Everyday Prison Life with Ike
For a while, it looked like Ike was going to beat the odds. Growing up in a lifestyle and culture he refers to as “the underworld,” Ike won a track and field scholarship to the University of Arizona that helped him escape the violence and dysfunction of his childhood.
“Those weeds were never pulled up out of my heart. So it was easy for me to revert back into that old lifestyle.”
“But I ended up falling out of school and going back into the community I was raised in,” he shares from the yard at Folsom State Prison. “And those seeds that were planted in my life early were always there. Those weeds were never pulled up out of my heart. So it was easy for me to revert back into that old lifestyle that I was raised around.”
Ike began engaging in criminal activity after dropping out of college. Arrested on murder charges, he refused to testify against his fellow gang members out of loyalty. Convicted, Ike began a life behind bars. In this week’s Insider, he shares about everyday prison life.
THE WAITING GAME
According to his sentence, the earliest Ike can seek parole will be the year 2070.
“That’s death, really, in prison,” Ike says. “I’ll be a hundred and something by the time I go to the board. But thank God, things are changing. They say that at 60 I’ll have the opportunity at my 25th year to go to the board because of the age limit.”
THE HARDEST PART
Life in prison can be tough. For Ike, the hardest part of it all is knowing that at any moment, anything can happen.
“A person can start a riot, and you can be minding your business,” Ike says, “and next thing you know, somebody [is] trying to kill you. That’s the toughest thing about prison — sometimes you can’t control your environment.”
A LIFE OF GOODBYES
“When they’re gone, it’s like a piece of you leaves with them.”
Confined and isolated from the rest of the world, prisoners like Ike build strong bonds with each other.
“If you have a cell mate, you know them better than their parents know them,” Ike explains.
Building friendships with his brothers in Christ helps Ike find community in prison, but it can also be heartbreaking. “People are always coming and going … and when they’re gone, it’s like a piece of you leaves with them. And that’s a tough thing.”
ON THE OTHER SIDE
“I would honor God and appreciate life.”
Although Ike knows he might not ever see parole, he still dreams about what he will do once he’s out on the other side of those prison walls. He also knows he will need a lot of help.
“I’m in the Stone Age,” Ike laughs. “I can’t use no technology … I have a lot to learn. In a sense, it’s like being born again.”
Ultimately, he wants to enjoy the life that God has blessed him with.
For Ike, the best thing about freedom would be the opportunity to enjoy it for the first time in his life. “I can enjoy God’s creation, I can enjoy trees, I can enjoy the birds — I can enjoy being able to eat with a fork! I can enjoy being able to sit on a curb and just listen to the cars go by,” Ike explains. “There’s a lot of things that I would do, but most of all, I would honor God and appreciate life.”
Originally published at www.prisonfellowship.org on June 22, 2017.