Letters to Ms. Em...

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Why Is Family Important

Posted on September 11, 2017 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (43)

Why is Family Important?                                                                                                                                                      August 17, 2017

Before I begin to tell you why family is important, allow me to tell you who I am and what qualify me to actually write about the importance of family to an incarcerated individual.

My name is O. Hooks, I have been in prison since I was 16. I’m currently 24 years serving a sentence of Life with the possibility for Parole after 35 years.

I was arrested on April 7th 2010, subsequently charged with first and third degree murder, also related charges.

I was later convicted on December 8, 2011 for first-degree murder, later sentenced to Life without Parole on Jan. 31, 2012.

I was sent upstate on Feb. 3rd, 2012, my grandmother lost her fight to Leukemia cancer while I was housed in the “hole”.

On June 25, 2012, Miller vs. Alabama, a U.S. Supreme case was decided ruling that it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a juvenile to a mandatory sentence of Life without Parole; it only allowed after the court to determine a sentence through taking consideration of individualize factors: drug history, urban or rural environment, etc.,

I was resentenced to 42 to Life on Nov. 4, 2014 and subsequently resentences again on April 15, 2015 to 35 years to Life.

I couldn’t have gotten through this roller coaster ride without the support of family. They give me hope when it was room for hopelessness. I fed off of their strength and optimism and they gained strength from my constant positivity. It’s reciprocal, together we developed aspirations, dreamt of life willed with joy, getting through life woes together, redefining what family, love, hope means amongst each other despite the distance putting a strain on the relationship, and the inability to communicate frequently didn’t nurture our bond, but just stunted its growth.

Let’s create a different perspective, imagine being 5-6 hours away in prison and your only love ones are your immediate family, maybe your mother is having a hard time getting around, and the only way she will be able to see you if you find someone willing to bring her up, and you’re unable to; you’re serving a 6 to 12 years. Your mother can only send money when she receives her social security, other than that, no one else supports you. Maybe you call home once in a while, the people you call has never been a positive influence; the substance of the conversation consist of “what’s going on in the streets,” so on, so forth…..

I remember an experiment conducted by Temple University, they documented incarcerated inmates with support who were housed closer to home and those without support housed further away.

The ones who has support was less likely to re-offend once release, the recidivism rate was significant lower for those inmate in particular.


O. Hooks/#KJ-8698/SCI-Chester/500E. 4th Street/Chester, PA 19013


I am called Habit

Posted on September 18, 2016 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I am your constant companion

I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden

I wil push you onward or drag you down to failure

I am at your command

Half of the task that you do might just as well turn over to me and I will do them quickly and correctly

I am easily managed

You must merely be firm with me

Show me exactly how you want something done; after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great people and alas of all failures as well.

Those who are great I have made great,

Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, but I work all the precision of a mahine, plus the intelligence of a person.

Now you may run me for ruin

It makes no difference to me

Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will lay the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I? I am called Habit.

Reflection of the pen, pencil, paper and ink.

Posted on September 18, 2016 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

From the Book:  AGAINST ALL ODDS" by Armando Valladares.  

They've taken everthing away from me




because they don't want 

me to write

and they've sunk me here

in this cell

but they aren't going to drown me

that way.

They've taken everything away from me

-or almost everything-

I still have my smile

the proud sense that I'm a free man

and an eternally flowering garden

in my soul.

They've taken everything away from me



but I still have life's ink

-my own blood-

and I'm still writing poems with that.


Should I Tell Him that She Died?

Posted on September 17, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

While my mind is in a place of bewilderment, my spirit embraces the fullness of  Divine Grace. It is from this Grace I live. but I am human.

Should I tell Brother Rainn that a child whom he had known and mentored had been found dead.   He resides behind the walls in a 6x9 cell, should I bring to him more burden, such tragic news of the passing of  Robin, a child not much older than his bioogical daughter.  Should I tell him the semi-unknown story of her death, that she was found in an abandoned building which had been damaged by fire.  Should I tell him such horrrid detail, and when should I tell him and how do I tell him, should I tell him in a letter or should I tell him as we speak on the  phone. Yes, I will tell him because it is  and not about how i fee or how he will feel, it is our responsiility to reason to the next realm of action, it is time to re-evaluate, to remember the conversations with Robin, of  her situations and realities and of our perceptions and and responses. It is time to go back and try to fill in the blanks/spaces/things that we missed and the words that were spoken and felt but we did not listen closely to understand the voices as they became ONE, talking at the same time; crying out for help to stop the painful memories of various abuses from consuming their childhood. It is time to work harder and with God's Grace.

Indeed, I must tell him. I will write him a letter!

Your Purpose

Posted on February 13, 2016 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

When you are called to do God's work and you are not fully engaged in it, God constantly reminds you by sending the experience of others to you. Is it my voice that is needed to  make an impact, to help to heal the pain of mothers who have lost their children in the street due to violence. Or am I simply to listen. ,This has been a trying week for me, I must do something to help these women, I hurt for them and at times I feel helpless.    May God give them the strength to go on without their children, May God fill the void with his love and perfect memory of that baby born who is now in the arms of his true Father.  Feeling much today but I cannot find the words right now to express my feelings.  The only word I can think of is sadness. 

Most from the Worst -Inspired by B.O.L.D.

Posted on February 6, 2016 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been taking the most from the worst

Creating monsters like fleet ships

Stretching my abuse for a lifetime

Maybe even passing it on to my lifeline

I have been abusing my life so terribly 

Dreams standing still in my head while fear constanly rings the bell

Clouding out the good thoughts that life has to tell

Why do these abusive thoughts continue to lead my  life  

Waiting up for me daily day and night

Is it that I am weak and without plan

For without a plan I cannot take my life  stand

Is it my thoughts leading me away

Toward a life that is not healthy to stay

Oh, no, it's time to take a stance

And If time should  stop today

I will swing around and get my life straight right away

Will start right now

Bringing in a smile to my mind

Keeping it constant I will never lose my time's mind

I will dance in and I will dance out

I will dance daily on life's mind doubt 

No longer will I abuse a life so short

Will governed the gifts of God constantly heard about

Giving honour and thanks for the life which surrounds me 

I will Create the peace and blessings as I  gently lay abuse out of my way

Creating the most from my life today.


B.O.L.D. - EmPowered Manhood Series

Posted on January 31, 2016 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

"To read is the foundation of all knowledge."

A New Year-Still, So Many Tears

Posted on January 29, 2016 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I have been behind the scenes for the last half of 2015.  After 17 years, we are acclimatizing MeJah Books-from The Tri-State Mall to a new  location- Holly Oak Shopping Center on Philadelphia Pike in Claymont Delaware. Yes, I know, change is constant and it is important that we are prepared  to deal and accept change. But, I don't know, a new year is here and still so many tears!  Our young brothers are still dying in the streets and/or heading to prison.  The new year has brought along its tears and pain; as my brothers provide the constant change from life to death.  But I wished so desperately for change of understanding and love of self by my brothers but I still received so many tear.      

Brother Ali

Posted on May 21, 2015 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Greetings Queen Em,

Not once have I ever forgotten U in my nightly prayers to Allah!  I pray that U have found the happiness in this life that has always eluded me; but I have found peace of heart & soul with Almighty Allah!!.........

My Friend,

Brother Ali

GROWTH:  The important thing is this:  To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.  Charles Dubois

Happy Mother's Day

Posted on May 9, 2015 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

This message  via a Mothers Day card is from Brother Rainn , co-author of Letters to Ms. Em" and serving LIFE Iin prison.

Inscription:  "With Love On Mother's Day"

Ms. Em, Today is a good day to tell you that I love you very much and I appreciate everything you do for me. 

Happy Mother's  Day

Love Your Lil' Brah