Life Beyond These Walls
By Angela Stanton
Just months before President Barack Obama was recognized as a serious contender for the white house hot seat, my book, Life Beyond These Walls was in the final stages of completion.
Although this had been my second time in prison, this experience was the worst. Even as I have to admit that it was indeed the worst time in my life, it was also the best learning experience I have ever had.
There are many simple things, I can honestly say, that I took for granted. I never realized what a privilege it was to open a refrigerator whenever I pleased until I ended up in prison where there weren’t any refrigerators, only walk-in coolers. The only thing I enjoyed about prison was the times I was allowed to sleep. As crazy as it may sound, this was my only escape from reality. I made myself believe that I was dreaming. I told myself again and again that the nightmare would be over soon. That was the only way I could cope and deal with my pain. The pain of giving birth to a child, handcuffed to a bed, and the pain of losing both my mother and grandmother to death while I was incarcerated. The pain of not being there for them when they needed me most was just too overbearing. I had no clue as to how I was going to make it through this situation.
When I was informed about the death of my mother, it all seemed like a dream. There I stood on a yard, enclosed by barbed wire fences... surrounded by convicted felons. At first, denial set in... Then came the blame, regrets, grief, should of, could of, would of, and then all I could think about was my children.
In Life Beyond These Walls, I give voice to the unforeseeable events that can devastate our youth. The first day I decided to write this book, I had one sole purpose in mind, I wanted to help troubled girls. All the ones that had been through what I’d gone through, even the ones that hadn’t. I had a lot of internal issues as a young girl, yet I’d never met anyone that could share stories with me about how they had overcome the same hurts that I’ve endured throughout my lifetime.
With that in mind I knew I had to write this book. Inside there are so many stories, from women of all walks of life, suffering from all kinds of hurts. Whether it is mental, physical, sexual, or verbal, there is a lesson to learn in each one of their stories. This book gives insight into where criminal behavior begins and it shows the consequences of thoughtless decisions. After you read this book, I’m sure you’ll be wondering just like I am; who is the real victim?
I wrote this book as a training manual and a resource for dialogue, to help the young women of this nation become critical systematic thinkers for the 21st century and beyond.
There is so much to be done and so much that isn’t being said. When I was writing my book, I was warned not to be too controversial. That is an interesting twist of fate. The things that matter the most, things that we really believe in are often labeled to controversial to be discussed in the light of day. Yet one can’t help but wonder if the evils of society, that lead our women and men down the path to a life behind bars will be addressed in the days ahead that promise change?
(Angela is pictured above with Dr. Alveda King and Rev. Al Sharpton)