By Ebony S. Muhammad
DETROIT (FinalCall.com) – The Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry workshop “Mandatory Sentencing and the Re-entry Dilemma: How Strong is the Foundation: Can We Survive?” drew approximately 100 attendees, and featured criminal justice experts that ranged from men who served sentences of 15 years to 43 years in prison to a criminal attorney at law.
Workshop facilitator Victor Muhammad, the Nation of Islam regional director of the Prison Reform Ministry in Michigan and 7th Region, which includes Florida and other points South, introduced the workshop’s purpose.
“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad didn’t go to jail for something he did wrong. Some of us are going to see these jail cells and are going to need this information; how to survive the prison and maintain our faith,” he said. Panelists included Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, Nation of Islam Student Minister Troy Muhammad of Detroit, Maurice Muhammad, Che’ X Daniels and Lasalle X Washington.
Each panelist shared a brief testimony Feb. 22 about their journey through the prison system and how they were able to acquire and hold on to their faith while serving years in prison. They are now giving back to others still incarcerated.
Afterwards, the panel took questions from the audience regarding mandatory sentencing and other law-related issues.
Che’ X, who served 15 years in prison, shared how at age 16 he was shot in the back of the head twice and left for dead. He lived, returned to a violent life and went to prison. He was also functionally illiterate, but learned to read.
“When I was given the books of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I felt like those books were written especially for me. If you can’t read, you can’t refute anything that comes to you,” he said.
Lasalle X, who served 43 years, shared that while in prison in 1967 the men in Detroit ran the prison. He was introduced to the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. “I was released in 2011, and I became a helper in setting up over 30 study groups in prisons,” Lasalle X stated. “It was only through the Teachings I was able to survive.”
Student Minister Troy Muhammad shared his testimony having served 13 years in prison. “If you don’t have an agenda, you’ll fall victim to someone else’s agenda,” he told the audience. “At that time I was exposed to other Black males such as Abdullah Muhammad who made me know that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan was interested in the men and women behind bars,” he added. Abdullah Muhammad heads the Nation of Islam’s National Prison Reform Ministry and visits inmates all over the country.
Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz stated, “Since transitioning from being chairman of the New Black Panther Party, I’m where I have to be, which is on the front line. It made me a fighter for Black people.”
“If there’s any group in America to do strong advocacy, all the way up to federal level, it would be the Nation of Islam. There’s a lot of credibility between N.O.I. and , the prison population,” he said.