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Episode 53 — Emile DeWeaver — Life After Murder: On Fear, Freedom, and Identity

Summary

At the age of eighteen — just before the birth of his child — Emile began serving a life sentence for murder. In this episode, Emile tells us how he came to face the fear that drove him to kill a man, and which followed him into prison. He shares how he learned to love himself and see through an identity that might have otherwise imprisoned him in yet another manner. After finding inner freedom, Emile eventually wrote his way out from behind bars as well: his sentence was commuted in 2017 after serving twenty-one years, a testament to his journey and transformation. "I am under no illusions, right? I cannot make amends to the man I killed. I cannot make amends to his family. I still need to be a north star, right? In my world, in my life. So I can spend my time hating myself, [or] I could spend my time helping to create a world where little kids don't kill other little kids."

Show Notes

At the age of eighteen — just before the birth of his child — Emile began serving a life sentence for murder. In this episode, Emile tells us how he came to face the fear that drove him to kill a man, and which followed him into prison. He shares how he learned to love himself and see through an identity that might have otherwise imprisoned him in yet another manner. After finding inner freedom, Emile eventually wrote his way out from behind bars as well: his sentence was commuted in 2017 after serving twenty-one years, a testament to his journey and transformation. 
 

“I am under no illusions, right? I cannot make amends to the man I killed. I cannot make amends to his family. I still need to be a north star, right? In my world, in my life. So I can spend my time hating myself, [or] I could spend my time helping to create a world where little kids don’t kill other little kids.”
 

About Emile:

Emile is a queer, African-American activist whose life sentence in prison was commuted by California’s Governor Brown after 21 years for his accomplishments while in prison. While in prison, he was a culture writer for Easy Street Magazine; he co-founded Prison Renaissance, and despite the criminalization of organizing in California prisons, he covertly organized in prison to pass legislation that changed the way California treats juveniles in its criminal legal system. Emile is a widely published journalist, essayist, and literary writer. His credits include pieces in San Francisco Chronicle, TruthOut, Colorlines, and the Brennan Center. Emile is available for talks, panels, and workshops on the following topics:

• Power in the Criminal Legal System
• Media in the Criminal Legal System
• Three Principles of Creating Miracles

What We Discuss in Episode 53:

03:51   Emile’s relationship to fear — rooted in a culture of hyper-masculinity and violence — throughout his childhood and early adolescence.

14:53   How Emile came to the decision to write his way out of prison.

19:13   Finding self-forgiveness after murder and redirecting energy to make a positive impact.

25:51  The psychological experience of solitary confinement and how what happens in prison is mirrored in society at large.

31:00  The freedom and power of choice in the face of fear.

41:58   Why welcoming all emotions and aspects of yourself creates the path to an overarching sense of peace and joy.

**Full transcript can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/AoAEpisode53

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