s unconstitutional. However, the American constitution hardly ever delivers on the protection of rights it guarantees. At least not to all classes of people. The evening news provide us regular proof of this. From Sandra Bland down in Texas, who had wished to assert her 4th Amendment right, not to be detained without probable cause– she mysteriously died in police custody– to Kalief Browder, the teen in NY who was detained for nearly 3 abusive years in Rikers under suspicion of having stole a backpack, before the accusations were dismissed– Browder’s traumatic experience later led him to suicide.
With that said, most of my days are devoted to figuring out how to undo my injustice. Which leaves me only my nights to work on my writing assignments. Both are equally important to me. In anticipation of one day overcoming my legal woes, I work diligently toward my future. From one project to the next, I binge write. The last 6 months I have spent sleeplessly researching and writing the real life story of a repeated world champion powerboat racer who was also the country’s biggest  pot smuggler. A couple years ago I wrote the movie, titled WARPATH.
You’ll learn much more about that project later in my following CSB articles. I’ll also tell you about how a big shot movie producer turned ghost on me after receiving a copy of that script and re-registering it, adding his name as the co-writer.
Yep, Hollywood is as shady as the judicial system. The two have not been my only feuds, though. It’s been a struggle trying to build up the BadlandEnt website over the past year. If you  have read anything about me on social media, then you have come across the name Auther “PLEX” Pless, the man who works as tirelessly as me, and then some, in the same arena.
Our goal with BadlandEnt.com is to ultimately build a video bank for viewers and artists to deposit and checkout variations of web entertainment. Such as exclusive podcast and video interviews with street legends and rising talents, documentaries, shorts, feature films, and webisodes. But in addition to original content, we expect BadlandEnt to eventually license some content as well.
Plex likes to term it as “Hoodflix.” A reference best explained as a rather corporate-less entity with the freedom and flexibility to provide web entertainment from the lowest budget work of art to big studio productions. Reaching that pinnacle is going to take lots of viewer traffic and content.
BadlandEnt is still far in its adolescence stage but we are adding new content as fast as we can. Plex and I co-write most of the content so far. The Badland staff includes a small film crew that we fight with constantly, but whom we happen to love and appreciate for believing in the vision of a couple over-ambitious incarcerated fools.
We got people running ragged trying to execute the things we dream up. Usually that’s two or three teams all working at the same time on different projects. The Urban Exposure Magazine is the hottest commodity jumping in the Badland camp at the moment. The site hosts orders for the magazine as well as a selection of our books.
All of this talk about being involved in screenwriting, magazines, books, web productions, etc, may appear odd for someone in prison. But it’s a form of rehabilitation. And the people who support us understand as we do that incarcerated folks must reform themselves because the idea has long been lost on the Bureau of Prisons. Real trade and skill building programs have been given the backseat to agendas that surround maximizing prison profits and justifying building more again.
The Obama administration did at least try with justice reform and second chance act policies. Which included an executive order to the Bureau of Prison to phase out the use of some its institutions. The objective was to stop using the money on building more prisons and use it on programs to get inmates the proper educational, drug, and alcohol treatment they need in order to be properly reformed and rehabilitated for re-entry into society.
It all looked good on paper and in theory. But, except for the alcohol and drug programs, no other program of real benefit to skill and trade building came.
Hopes of them ever coming were lost when the Trump administration took office. His AG, Jeff Sessions, signed an order in February rescinding the Obama order to cut back on more prisons. “I direct the Bureau to return to its previous approach,” Sessions wrote in a memo. The next day the stock shot up on two key private prison companies that the feds used to house prisoners. (CoreCivic Inc. and Geo Group Inc.)
The “return to the previous approach” means back to warehousing prisoners for profit, and rehabilitation left as only an individual effort.
By the way, the AG, Mr. Sessions was quoted by reporters saying he “plans to [reinvigorate] the Justice Department’s prosecution of crimes.” Let us pray that does not mean another war on drugs is being declared. Coming from a man who has also stated he will be going after recreational use pot cases– despite pot being legal for rec’ use in 8 states, plus DC, and legal for medical use in 28 states– I’d guess our struggles ahead are even greater
It is easy to fall into a the damnation of reform-less prisons. Especially when you do not have a release date. Who dares to even bother with dreaming in such  melancholy? I’ll tell you who. Men and women who are too passionate about living to allow an unjust, defunct system to bury them alive and choke out their hopes of ever being anything but damned. For even with no signs light, we absolutely must continue to work on improvement of self and circumstance.
Love and support the trying the man. The next CSB piece by Mike Harper will follow soon.

MICHAEL HARPER

Mike Harper is a screenwriter and novelist best known for his 2008 debut novel, STREET RAISED: The Beginning. Since releasing its mesmeric 2010 follow-up, SUGAR: The Life of a Kingpin’s Wife, he has worked perpetually to complete 6 more collective volumes in addition to an explosive new love & war trilogy titled, Perfume & Gunpowder. There’s two scintillating biographies to go along with the list and an erotic self-titled love story that’s full of hard to swallow moments and breathless sighs from start to finish.


Harper’s latest work includes collaborative screenwriting with fellow writer, Plex, on the BadlandEnt.com webseries, RISE & GRIND.


With over ten years of literary experience, he works as content editor for Badland Publishing, Book Gang Media, and Plex Presents. Occasionally known to flirt with journalism, Harper’s writing charm has appeared in magazines such as the long-standing Don Diva, the fleeting Urban Celebrity, and hip-hop’s newest source of hot news, the Urban Exposure magazine.


He grew up on the not so picturesque side of Miami. Taking that experience, he has unapologetically fashioned it into an art of illustrating vivid stories; albeit books, screenplays, or editorials.


Over 20 novels doctored or written by Harper are currently available on Amazon, BadlandPub.com and BookGangMedia.com. With 15 more self-authored novels already complete and digitally housed, the next few years of publication promises to be even more busy for the writer who swears he has not slept more than 4 hours a night since the debut of STREET RAISED.


The sleepless novelist, screenwriter, editor and quasi-journalist is now adding CSB to his fold of literary platforms.