Kwesi Salih is serving more than 50 years in prison for the murder of a woman who was in a car that Salih and his friend tried to carjack.
“I didn’t think how my actions could take another person’s life. You know, I live with that every day of my life now,” said Salih who spoke over the phone from Stafford Creek Correctional Center in Aberdeen, Washington.
He says the crime he committed was almost inevitable. Growing up in the 1980s in Southern California, he was caught up in a great big machine that consisted of poverty, drugs and racism that put him at a disadvantage from the very beginning.
“In the neighborhood that I grew up in, it was rough. A lot of destruction, a lot of violence, and a lot of drugs. I started selling drugs myself probably when I was 9 years old, carrying a firearm. It was a way to survive,” said Salih.
For almost 15 years, Salih’s life in prison was a continuation of the life he led on the streets. Violence and retribution were routine.
Then, Salih decided it was time to make some changes. He found stability in education and religion. He also realized that, even though he’s behind bars, he can have a voice that matters in the outside world.
In this story, hear how a program that Salih watched on television in prison led him to participate in a government organization that helps oversee reforms within Washington State’s criminal justice system.