My Brother and the Florida Prison System

On March 14, 2018 at approximately 3:30 p.m. I, Shantavia Allen conducted an interview via phone with my twin brother, Gerrod Allen Jr. He is currently in Franklin Correctional Institution which is in Carrabelle, Florida. He is 26 years old and serving 15 years for Burglary. The calls are only 15 minutes long so I was able to get two phone calls to conduct my interview.
Starting with questions about how he has been doing first of course. It was very difficult conducting the interview because I hadn’t really talked to him since he had been moved to that prison. He was placed there on February 14, 2017. Gerrod wasn’t out 6 months from doing his last prison sentence when he caught this charge. He stated in the interview that he and another gentlemen got into an altercation and the man said he pulled a knife on him. How that turned into a burglary charge? No one knows.
Serving 5 years of your life in prison then turning around and serving another 15 years is one of the worse things he said you can go through. Especially when you have a 6 year old son. My brother admitted he was wrong in the situations that happened. But the second time he doesn’t agree. Because of him just getting out from doing 5 years there’s some kind of paper you sign that says if you get in trouble within 2 years of being released you can get the maximum sentence to the charge you committed. Gerrod wanted to take the case to trial but my mother told him not to because they would take the 15 year offer off the table and give him life if he lost. We couldn’t risk that chance so he took the 15 years.
Gerrod had already had his high school diploma before he went to jail the first time. While incarcerated the first time he was able to work on outside field work. This time he said he wanted to work on law and also getting his CDL license so when he gets out he can go on the road to work and stay away from anything that might cause him trouble. He stated he is doing what he can to get out to be with his son and see his nieces grow up. He has been in locked down 5 times since he has been locked up due to activity that goes on in the prison. He said where he is located he watched a man almost get his face cut off by another inmate. So he believed that he needed protection to stay alive. The prison is a high security prison but he said there’s not enough guards to save everything that goes in the prison.
With the things the prison have to offer him far as different degrees and trades he can receive, he chooses to take advantage of everything he can while being locked up. My brother told me no matter what he’d do what he can to survive and make a way in there. He sometimes felt suicidal but there is counselors there to counsel him and get him back on track. He said some of the guards are crocked and some of them are really there to help people like him get through the time and go home without any troubles. He believes that medical and psychology part of the prison is great and he thinks they will help him go far and teach him things that he didn’t know to keep a stable mind to get out of there.
Nobody ever imagines spending that much time locked away from their loved ones when a simple mistake happens. But he told me as I was balling my eyes out not to worry everything would be ok. He was going to learn everything he could about law, put in a request for an appeal and take his case back to court to get his sentence reduced. I have faith in him because I know when my brother came home the first time he had his head on the right way. He had got a job and was spending time with his son. But like he said a simple argument caused him 15 years of his life. He also told me, “Remember nobody will push you harder than you can push yourself.”

written by: Shantavia Allen

image by: Kirt Edblom

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