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Self-portrait where words are used to create lines of facial features, hat and glasses
Illustration by Brian Hindson

Convict, inmate, sex-offender — go on, choose your label.

But there’s more: I was once young, now some call me old. I was fit, then fat, now fit again. I was once free, now I’m in prison. I was looked up to, then I wasn’t.

There are a lot of words to describe who I once was, things I’ve been, things I’ve done.

I won’t defend my past. I won’t make excuses. I said in my allocution statement at my sentencing that I would lead the second half of my life better than the first. I said I would prove myself by doing better. I stand by that.

All of the words in my self-portrait are descriptors of me. Things I’ve been called. Good and bad. Jobs I’ve done. Relationships I’ve had. All of them — and I’m sure many, many more — can be included. All of the pieces are part of me. Not one of them by itself defines me.

I know people can change. Are you the same person you once were? Don’t let one label define you. Right now I’m an inmate, but in the future I’ll be called an ex-inmate.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Brian Hindson is an artist whose favorite styles of work are impressionism and pop art. His work is published on the Justice Arts Coalition. Hindson is incarcerated in Texas.