Shaka Senghor is a convicted murderer, but he is much more than his prison label. He is also an author, a mentor, a speaker, and a father among other things. His conviction, at age 19, isn’t where his story begins, but a fraction of his journey to the man we see today.
Out of his 19 of years in jail, seven of those years were spent in solitary confinement. In his Ted Talk: Why Your Worst Deeds Don’t Define You, he states that “solitary confinement is one of the most inhumane and barbaric places you can find yourself.”
While in solitary confinement, he was subjected to abhorrent conditions such as only three showers a week, one hour of recreation, and surrounded by a staggering amount of mental illness. His saving grace was literature and writing which lead to the creation of his newest book.
Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison is a memoir of Senghor’s time before and during prison. It recounts his childhood abuse and growing up in a volatile community through his enlightenment to be more than a statistic. The book is a reflection of a man who is more than a label. He is more than his transgression. He is redeemable. He is human.
Senghor is an advocate for prison reform and a voice of Cut50, an initiative to cut the prison population in half by 2025. He is also the co-founder of Beyond Prisons. According to Ebony Roberts, prison reform advocate, Beyond Prisons’ goal is to, “humanize this problem of mass incarceration so that people are seeing faces. They’re seeing real people and not just a prison number or not just statistics and data, but that they actually do see the real stories of people that are impacted by the prison industrial complex.”