Duane Angelo Gittens

Photo of Duane Angelo Gittens and friend

Duane

Hello, my name is Duane Angelo Gittens, #K22294 and the nature of my life crime, was a Horrific (matricide) for which I was reluctantly a part of in 1994. I was abused as a young child and as an adult teen; in a state of desperation, I vented to a best friend who was nineteen or twenty in 1994, as I was. He did not take my frantic ranting to him serious, but unbeknownst to me, he had company in an adjacent room who overheard my yelling and took my rants to heart. My distresses about being abused, hurt, and neglected for years fell on dangerous ears. And that is when my nightmare began.

I was brought-up in an upper-middle class home. I was a Cerritos Athletic over-achiever with high hopes and dreams of being in the NFL. From the age of 15-years-old to 19, 20-years old, I held down a part-time job while in high school, as well as in college, while playing football. I was raised by a hard-pressed, firm disciplinarian, single-parent mother whose love I deemed abusive in my teens. For a short period of time during my pre-teens, I was molested by her, which I never shared with anyone until I came to prison. I first shared this with my fiance, the love of my life.

While I’ve been in prison, I’ve written over thirteen unpublished books. I completed two Anger Management courses; I am a spearhead for the Nation of Islam and formed student minister, and helper of Muhammad, the righteous people, and have become a 5%. I am also a well-studied, secured party creditor for the past ten years, registered with the Secretary of State.

Delano III-prison has picked my brainchild-baby of a reform class, called F.I.R.M. Resolutions (which stand for Firm – Intelligent – Responsible – Models; also known as Significant Challenges) created by a fellow LWOP named Rudy Murphy at Delano State Prison, who is now with us at Solano. I am currently striving to get this approved at CSP-Solano.

I know that, no matter the circumstances in life, they cannot define or defy who you really are. My testimony in life is to let all who hear me, understand the struggle is real. Struggle is ordained; we all, all of us are equipped by the Most High to overcome any and all mistakes, bad choices, circumstances, people, places, things, environments… for a positive, pro-active, social lesson in one another’s life in society.

Everyone’s contribution counts for a child, good, bad, and ugly. My presence, back in free society, will only project positive, reform insight and strength of a Man whose been to the darkest places in self and prison-of-self and society, yet has emerged to see and be part of the light.

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Lifers Offer Renewed Hope

Lifers with Optimistic Progress

By Michael Brown, Contributing Editor

Throughout my eighteen years of incarceration on a life sentence, there have been many times where I’ve found myself trying to discover a renewed sense of purpose and way to be of service to others. I realized that as a lifer I’m part of the class of prisoners that is often discriminated against by the prison system. We are usually housed in facilities that limit our activities and our access to positive programs. Moreover, society rejects us (lifers) because, from their perspective, we have nothing to offer or give back to their communities… as we are sentenced to die in prison.

However, the program, Lifers With Optimistic Progress program (L.W.O.P.), is more than an activity to partake in or just another program. After 18 years of incarceration, with the last twelve of those years being serviced in the Security Housing Unit (SHU), the L.W.O.P. Lifeline Youth Offender Program provides me with a new sense of purpose – mentoring the youth who are entering the prison system. This amazing program also allows us as a collective group to give back to society.

The L.W.O.P. program illustrates how this class of life prisoners generally rejected by the system and society can be a positive and productive resource for both the prison system and society. The L.W.O.P. mentors with more than 200 years combined experience in prison utilize their experience and insight to teach incarcerated young men the importance of participating in positive prison programs. Allowing these lifers to give back to society by enabling them to assist and influence young men who will reenter their communities with a more positive and productive mindset, is beneficial to all of us.

It is important to understand that the real engine or driving force of the L.W.O.P. Youth Offender Program is the youth! These young men made a conscious decision to work on bettering themselves while incarcerated so that they will reenter society better prepared to succeed as men and fathers: to be positive examples in their respective communities and for their families. It is for these reasons that the system and society should begin to recognize and utilize the insight, experience and will of the lifers in prison. It’s time to fully acknowledge and treat Lifers as having something valuable to offer.

My hope in writing this on behalf of the L.W.O.P. Lifeline Youth Offender Program is to increase interest and receive much needed and deserved support and sponsorship from those on the outside. It is one thing for society to overlook the lifers, but another issue all – together for society to NOT take an interest in the incarcerated youth who will return to their communities in the near future. It all begins by supporting the positive programs available to them while they are still behind the walls.