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IMAGINE. . .

you are in prison for a crime you didn’t commit. You’d probably be angry at the system that convicted you. You’d certainly be scared, especially if you didn’t hang with tough folks when you were on the outside. Over time your life would become routine. Get up at the same time every day. Lights out at the same time every night. The hours in between the same, the same, the same – unless the monotony is broken up by a fight or some less violent distraction. You’d eat pretty much the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch. Dinner would be different every day of the week, but the same thing every Monday and the same thing every Tuesday and so on and so on and so on. Maybe you’d read a book or see a movie, but your life would be routine.

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Sometimes you might get a visitor and that can be good or bad. Good to hear news from home. Bad to be reminded that you’re innocent and in prison, missing out on birthdays, graduations, holidays – all the good times with the family and friends. You probably thought your family could bring you something tasty for your birthday, like a cake or cookies. Well they can’t. You thought your mother could bring you flowers for your birthday. Well she can’t. Everything that comes inside the prison is either prison issued or prison approved.

You try to find ways to break the monotony. As each year passes it gets harder and harder to hold onto hope – the hope that someday you’ll prove your innocence. You hold onto your humanity as best you can. If you have a talent for cooking, you learn how to turn grapefruit and jolly ranchers into wine.  If you’re artistic, you might fill your wall with sketches of your memories of the outside. If you’re a poet, you write. Whatever it is, you find something in yourself that will help you face each day and keep your hope and faith that one day you’ll be free.

“Pruno, Ramen, and  a Side of Hope” is a collection of stories from people who have been wrongfully convicted; innocent men and women who eventually proved their innocence and were released from prison. They share stories of times in prison when art and music reminded them of better times, when poetry lifted their spirits, when food or a meal was the hero.

The stories are poignant, hilarious and heartbreaking, and they let us see inside America’s prisons from a new perspective. A large portion of the net proceeds from the sale of the book will be shared with the exonerees whose stories are featured in the book and with non-profit organizations that provide appellate defense services to the wrongfully convicted or that provide post-exoneration services to exonerees who receive no restitution or support from the state.

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