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Death Row Inmate Tyrone James Writes Essay On Absent Fathers, Family And Restoration

Death Row Inmate Tyrone James Writes Essay On Absent Fathers, Family And Restoration

Death Row

Tyrone James (Facebook / The Death Row Soul Collective)

“Death is final.” One victim’s daughter uttered these words to one of the men convicted of killing her mother when she confronted him in court. It’s also something death row inmates know all too well as they await the day their life will be taken as punishment for the crimes they are convicted of.

The Death Row Soul Collective is seeking to change that by shining a light on the humanity of death row inmates. Its mission is “to illustrate through art, words, and activism the HUMANITY on Death Row and through the long time incarcerated.”

The platform provides death row inmates – whether they’ve admitted guilt or claim innocence –with an outlet to express themselves on various topics. On Jan. 8, Tyrone James did just that.

James, 44, is incarcerated at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in New York. According to a petition for clemency created by his family on Change.org, James was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in 1995. Just 16 at the time, James’ family said he was “causing a distraction” while a “greater crime … was committed.”

He has served 27 years of a 30-years-to-life sentence.

In an essay shared on Facebook, James spoke about the impact absent fathers and broken families have on children, particularly young Black and Latino men. He also called on men to be better stewards of their families and communities so restoration of healthy and happy households can occur.


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James transparently shared how losing his father to murder at an early age placed him on the pathway to prison.

“My Father was murdered when I was 12. My Mother was left on her own to take care of 3 children. Our Family foundation wasn’t broken, it was just incomplete,” James wrote. “My Father was truly the man of the house and he made sure that my mother didn’t have to work. He made sure that we always had. … My Mother was lost for a minute after the death of my Father.”

“Losing my father really messed me up and it played a significant role in what my future would look like, and what I would become,” he added.

James also noted how critical a father is to the foundation of a family and how detrimental it is when one loses him.

“When a Family foundation falls, the Family begins to deteriorate in ways that are not visible. I’m talking about mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and financially,” James continued. “As I write this, I’m thinking of the Families that are suffering and struggling to survive. Families without Fathers, but what is a Family without a father to teach, provide and protect what gives him substance?”

He called on men to be more, do more, make better decisions, and teach their families to do the same. Doing so would help improve the condition of families overall, James said.

“If we as a people focus more on Selflessness, Love, Commitment and Family our union will be strong. Our foundation will be strong. The structure and foundation of the world will be all about family and not based on selfishness, personal gain, the rich standing on the backs of the poor, the color of your skin and what religion you are,” James wrote. “The world would be a better place, if we learn how to Value each other, Respect and Love one another. We must learn how to be human, and it starts in the household. It starts with Family.”

“I do wish that us men can truly educate ourselves on Loving ourselves, Family and being honorable men who provides, protect, and support our women. If we don’t do this then Family will have no substance and, or a foundation,” he continued. “The relationship between the man and the woman (Father and Mother) in the household would be stronger, if men would be just men and the true teachers of our children. Our children will be raised properly and not according to the standards of society, or by the conditions of how we live.”

He ended his essay by encouraging women and apologizing for many men’s failure to reach the mark.

“I want to say to you women: To You Beautiful Strong Woman Kings, you are Priceless. You Deserve and are Worth more than you can ever imagine. The world, life and us men revolves around you,” James said. “I apologize to you for all that us men put you through, and I hope and pray that someday soon you’ll open your eyes to truly see your Worth and who and what you truly are.”