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April 6, 2023

Breaking the Chains!

Breaking the Chains!
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In this episode of Bloody Angola: A Podcast by Woody Overton and Jim Chapman we bring you an amazing interview by our friends at TheP2P Podcast (Penitentiaries to Penthouses)

At 16, Kiana was convicted & sentenced to 2 life sentences without parole. While physically he was incarcerated, mentally he was FREE. Resilience is his name and after 17 years of living in the can God made a way for him to be in physical freedom.

#formerlyincarcerated #prisonstories #redemption #secondchances #bloodyangolapodcast #woodyoverton #jimchapman #truecrime #realliferealcrime

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Jim:Hey, everyone, and welcome to Bloody Angola. A podcast 142 years in the making. The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. And I am Jim Chapman. Woody Everton cannot join us today. He is on assignment. But we're bringing you something different today. We did a two-part series, if you haven't checked it out yet, it's called Second Chances. It features a former inmate at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He was actually the first juvenile released when the Supreme Court passed a law making it possible for juveniles who were sentenced to life in prison without parole to get a parole hearing after 25 years. If you haven't seen that episode yet, go check it out.


This week, we have a very special episode. The guy we brought you the story of and who actually joined us for the two episodes of Second Chances, we met through our friends at Penitentiaries 2 Penthouses. It's a podcast known as P2P, and they interview formerly incarcerated people that are doing well as they acclimate back into society. When we did the Second Chances episodes, they were a big part of that, certainly a big part of making the introduction to the gentleman that came on the show. So, thank you so much to P2P.


And they have an amazing podcast. So, we have decided that we're going to bring y'all one of their episodes and we're going to share it on our feed. We thought y'all would really enjoy it. We have some really, really big stuff about to pop off for Bloody Angola. I know that y'all are going to be real excited as we go through that process, but I think y'all will love this episode. It is with a gentleman by the name of Kiana Calloway who was in Angola for a very long time and has quite a story that you need to hear or that you will enjoy hearing. 


Without further ado, here's the P2P Podcast in their interview with Kiana Calloway. 


[P2P theme]


Scott:Welcome, everybody. This is Scott with Penitentiaries 2 Penthouse Podcast. 


Shane:Yes, sir.


Scott:I'm your host. To the left of me, we got Mr. Beatty.


Beatty:Your best friend in real estate. 


Scott:To the right of me, we've got our guest, Mr. Kiana Calloway. 


Kiana:Swag out. What's happening? 


Scott:Special gentleman he is. And then, we got my partner over here to the left, Mr. Shane Johnson. 


Beatty:Big Shane.


Shane:Yes, sir. 24 years successful now. 


Scott:There you go. We look forward to digging into today's message. Kiana, man has a powerful story. How I know Kiana is we work on a project together through the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana. Basically, that's nonprofit organization full of attorneys and policy people who march down to the state capitol every year.


Kiana:Shoutout, JAC.


Scott:JAC. And they do legislative work, so they propose bills, work with lobbyists, senators, representatives to pass criminal legal reform bills. The specific focus though is usually expungement legislation. For those of you who don't know what expungement legislation is, expungements are the things that guys like myself, Kiana, Mr. Shane over there need once we come home for opportunities. Whether it's employment, housing, life insurance, you name it, there's hundreds of things that we get denied for on a regular basis based on the fact that we made some mistakes in our lives and we've paid our time, we've paid our debt, and we're trying to get past that. 


So, the work that we're doing revolves around expungements. A, changing expungement law, but B, getting the knowledge and information out there because the average Joe that comes home from prison-


Kiana:Don't even know about it.


Scott:-don't know about expungements, don't know how to go about getting expungements. Furthermore--


Shane:I am one.


Scott:Yeah, exactly. And they're expensive as hell. You could easily rack up if you have multiple felonies, several thousand dollars just in paying the state, the district attorneys, and the clerks of court's office, not even including legal counsel. That's the work that the Justice and Accountability Center does. Me and Kiana are working on a project to get the expungement app through Justice and Accountability Center, the information there out. So, we're going to be traveling, presenting workshops, getting the information out there so that people can access expungements equitably.


Kiana:Plug in, man, we're going to be in your areas very, very soon. Just being able to alleviate one of the collateral consequences that come after incarceration, I think that we're doing our part. And we'll be doing ourself a disservice, God, if we're not traveling, educating people about the work that we're putting in the state capitol. Keeping them informed that there's issues that you can get plugged into, but you just need to reach out. We can't do this in our silos. It's an honor to have run into a like-minded brother that's putting in work outside the bars because you are what you do, even when the camera is not on. [chuckles]


Scott:Yeah, for sure. It's easy to look good on camera. It's harder to make it happen on the outside. But that's what I like to do. I'm just passionate about-- and just like you, passionate about making sure that people have opportunities, man, because I was given opportunities and I've had a lot of challenges, man, and I just want to see people be able to breeze through that process instead of getting caught in the hiccups.


I do want to highlight a very successful human being today. As I said, I had the fortunate privilege of watching Kiana's documentary that's coming out real soon on a very, very national level. I told him today, and it's hard to get me to break down. And I told him, man-- [Shane laughs] Man, I watched it, dude, and they had some parts in it, I was just like [inhales deeply] and it'll really hit you. 


He's had a very, very challenged life, a lot of injustices, and I'm going to let him explain that. A lot of people see the part of the justice system that WAFB, whatever your local news channel post out there about people who commit crimes and their wrongs or whatever, but they don't talk about all those mugshots that they post where guys really didn't do what they were being accused of.


I'm going to let Kiana take it from here, but if you don't mind, could you just kind of share a little bit about your upbringing and then what caused you or what led to the prison? And then we'll just kind of take it from there


Kiana:Well, actually, the system led me to prison. 




Kiana:We have to understand that the system was built to do exactly what it's doing. People say the system messed up. No, it's not messed up. It's doing exactly what it was scripted to do. We must always bring that energy back into the space. Just so happened that I have been resilient enough to really surpass the test that the system has caused upon my life. I've seen individuals in the same space, same situation, same cell, and six months later, they hung themselves because they can't handle the stresses or the traumatic expressions about being, one, either fomerly accused and convicted of a crime, or, two, just trying to figure out, like, "Man, is this my life? Is this what I'm supposed to be?" Not to get too deep into that, because my documentary, it basically shows resiliency. It shows the true test of time. Like, you can go through these hard spaces, but you have to be prepared to bounce back because everybody bounces back. 




Scott:What you're referring to is the school-to-prison pipeline? 




Scott:Okay. Got you. 


Kiana:Everybody bounces back. 


Beatty:Explain the school-to-prison pipeline. 


Kiana:School-to-prison pipeline. Okay, I'm going to give it to you in layman terms. 


Beatty:Let's go. I am layman.




Scott:That sounds like a good movie title. 




Beatty:I am he.


Kiana:Okay, definitely. So, school-of-prison pipelines. I went to prison at 16 years old. If I was tested in the second or third grade and I read below a certain level, they built another cell for me. Just the way that it planned out, I ended up in that cell, that school-to-prison pipeline. If we understand the way that our America is functioning, three main attributes of human survival. Education, travel, and should I say-- I'll throw manufacturing and the building. Planes, the way planes first started, it crunk up, but now the evolution of planes is that it just takes off. They could probably put it on autopilot, ain't got nothing but to do the landing. And it's crazy, man. The car, it crunk up. Now, you pushed on. Why? Education is still the same. You sit in a single-file line. They teach you ABC, one, two, three and it never gives the whole individuality of the person. 


So, when we speak about school-to-prison pipeline, I walked through a metal detector when I was going to elementary school. If this is an educational institution, they should be focused on my education and not my protection or not my apprehension in so many different ways. We learn how to stand in a single-file line, walking to child hall, cafeteria. What did you do? You stood in a single-file line, and you walked to the child hall. I understand the level of control, but that's how institutionalized that we can be. People never have been to prison and are more institutionalized than someone that spent 50 years in the junk. 


Beatty:Concrete walls, fluorescent lighting. 






Beatty:White, blue. 


Scott:Light blue. I guess to give that short synopsis of school-to-prison pipeline, at a young age, you experienced that-- we all do-- 


Kiana:It's a program. 


Scott:And then, which eventually led to? 


Kiana:Even since those days of single-file lines, straight line education, as today, we pump 72% of our state's budget into incarcerating someone instead of the education precinct. Only 13% or sometimes 7% of the budget goes to the adequate education of our youth. That shows the level of, should I say, support--




Kiana:Dependence, codependence, any word that we want to put into that space, because we must understand that it's systems that we're dealing with. These systems that we're dealing with has to be dismantled and it has to be dismantled from the inside. Scott just said that we have the privilege of working on the new task force, the Safe and Alternative Task Force, which is a governmental task force that was structured through last year's legislation, which gives us the opportunity to properly plan the effects of not only expungements, but the use of solitary confinement inside of our jails and prisons in the state of Louisiana.


And sitting at these tables with the state attorney, with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Department of Corrections, I really start to understand that we are the experts in this field. Like, people are holding these positions and really don't know.




Kiana:They really don't know the outlook of putting a face to incarceration. That's what we need to try to understand. Who are we incarcerating? How can we lead the nation in crime, but we have--


Shane:The highest incarceration rate.


Kiana:Yeah. Let me kind of bring this back. How can we be less in the nation in education, but highest in the nation in crime and incarceration? 


Scott:Going back to you being sentenced at a young age or going to jail or prison at a young age, can you share with us what happened and then jump into your experience? 


Kiana:I'm going to XYZ it because a lot of it is in the film.


Scott:Yeah, don’t spoil it.


Kiana:Yeah, I don't want to do a spoiler alert, but, man, I look at my life as not a needle in the haystack. Yes, I was falsely apprehended, falsely accused, falsely convicted, sentenced to two lifes without the possibility of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Was said in the trial for my life to be deliberated on, like, "You either going to get life in prison, or we're going to send you to death row." 




Kiana:This is at the age of 16, just making 17.


Scott:Swallow all that at the age of 16?


Kiana:I had to swallow all of that, and now I have the opportunity to regurgitate that because now my pain is turning into passion. It's turning into my why. That's why I love waking up every morning. That's why I love opening my refrigerator. That's why I love playing with my daughter. Shoutout to my baby mama. Shoutout to my fiancé. I definitely got to say, what's happening T? I love you. A lot of these things that's taking place right now, I wouldn't do it without you on my side. 




Kiana:Yeah, definitely throw that in the space. The evolution of life sometimes, like even riding up here today, I've never been to Denham Springs a day in my life, but it felt like an epiphany. Getting off of this bridge, making this exit, I'm like, "Dang, they got a Cane's right here." 




Kiana:I was tasting Cane's. It's basically trying to figure out, I am walking in the steps of my higher power, my divine energy. When I was laying in the cell, and I was like, "God, man, something got to happen." I woke up the next day, and I woke up the next day, and I woke up the next day. So, I'm looking at that right now, if we can kind of just think back to our prophetic literature that's in the books, and I'll say the Bible, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, that's the acronym that I placed on it. Inside of this book, they have stories of great men. I placed myself inside of these great men while I was in that cell looking at these cinderblock walls, I had a 55-inch TV, so I read the story of Paul. Paul was a gangster. Paul wrote probably 85% of the book. 


Scott:And he marked a whole lot of people. 


Kiana:Man, he was a gangster. Paul used to rob, Paul used to steal, Paul used to kill, Paul was taking lives. That's for me. Let me get that move around. 




Shane:He was more definitely--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:Move around, let me get that. Let me get that. Paul was incarcerated over 75% of his existence.




Scott:And wrote a good portion-- 


Shane:And he was a great man.


Kiana:Paul was incarcerated 75% of his existence.


Shane:He was a great man.


Kiana:He wrote books that stand the test of time till today. Prophetic hymns, metaphorical narrative that any culture can take and put it into their own existence. Every line, every piece, every scripture, every sentence, every dot, every comma means something. That's what we need to pay attention to in life. Every comma means something. If I had to trade my chicken plate so I could get on the phone, see people don't understand that type of narrative though. People don't understand that type of narrative. You see what I'm saying? 


Beatty:Tell everybody-


Scott:Tell the laymen.


Beatty:-what that means. 


Kiana:I spent 18 months in one of the most dehumanizing places that ever could have been created for a human being, and that was Camp J. 


Shane:Angola, Louisiana. 


Kiana:Angola, Louisiana. The Farm. Yes. So cooler one, cell 11. They got cell 10. Cell 11 was the last cell. They had a guy named Money that slept on side of me for 10 months. Every morning, he woke up singing, [in a singing tone] "It's been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change gon' come." 


Scott:Is that Money from RCC? 


Kiana:No, not that Money. This is the old Money--




Kiana:Yeah, I know who you're talking about. Money name was Alfred Baker. When I went to Camp J, Money had all been in Camp J for like 14 years at this time. 




Kiana:He got caught up-- [crosstalk] in that same cell. In that same sale. That's why I fight for solitary confinement today. 


Scott:Talk a little but about that, because I did hear you'd mentioned about solitary confinement kind of messed you up, so make sure touch on that. But solitary confinement, man, you'll go crazy sitting in--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:I've seen it. 


Scott:How did it affect you? 


Shane:Hold on. Chicken for the phone.


Scott:Oh, yeah. 




Shane:Keep us on point right there.


Beatty:No. Are we talking trades? What are we doing?


Kiana:So here we go, we're talking trades. So, I was in Camp J. The man come down, shift change, 6:00 and 6:00. We know shift change. 06:00, man come down. "Who wants to use the phone?" Friday, what's on Friday? 


In Unison:Chicken. 


Kiana:Exactly. Who wants to use the phone? Everybody hands coming out the bar. "Okay. Let me get them plates. How many people are not getting the chicken plate?"




Kiana:Listen, I didn't talk to my-- 


Beatty:This is the guard?


Kiana:This is the guard.


Scott:He's trying to eat. 


Kiana:He's getting chicken so he could swing it on the other side of the town. 


Shane:You have to make an executive decision. 


Kiana:They got Joe's around the corner. So, you know it's a whole situation here. You only get one phone call every 30 days in Camp J at this time. 




Kiana:I haven't talked to mom then. This was in '98. My mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. You've seen the space, my mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn't know for like two and a half years that she was even-- She comes to see me one time, and her head was bald. I didn't know what was going on. 


Scott:Wow. She didn’t tell you then?


Kiana:She still didn't tell me. She just broke down crying. I'm like, "Baby, don't worry about it. We got this. I'm going to be able to give you your roses while you're still here." Shoutout, mom, she's still home. Every day, yes, I give her roses while she's still here. 


Scott:[crosstalk] -strong woman.


Shane:Big love. 


Kiana:As you can see, my life revolved around the strength of this queen, and it shows. I'm going to try to amplify that to the best of my ability. Shoutout, mom, I love you. Anyway, I haven't talked to my mom in like three months at this time. What's going on? Every time I call, now I know that she was going through chemo, so she didn't even want to get on the phone weary. So, I'm talking to my sister, I'm talking to my brother, talking to my nephews. I'm talking to everybody but mom. I know, I know something ain't right. Something ain't right. She never did this. I was blessed my entire 17 years. Well, I spent 17 years in prison as a result of that conviction and still have 17 years on parole. I'm currently on parole.




Kiana:Unjust. And currently on parole. Have 6 years remaining, been home 11 years. That was my main source of everything. Every month, Molly Diggs sent $100 to my account. Every month for 17 years. Man, if that's not a blessing, you know what I'm saying? Within itself because I used to take my $100 and split it down the middle so I could feed-- you were on the dome, you know what's happening.




Kiana:You know how'd that go. 


Shane:Believe me, I do.


Kiana:This work that I'm doing out here, this is work that was prophetically distributing and manifesting itself in a can. I love brothers, I love you. It's how we do this. It's work that we got to do. But I'd be damned if I trade my chicken plate again though.


Shane:That's right. 




Kiana:I'd be damned if I traded that chicken plate again. 


Scott:Since we're talking about solitary, man, if you don't mind just kind of sharing a little bit about, A, how it affected you, how long you stayed in solitary, and then kind of tell the folks out there what solitary does to the mind. Because I have my own personal experience, I spent 11 months in solitary myself, sitting in cells. But I want to hear your take on it, and then I'll kind of chime in with mine.


Kiana:Okay, so you want my professional take, or you want my personal experience? 


Scott:Personal experience.


Shane:Personal. And keep it for the who? Layman?


Beatty:Yeah, laymen, please. Name of the next movie,Only for the Layman. 


Kiana:When we're speaking about solitary confinement, let me put a definition to that first. Solitary confinement is a person placed in the one- or two-man cell for 23 hours or more without the ability of education, personal contact, air, exercise, everything that you are being deprived of. I'll just say deprived of all liberty and growth with no access to human contact. Basically, the first time that you are apprehended, when you get into a police car and they put the handcuffs on you and you go to a holding tank, let's call that solitary confinement. Some people may be placed in the cell with 14 people. Some people may be placed in the cell with two. Some people may be placed in the cell with one. Okay, so the effects of solitary confinement, what we're triggering here in Louisiana is the term "post-incarceration syndrome", and that is when a person who have spent a long time inside of any incarcerated state has mental transformations that may impede the normal ways of thinking.


Now, that's where the tunnel comes in. It could be a mental disorder. It could be some similar to posttraumatic stress disorder. You could deal with insomnia, you could deal with claustrophobia, you could deal with depression, you can deal with-




Kiana:-anxiety. There's so many different-- [crosstalk] yes. There's so many ways that you can kind of figure it out. So, when I first came home, I knew what I experienced personally. When I go to the bathroom, I take one leg on my [crosstalk] to take me a crap. Why do I do that? Because when I was in prison, I knew I had to be on guard at all times. 


Shane:All the time, every day. 


Scott:You can't stand up and fight with your pants down.




Scott:[crosstalk] -free access to move around.


Kiana:The thing about it is, when I came home, I still was continuing those traits until I realized, "Man, I could take my pants off. I could just slide them down right here. Nobody's going to come in the door and do me nothing." When I sit down to eat, my arm's on the table, and I'm doing what I'm doing because I know I got to be finished before this last dude is sitting down. That's a trigger for us. We all eat fast. 


Shane:I suffer from it right now.


Scott:I still do. I've been home nine years, and I eat faster than most people. I'm in and out like that. 




Kiana:So, I kind of compiled a lot of triggers that I identified as being posttraumatic effects of incarceration. 


Scott:From your stints in the cell blocks--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:Yes. Smell, sounds, certain things that I touch, certain things that touch me. Certain people that get around. I can't let nobody sit behind me while I'm in the car, if I'm in a movie theater. I can't go to a club. Like, a lot of those things were affecting me. During COVID-- this is when my father came into place. During COVID, I said, "You know what? The only way I'm going to understand my problem--" because I know it's a problem, but when I look around, I'm like, "Well, shit. What is normal? I'm not normal, but I see this dude here. He never been nowhere, but he more fucked up than me. He got issues. He got problems. You've been on here forever, and you calling me every day asking me for $20, $15, your daughter need shoes." 


Scott:Not Shane. 


Kiana:No. I'm just saying in general.


Scott:I just want to clarify in case--[crosstalk] 




Scott:Shane is a mooch. [laughs] Damn.


Kiana:Just kind of figure it out, I traveled around Louisiana, I talked to over 275 individuals, and we talked about anything from-- and all of them were formerly incarcerated people.


Scott:That's when 40--


Kiana:That's when 40 for 40 Worldwide came into, during COVID.


Shane:That's dope. 


Kiana:I knocked on doors. I took the camera to meet them where they were. We're going to talk about where you came from to become who you are today. Every individual that I talked to, they talk about every situation that I've experienced, situations that I may stumble across in the future. They gave me possible solutions that I could pull logic from. I'm like, "Damn, what can I do with this project? Okay, we're going to name it 40 for 40 Worldwide because I'm going to pull 40 of the most influential pieces out of this space, and I'm going to build a campaign in Louisiana that will allow people to come home and holistically heal." Whether it be through arts, whether it be through song, whether it be through poetry, whether it be through broadcast, whether it be through construction, whether it be through welding, whether it be through any mechanism, I feel we can do that as a channel. We can do that as a body of individuals. 


40 for 40 Worldwide was to amplify the voices of formerly incarcerated people that have been through horrendous events in their life while serving time, ultimately gaining momentum to build 40 other individuals in 40 other states to implement some type of federal legislation that will add people returning home from incarceration into a protected class. Because there are over 40,000 collateral consequences that stop you from getting a job, from going to school, from getting insurance, from going to real estate school. There's so much that hinders you. It seems like people returning home from incarceration is the only social group that America still has permission to openly hate. 


Scott:I got denied for life insurance. Can't even get life insurance. 


Kiana:You see what I'm saying?




Kiana:So, how can we humanize this space? In Louisiana, one out of every three individuals have been impacted by incarceration.




Kiana:And we right here, three out of five, I don't know if the cameraman has a buddy or sister or brother or even if he'd been to prison. 


Cameraman:I'm just lucky I ain't been. [crosstalk] 




Scott:Going back to the solitary thing, how long would you say in your 17 years that you spent just in solitary? Not in dormitories, but solitary. 


Kiana:Solitary confinement, out of 17 years, I've spent probably eight and a half. Close to nine. 


Scott:In solitary? Years? 






Kiana:In Camp J, I spent close to 19 months. That was just from 1998 to 2000. When I first made it to Angola, me being a juvenile, they put me in the cell, they let me out to go into the dog pen for a while, and that was basically for a year. After that, minor offenses, because now I'm a boy transforming into a man in the man institution.


Scott:You've got prove something.


Kiana:It's not really proving it. It's just making sure that they don't prove me. I'm not here to prove who I am. 


Beatty:Preventive maintenance.


Kiana:Yes. That's the type of person that I have been, is that I'm not here to prove that I'm a man. I'm here to prove that you're not going to fuck with me.




Kiana:You know why? Because much respect is given, much respect is required. That's how I walk in life. I can have a relationship with Shane, and I can have a relationship with Scott. At the same time, my relationship with Shane and Scott is going to be identical because y'all deal with me identical. You feel what I'm saying? I'm not going to differentiate anything dealing with any situation in life. When I first went to Angola, my first time in the field, they called me Looney Tune. My number was 372220, I'll never forget it. I was at the end of the line. We in a line of 375 people do stuff with tools on their hand, and every time that man look around, they was [mimicking a shotgun] because I'm in the back trying to keep up. "Man, that dude crazy. Come here, Looney Tune. They're going to shoot you." 


Scott:Oh, the guards [crosstalk] shotguns--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:Yeah, because I can't keep up with the hose. I got locked up, every day is my first out in the field, I can't keep up with the hose. 


Shane:What did you say, Deuce Deuce? 


Kiana:That mean they lined up in tools. 


Beatty:Okay. I knew that. 


Kiana:You're not that lame. 


Scott:For the viewers.


Kiana:For the viewers.


Scott:For the viewers out there that don't know, when you go to Louisiana Department of Corrections State Penitentiary, you go onto the field when you get there.


Kiana:You're picking cotton, man. 


Scott:Actually, we got Fat on here the other day, and he told his story about how they tried to make him go out there and pick cotton. 


Kiana:You're picking cotton, man, or you're going to ride like Fat.




Kiana:I'm telling you.


Shane:As a [crosstalk] you're the number one.


Cameraman:Camp J was so brutal.


Kiana:That they shut it down. 


Cameraman:Yes. They closed--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:I had a hand in that.


Scott:Talk about it. 


Kiana:I had a hand in that, man. So, it was a campaign. That was in 2013. 


Beatty:We're talking about the shutting down of Camp J if you didn't hear.


Scott:Camp J is solitary confinement at Angola.


Shane:It started in 2008. 


Kiana:Yeah. The campaign started in '08 but it actually got shut down in '13. Basically, man, just being able to lay in those cells and be like, "Man, this shit ain't right. I wish I had some people standing out fighting and fussing for me." When I came home, my first objective is, how can I get engaged? How can I get involved? What can I do? Man, I really would like to salute again. It's going to be a shoutout hour. You heard me shout out VOTE, Norris Henderson. Matter of fact, Norris's brother just got killed, man. So, we're going to lift him up, little daddy, man. Salute the little daddy. We lost a soldier. We lost a soldier, man. Definitely, I would like to give VOTE a shoutout in the space. They've been holding it down.


Scott:Long time doing fighting work that most people, A, don't want to do, but, B, they can't do. Those guys, all formerly incarcerated, are leading the pack on criminal legal reform work in Louisiana. They got their hands in every-- dang, every piece of legislation that goes in front of state capitol for--[crosstalk] 


Shane:They're built to do that. 




Scott:They just opened up the little building too, right? 


Kiana:Yeah, definitely this year. I was a volunteer for VOTE when I first got into the game. Like in 2012, 2013, we did a lot of work around restoring the voting rights for formerly incarcerated people in Louisiana. Act 636.


Scott:Then, they had a campaign to end solitary confinement in Camp J. 


Kiana:Well, no, this was kind of before. The Camp J space, I was on some freelance stuff. I partnered with The Village Keepers. That was the name of Jefferson Parish. I partnered with The Village Keepers, and they were doing some work around solitary confinement in Jefferson Parish. The work that I did toward Camp J was basically I told my story twice, how it was inhumane and how I laid in the cells and really like phantom and wondered if people were really out there putting in work. I didn't have the opportunity to speak at the capitol, but I knocked on some doors and passed out some flyers, got people involved, did a lot of work toward that end, but that was basically a backend thing because DOC was ready to kind of make amends with that space. Man, it was a dungeon.


Shane:[crosstalk] -reparation for people. 


Kiana:Yeah, it was hell. What they did in '08 was they shut down the Boot tiers in 2008, they shut down the Shark tiers. The Shark tiers, they were like cells inside of a cell. You've got the cells and then you had had the big old Boot that slammed-- boom, slamming the front with the little trace slot right there. That's all you had to really move around. In 80--


Scott:Wait, wait. 


Shane:In other states.


Kiana:Oh, yeah, definitely. 


Scott:I'm trying to picture my own experience in solitary. When I've been on it, it's a cell block-- Is it something different than that? I haven't been on Camp J--[crosstalk]


Kiana:This is the view. A lot of people may not picture this, but you can get it. If you're walking down the Beavers working cell block, imagine you take half of the hall out, where the cell doors are originally there, you take half of that tier out and you bring that out further with concrete blocks. Like a concrete steel block will come all the way out. On that concrete block, you have a steel door that slams, boom, with the [mimics locking]. You come through that door, and then you walk down that narrow hall, maybe halfway from here to like that door, and then the cells open and then you go on the cells. So, they lock the cells. 


Scott:So, they don’t rack them back--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:No, they don’t rack them back until they come to the cell and then handcuff and shackle you. Then, they come step out of that boot door and rack them back close, now you just in the space and then they open up the big door. 


Shane:In other states, states like Illinois and Chicago, Indiana, they call them two-door cells, because you have your first door, open that up. When they walk in, it's like maybe 6ft of space, officer walks to that cell, handcuff you, shackle you and everything and then leaves you out. 


Scott:Mind you, if something were to happen in your cell, whether it's medical or if you're sharing, I don't know how Camp J is, do they share [crosstalk] space?


Kiana:That’s one-man cell. 


Scott:If something was going down in the cell and not only are you behind bars, but you're also behind this barricaded force, you have no way of getting in touch with the guards to come, "Hey, I'm having a heart attack."


Kiana:Can't even hear you. 


Scott:They can't hear you. So, you're just left to die. A lot of people that are on Camp J are awaiting trials. Especially if they're high-profile cases and different things like that, they might not necessarily be guilty of the crime, but they're sitting back there and they can possibly die because, A, all types of things happen medically when they become incarcerated.


Kiana:Oh, man. They were coming through the walls. 


Shane:Breaking cinderblocks. 


Kiana:Coming through the walls. Busting through the walls.


Scott:Who was? 


Kiana:The inmates. They bust through, they could bust through the walls. 


Scott:They come get you? 




Scott:Oh, wow. 


Kiana:If they want you, they bust, they coming through the walls. I'm talking about there's so many times that they had to replaster the cinderblocks. 


Scott:So, they just going to get moles coming through?






Scott:How they getting through--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:You can use--[crosstalk] 




Scott:Oh, you're talking about the guy on the side--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:In 1998, they took the block-- you know in the cellblock, they have the flap where you put your stuff in there? You take that up out of there, and you can go through the wall. 


Scott:No shit. 


Kiana:Yeah, you can go through the wall. 


Scott:Dudes are getting jugged up.


Kiana:Going through the wall. 


Shane:Getting raped.


Kiana:Listen to me, going through the wall.


Scott:That’s wild, man. 


Kiana:Listen, man, that is a world inside of a world, man. So, being mindful enough, and that's what I mean by, you guys are survivors. I didn't acknowledge my self-worth. I didn't acknowledge my value. But I think my job now is to pump that into you guys, because y'all are survivors, and y'all are experts in the way that this criminal justice world is about to be reformed. We cannot continue to allow people to plan meals for tables that they never slid a seat under. How can you give me cheese and I'm lactose intolerant? I don't eat cheese and ice cream. I can't deal with that. But you're still putting that on my table, and you wonder why I got diarrhea. 


Shane:Because you just don’t know.




Kiana:You wonder why I got diarrhea. 


Scott:That’s a nice analogy. 


Kiana:You wonder why my communities are underresourced. I got to go find it. I can't buy toilet paper, so I'm going to come shit on your lawn. 




Kiana:I'm just trying to figure like that, because that's what we got to understand, man. Life is about who we are. We are life. We are the movers and shakers. We create every sphere, every business. Like the United States of America is a 501(c)(3) organization. It is a nonprofit. We bought into that. When we were born, our family signed our birth certificates and Social Security cards and put us into this entity. We have to understand, we need to pull control of that entity. Use our democracy, get out there and vote and put people in positions who have your best interests at heart.


Don't just come to my house [chuckles] and shoot me some sugar. And now I'm walking, I've got a banana in my tailpipe. I'm blowing up every time I go somewhere. It's crazy. And that's what we're allowing, that's what we have been allowing. And I hope that people understand that this work I do, I can't put a tag on it, bro. I do everything. I do reform. I do litigation. I do policy. I do programs. I do training. I hold peer support groups, like the same groups that we held inside with Project Detour. 




Kiana:Shoutout Project Detour. That was started in RCC. 


Scott:Turn around, show the back. Can you turn around?


Kiana:I could, but we're going to wait [crosstalk] shot at the end.


Beatty:We'll put that later. 


Scott:Like a whole baseball player. 


Kiana:Definitely, man.


Scott:He did homerun.


Kiana:But, yeah, this was an organization that we started in Rayburn, man, in RCC. 




Kiana:We started this in RCC, and we've seen the impact on the individuals on the tier with it.


Scott:RCC is Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie, Louisiana. It's a state penitentiary. 


Kiana:Yes. We've seen the impact on individuals on the compound, people that didn't give a rattin' ass about nothing. 


Scott:Give us an example of one of the guys.






Kiana:Yes. Reggie was in the block. As a matter of fact, Reggie is in Austin right now.


Scott:Okay. I knew he moved out there.


Kiana:Yeah, he's staying in Austin. I've seen him when I was on a fellowship with REDF. Shoutout, REDF, that's my accelerator teaching me how to turn my business into a business. Yeah, I needed that. Just floating on the wings, man. I want to say, yeah, man. Ooh. I did like 80 hours of training in like four days. But anyway--


Scott:Who is this?


Kiana:REDF Accelerator. 


Scott:Is that a program or a guy? 


Kiana:That's a program. My fellowship. I'm part of a fellowship. REDF Accelerator. 


Scott:Okay, cool. 


Kiana:So, yeah, definitely. Partnering with 18 other entrepreneurs across the state. They chose us out of like-- 500 employment social enterprises is what we're calling our business at this point. Just trying to figure out how can we figure out those key performance indicators, man, and make sure that double line bottom is on point. 


Scott:You said you ran into Reggie.


Kiana:Yeah, I ran into Reggie, man. And Reggie now is a photographer. He's doing some great work. 




Kiana:He's doing some great work, man. Reg is really holding it down. 


Scott:You ran into Reg at Rayburn.


Kiana:Reg was an asshole. 




Kiana:You know, Reg stayed in and out the blocks. Reg will fight. Reg will curse you out. Reg will jump on the free man. He'll end up on Snow when he's housing on Wind.


Scott:Snow is the working cellblocks. 


Kiana:Yeah. Shoutout Rayburn. But, yeah, definitely. Once we started Project Detour, started with Pat, Vladi, all of us was the board in that space. We've seen how Reggie-- there was countless other Reggies that was a part of that. We've seen a development in that space. Once we start showing them that they can take ownership in their own personal development, we've seen it, understanding that we're not just going to talk about Sigmund Freud and Eric Burns. We're not going to talk about the three personality traits. We know you understand what they are, but this is who created them and this is how they created them. And we can do the same.


Once we've seen that, built that brotherhood, and Reggie's turned from a writeup every week to a writeup and no writeups in two, three years. So, we see that it's working. We see that they start taking ownership and accountability for their own actions. Why can't that be replicated out here? 


Scott:That's what you're doing now.


Kiana:I came home in 2011, man. Project Detour was founded in 2013, once I figured out how business was supposed to look.


Scott:So, you came home in 2011. Tell us about your transition out, some of the challenges you had, and then let's kind of talk about all of-- this dude's got his hand in 100 different pots that he created. I'm not talking about pots that other people created that he's jumping into. He created those pots. So, let's talk about that. Tell us about the challenges you faced coming home. 


Kiana:I always was a smart guy, I could say. I know how to read and write. So, the challenges that I faced were systemic challenges because the physical challenges, I was able to maneuver around them. For an example, I came home on a Wednesday. Friday, I was working as a crane mechanic. Never touched a crane a day in my life. Don't know what a crane looked like, but I was hired as a crane operator. Riding down Fourth Street, turned down Engineers Row, see [unintelligible 00:45:21] "crane operators, hiring now. Crane operators, hiring now." I pulled into H&E. Shoutout to H&E Equipment. Pulled into H&E parking lots, sat down. One guy comes out, I said, "Hey, man, what do you do?" He said, "I'm a crane operator." I said, "What y'all operating?" And he said, "Man, [unintelligible 00:45:38] it's a walk 7200s, 41000s, 4000s." 




Kiana:I'm like, "All right, cool." 


Scott:I got that. 


Kiana:I go home--


Scott:I got my driver's license. 




Kiana:I just got my driver's license. I'm 34 years old, man, I just got my driver's license for the first time in my life. I'm happy. So, I go home, YouTube University. YouTube University. I jumped on YouTube.


Beatty:Shoutout to YouTube University. 


Kiana:Jumped on YouTube, man. Put in "manual to [unintelligible 00:46:03] 4100s, 41000, 7200s, 72,000s." They told me, man, like, "This is what you do. This is how you start it. This is how you grease your lines. Check your lines before you get in there." Next day, I went over there. I went back to H&E, filled out an application. Have you ever been convicted of a felony? I checked no. If I check yeah, they're not even going to talk to me. Right? 


Scott:Right. I don't blame you.


Kiana:Yeah, I check no.


Scott:I'm all for it. I support it. 


Kiana:I check no. They took my application that day, they called me back the next day. Actually, I was at the head, because minority crane operators are nine and void. 


Scott:High demand. 


Kiana:Yes, nine and void. Really, really nine and void. I ain't no shit about no crane. I know you can make $50 to operate the crane for 10 minutes. 


Shane:Yes, sir. 


Kiana:I didn't know that. $50 an hour, and you up there 12 hours a day, but you're only working for 10 minutes, 15 minutes. They called me, and I went in the next day. I had my nice shoes on, my suit, I'm job ready. I'm ready for this. I'm prepared. And that's what a man like-- you could start at 41? I'm like, "Yeah, I can start." He said, "Come on, let's go. We don't need the interview. I just want to see if you could do it." So, we went out there, I walked around the crane, looked up under it, popped the bottom where the lines were at. I always checked the grease lines. When I did that, said, "Hey, man, we're going to get you trained."


Scott:We got one professional. 


Kiana:That was basically all it took. I worked there for my first two and a half, three years.


Scott:Let me ask you a question. The no box on the application, that never came up?


Kiana:It never came up until my passion of what I wanted to do in life. It started really burning me because I started getting frustrated with waking up in the morning.


Scott:Working for somebody else?


Kiana:Not really working for somebody else. I'm not aligning myself with what I'm supposed to be doing. 


Scott:Okay, I feel you. I understand that.


Kiana:I'm making good money. At this point, I'm a crane mechanic. I went to training. I just started getting some things to really put me in a position to be this operator. But I'm waking up in the morning and I'm like--


Shane:You're not happy.




Scott:You don’t feel like you feel--[crosstalk] 


Kiana:I'm in the tool room and the conversations that I was having a year ago, I'm not having these conversations with these people. I'm not feeling it. I'm starting to see myself drift more into Project Detour, because now I'm starting to take my check, and I'm taking young kids in my community, and we go and get some chicken and sit under the park and talk for 45 minutes, asking them what they need. Now, I'm taking my check, and now I'm helping them get school uniforms and putting shoes on their feet and attending the football games and trying to help out with the coaches and talking to the students.


Then, I started actually getting in tune with the courts because a lot of my young brothers had records. I had to sign them off on my [unintelligible [00:44:53] because their daddy in jail and their mom out on drugs. So, I started seeing that I was needed in the space that I wasn't occupying. I was getting money. I'm straight. I'm driving a Range Rover, this is in '13, I got a 12 Range Rover, just came out, of BMW. I'm doing good. 


Scott:Bought by H&E crane money? 


Kiana:Yes, definitely. 


Shane:Mechanic money that is.


Kiana:But when you're not aligned with your values in life, man, you can have all the riches in the world, it's not going to sit right with you. It's not going to feel because right now, man, I feel I'm in the best place in my life that I have been in my life, and I look at every day as me getting better than I was yesterday, because my worst day out here subsides the best day I had inside of there. 


Shane:That's right. 


Kiana:It oversees, it just demolishes. 


Scott:From H&E, you just said, "Hey, look, I'm going to--" [crosstalk] 


Kiana:Yeah, I've got to go. I've got to start what I want to do. I want to start my passion. 


Scott:So, what was next? 


Kiana:So, Project Detour was next. Project Detour, full-fledged. Got the board, got the bylaws, got the policies and procedures in order, got everybody on the card. We just started doing a lot of mentoring in the city, and then I went back to school. Now, it's me running the organization, attending Delgado Community College full time. Shoutout Delgado. 


Shane:Big shoutout--[crosstalk] 


Scott:What’s their mascot?


Kiana:The Patriot. 


Scott:The Patriot. 


Kiana:Yeah, they're a patriot. 


Scott:Delgado Patriot. 


Kiana:If I got you wrong, shoutout Delgado. 




Kiana:Something like that a buccaneer or a patriot. But, yeah, definitely I'm getting my criminal justice degree. Actually, I have eight more credits that I need, so I'll be graduating next year. 


Scott:Are you still going right now? 


Kiana:Yeah, I'm attending SUNO right now. Shoutout SUNO. It's a lot that I'm doing, man. I'm trying to better myself in all aspects, not just my personal outside life, but my internal being. All of that comes into the space, and I don't think that I'm going to be fully, fully healed until I get exonerated. So, that's what I'm working on right now.


Shane:Fulfilling that passion, that burning desire. 


Kiana:I'm working with the district attorney now with Jefferson Parish. We've been having maybe a few meetings, a couple of meetings, and that's how I want to close the film with him saying, "Yeah, Kiana, we think that you have done everything that you've need to need to do in the course of your life, man, and we want to honor your wishes." [crosstalk] 


Scott:Are you working with--? 


Kiana:Paul Connick? 


Scott:No, the organization that does the--


Kiana:The Innocent Project? 




Kiana:Funny story about that, man. The Innocent Project, they don't work with individuals who's free. 


Scott:Oh, they only do incarcerated.


Kiana:Yes. That was a problem that I really didn't understand when I went to them, because, trust me, I probably ruffled every feather in the state of Louisiana trying to see what can I do, until I was just like, "You know what? Just keep walking in your purpose. It's not what you're doing, is where you're going." That's the overall piece of this entire synopsis, man. I think that's when I'm going to get completely holistically healed. Well, I could be able to get exonerated. I've done a lot of work and then once I get exonerated, I want to continue to be a force. 


Scott:I want to ask you this. I'm completely guilty of all the crimes that I committed. So, when I was in prison, I had to-- go ahead.


Beatty:Allegedly committed. 




Scott:No, I did all that. 


Kiana:He was convicted, so it's over. 


Scott:It's over. I was in prison, and I had to swallow the pill, "Okay, you've done a lot of dumb shit and I'm paying for it." But I can't imagine the mental that a person must go through in your situation that spent 17 years in prison and not have done the crime. Dude, I don't want you to go into great detail because I know, but what's the mental process for that? 


Kiana:It was basically piggybacking what you just said. I have done a lot of shit in my life. I wasn't a choir boy when I was out here. A lot of things that I didn't do, it shouldn't have amount to that sentence, that such severe sentence. But just being open minded, you can imprison me physically, but you can't entrap my mind, that was kind of like the cage bird sings. I strive myself on education because I was so uneducated sitting in this trial. Only thing I could understand is objection, overrule, sustained, objection, overrule, sustained. What does that mean? I know when they say that, the judge say something that counters what they say. So, I felt stupid. It felt like I was in Charlie Brown. [onomatopoeia] That's how my entire trial felt. And my trial was like nine days, the first one. Might I add that it was a non-unanimous jury? Shout out to the UJC. 


Scott:[crosstalk] -nonunanimous jury. You want to explain what that means real quick for our layman? 


Kiana:Yeah, for the laymen. Non-unanimous jury, I was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder, non-unanimously, meaning that 1 person out of the 12 said that I was innocent, saying that the state did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, which the law states that you should be judged by a jury of your peers and unanimously deliberated upon. Louisiana and Oregon were the last two states that upheld the non-unanimous jury pool, which means that 10 people can say that you're guilty, and two people can say that they don't believe that you're guilty, and you still can be sent to prison for life. And that happened to me twice. My first trial was 11-1. I was found guilty and sentenced to life. In 1998, with the great help of Christopher Aberle, my appellate attorney, shoutout Chris, He put together a wonderful brief, and my case was remanded and set aside for further proceedings.


I was sent back to Jefferson Paris, tried again for second-degree murder, and I was found guilty again. That jury deliberations were 10-2. Two people said this time that, "Oh no, he didn't do that." And 10 people said, "Yes." I was found guilty again on a lesser charge, which was manslaughter. They sentenced me to 34 years under Act 138, which gave me 17 years inside of a penal institution and 17 years remaining on parole. Honestly, we have right now currently over 5700 people that are incarcerated, serving life or high numbers on a non-unanimous jury. That PJI, shoutout PJI, Promise of Justice Initiative, they're working closely trying to get those individuals home on that. In 2018, I had the-- man, that was one of the peak campaigns in my existence. 


Scott:I do want to talk about the documentary that I had the fortunate privilege of watching.


Kiana: Kiana's Mission


Scott:Yeah, man. I said at the beginning of this podcast, it takes to make me cry. My wife would say different. She says I'm a big teddy bear. I don't believe that. I believe I'm a big lion. But I did, and I teared up and it touched me on multiple spots in the documentary. I want you to talk about that a little bit and then talk about 40 for 40 and then Roots. Just tell everybody about what inspired the documentary and how long you've been doing it. 


Kiana:Definitely.Kiana's Missionis a documentary, like I said a little bit earlier, it's a story about resilience. It's a story about overcoming the hurdles of life and coming out the end still feeling prosperous. I've been shooting this documentary maybe about-- what we in '22 now? So, maybe about nine years, having the ability to get introduced to a camera. When I came home, I learned that the camera is therapeutic, being able to sit down and tell pieces about you and not feel vulnerable, because eventually somebody may see this and it may help change their lives.


What I did was I just walked around with the camera with me all day taking basic photos, and then I was like, "You know what, bro? I think it's time that you start putting your life in perspective. How can you get your story heard?" Because everybody has a story. Not everybody makes it to cable. Everybody has their intention. So, just having the ability to be in a position to where my life work, it needs to be televised. So, I'm working with Roots of Renewal. Shoutout Roots. 


Shane:Shoutout big Roots.


Kiana:I'm the ED over there. 


Scott:What’s Roots? 


Kiana:Roots is a reentry organization geared to our young men, 18 to 26, reentering home from incarceration. 


Scott:Is that in New Orleans? 


Kiana:Yes, New Orleans. Actually, we're in three different parishes. We're in New Orleans. We're in Jefferson and we're in Terrebonne. Just being available for those young men. What we do is we purchase blighted properties throughout the city's area, rehab them, give the guys job skills so that they may be productive in the construction field if they choose to.


Beatty:That's awesome. 


Kiana:Yeah, definitely. 


Scott:They get any type of certification? 


Kiana:Yes, definitely. So, I pride myself on training.




Kiana:I think that we can't go through life without the proper tools. Once they come to Roots, what we do-- In the documentary, you can see that I have that camera setting up, interviewing my young men, because that's the first initial engagement. I want you to understand that I want to know how you were when you first came to me. And then throughout the middle course of this pace, we're going to do another one, just to do a recap, a summary on what you have done. I use the Poverty Stoplight method. Shout out Dr. Martin Burt. He's running for president of Paraguay. Man, I got you, you're my dog. I'm on your team. 


Beatty:You've got my vote.


Kiana:You already know. I was introduced to the Poverty Stoplight, Dr. Martin Burt, maybe in about 2017. 


Scott:Is he from New Orleans? 


Kiana:No. He's from Paraguay. 


Scott:Oh, Paraguay. That’s the country?




Scott:Where is that at? I'm geographically challenged. 


Kiana:That's like in the Middle East over there by Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, but not in that area. 


Scott:Oh. He's running for the president of that country.


Kiana:Of that country, yes. He's already the secretary.


Scott:Hey, my boy got president friends. 


Kiana:Yeah, definitely. I'm actually in his book. You could go check it outWho Owns Poverty. Kiana Calloway is in that space. He's a professor at Georgetown University. 


Scott:I'm going to get your autograph before you leave.


Kiana:Oh, man. I got some things--


Scott:[crosstalk] -now before you blow really big.


Kiana:I've got something on the horizon, man.


Scott:I bet you do.


Kiana:So, working with Dr. Martin Burt, we sat down, and he told me about how broke poverty down into six dimensions. Income and infrastructure, education and employment, housing and motivation, and integrity and insurance. It shows how we can put these indicators into a life map so that you can actually see what poverty looks like. Instead of feeling it, now you can see it. 


Scott:How does it work as far as showing the guys? Is it a progress chart or something? 


Kiana:Yeah, definitely. It gives back in data on-- it comes into the red, yellow, and green. What I did was I restructured that model because the way that poverty looks in Paraguay, it don't look this way in Uptown New Orleans.


Shane:That's right. 


Kiana:What we did was we developed the New Orleans spectrum, I'm the parenting hub here in the United States that had this data tool. Anyway, so what we did was we identified, if you're coming home from incarceration, it's practically like you're bankrupt. You're coming home after filing bankruptcy. You have nothing. Income, transportation, housing, internet access, a clean bed to sleep in, all of those are indicators of poverty, but we don't understand that, so when we come home--


Shane:And it's vital.


Kiana:Very vital. They're vital to you reentering, and they're vital to recidivism. If you start with Roots of Renewal in the 26 survey, and out of the 26 questions, you have 25 reds, we got work to do. Like, we got work to do. 


Scott:So, they fill out an assessment. 




Scott:And then, you track their progress based on that assessment. 


Kiana:As we work forward, the tools that they need.


Scott:[crosstalk] -red to yellow to green. 


Kiana:Reds to yellows to greens. 




Kiana:We try to achieve that in four months because Roots of Renewal is a 16 week job training program. Inside of that program, which Project Detour, is over the programming side of it, it gives personal development courses, financial literacy courses. It gives critical thinking, transaction analysis. We deal with the rehabilitation of the being because--


Shane:Of the individual.


Kiana:Of the individual. We need you to be in the right space if we want to send you to this job. So, we've got to help you build this resume. We partner with local construction companies throughout those areas so that long-term employment is definitely in the realms.


Scott:After the program.


Kiana:Exactly. Along with lifetime membership, alumni perks, because once you get in the Roots, man, you're a brother now. It's not that you just come through a program or a project. No, you got my seven numbers. You could call my seven numbers at any given time, and they do that right now. 


Scott:It's awesome, man. 


Kiana:Yeah, definitely. So, that's Roots of Renewal. I began to be the ED at Roots of Renewal in 2019. I started there as the programs manager, just dealing with the programs with Project Detour. I was contracted in through Amy and Brendan, who were the actual founders of this space, as the programs manager. I definitely just dealt with peer support groups. Like, how can we develop a curriculum that's going to show the impact of these individuals actually reentering? We got a non-recidivism rate of 98.9%. Only one brother, and that's Javelle. He comes home next month, I believe. Shoutout, Javelle, we got you when you get out here, man. Just trying to stay active, implying myself into a space the way I know that I'm desperately needed. 


Scott:Man, you're doing it. Also, an Instagram page that caught my eye that you also set up, and it's a project that you work on 40 for 40. Tell the audience about the 40 for 40, A, what they need to look up, and then, B, what prompted it and how that went.


Kiana:40 for 40 Worldwide. Definitely, man. Like I said, during COVID me, Durado Brooks-- Shoutout, Durado. Mark Kerry. Shoutout, Mark. We traveled Louisiana, man, and we had an opportunity of interviewing over 400 individuals that's formerly incarcerated. Over 400 formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs. A lot of these individuals have their own businesses, started their own businesses. We went to donut shops, we went to sandwich shops. We went to Twisted Wings, Twisted Burgers. We went out there while people were cutting grass and washing cars. Everywhere that they were, when we say we were in their space, we were pulling up on them for like an hour. We had the conversation, man. "Tell me what it's like after incarceration?" Man, the stories were beautiful. I just had to try to figure out how can we take that collage and turn it into power because our stories are powerful within themselves. 


So, during COVID, me, Durado, Mark, we sat down on the videos, we kept going over them. Actually, this year, I said, "Man, we need to do something with this. Let's drop a Black History Month project." So, that's where the Instagram came from. We drop one story every day of Black History Month-


Scott:For 28 days. 


Kiana:For 28 days, you're going to see 28, and we're going to do the same thing next Black History Month. We're going to try to replicate that. 


Scott:It's like an annual thing. 


Kiana:Yes. It don't make sense to just have it once. We correlated stories, we drop one every day, and we correlated these stories of impacted survivors today. If you could read the actual captions, we're putting them in the spaces of W. E. B. Du Bois. We put them in the spaces with Medgar Evers. We put them in the spaces with Fred Hampton. Like, we're putting them in the same energy to let them know that man, the narrative that our ancestors were speaking-- and I don't say ancestors, I'm talking like, 40 years ago, 50 years ago, 60 years ago. The same narrative that they were speaking, we're still saying that same narrative. I think that we need to wake up and understand, how can we put a face to pain? They went through a lot, but they're overcomers. They're survivors. 


So, yeah, go punch into Instagram, 40 for 40 Worldwide. If you are in any other state that has a jail, contact us, because we're coming into your state. 


Jim:All right. I don't ever do this, by the way. I normally sit back behind that camera unless I'm running my podcast. But I'm going to tell you what you inspired me--


Scott:What’s your podcast?


Jim:Local Leaders: The Podcast, Bloody Angola. I produce Real Life Real Crime with Woody Overton and got a bunch more coming out. I've listened to everything that you said, and inspiring. Inspiring shit. I'll tell you-- 


Kiana:Appreciate it.


Shane:Real shit too. 


Jim:Yes, exactly. What impresses me the most about you is you said something a few minutes ago. You give back a lot. A true leader gives back. We are raised in our lives to believe being first in anything is the leader, winning. No, giving back is winning. You have done nothing but have people-- in my opinion, people try to hold you down, and it seems like the harder you get held down, the harder you push back. And that's an innate quality. It's rare and impressive, man. I want to obviously shout you out for that. But I have one question. Before all this happened in your life, were you always someone that was resilient like that, just had that mindset? 


Kiana:In the film, that's the question I asked my mom, because when I went to prison at 16, when I was a boy, I thought as a boy, I acted as a boy, and I moved as a boy. When I turned into a man, I had to toss those boyish ways to the side. So, I forgot how I was before 16. But when I asked my mom that in the documentary, that's the very first sentence that I asked her, because I had to try to fathom, like, "Damn, where was I?" I have these memories, I have these ideas. I knew I was a dog in football, I should have posted in Florida State. They were looking to recruit me quarterback, wide receiver. I had a future. And I ended up in prison. When I asked my mom that, that's the first thing my mom said, "You always were resilient. You always were a leader. You got your ass whupped, broke a lot of fingernails, but you always were that leader." 


That puts me into this place that she felt that I was a leader, but I always knew that I was a great follower because I never tell nobody to do nothing that I wouldn't do. And that's with campaigns. I'm going to knock on doors. I'm not going to sit here and plan something, say, "Okay, you're going to knock on 100,000 doors. You're going to knock on 100 doors. You're going to knock on 60 doors. I'm going to knock on 700 doors."


Jim:Love it. 


Kiana:Because I know that just got to get done, and if I don't do it, it's not going to get done. 


Jim:Yeah. People would see you do that, and that's inspiring to them. I used to tell people, you want to be a great leader, find your broom.




Jim:Always. When you're leading other people, always show them what to do by doing it because if you're going to do it, if you own a company and you're out there sweeping the floor--


Kiana:They shouldn't have nothing to say about sweeping the floor. 


Jim:That's right. Find your broom, people. 


Kiana:Exactly. And that's the whole thing. A lot of people want to get engaged into anything dealing with life, profession, building. But first you need to understand is what is your why? Why do you do what you do? If you don't wake up in the morning and love where you go, you're going to hate yourself. 




Kiana:God gave us all something that-- He sprinkled in something inside of all of us that only you have, and that's what you can wake up and do effortlessly. Like, you come in here and set this up effortlessly. You could close your eyes and put everything in the space because you know that's what you have to do. And it's not an institution. It's not a program. It's because I know this. This is what I want to do. And that's what I feel like. My situation is not demeaning, I'm not angry, and that's the best thing about it. When I sit down with DAs and attorneys and sheriff officers and making these connections, they're like, "Well, why are you coming in here?" "No, y'all didn't do that. The system did this." What I'm trying to do is I'm trying to build a bridge to where this don't happen to another Kiana. I'm not mad at you. I'm not angry with you. I don't want to come home and be no disruptive person or individual. I want to come home, live my best life and see how can I be a preventative method for any other young, at-risk, black, underprivileged kid that don't have any resources, single-mother household, don't have to go through and endure the pain that I've had to endure. 


I'm a flagpole, I'm a model and I walk that space. I walk it like I talk it, and I'm in every space. I know, we could sit down and talk to the governor. I'm going to speak my mind. I'm going to tell him what I feel to believe is efficient in this area. But it's not my words. It's because my boots are on the ground. I have townhalls, I have community teaching sessions. I sit down and ask my community, "What do you want, need, and desire? Write it on a piece of paper. Let's figure out because we have people in position that that have our best interests at heart. If you don't voice your opinion, you will never know. Practice your democracy. Figure out who's running. Don't just put nobody in no seat because then the meal is going to go up. You know what meals are? That's your taxes."


Scott:Yes. Our society has feared putting people like Kiana in positions with power, political positions. And to be quite frank, these are the people that we need to be there to be a voice for the community. If you don't have somebody from the community, they're not going to be able to speak for the people.


Kiana:At all. 


Jim:That's right. And I for one, I'm glad you're not operating a crane no more.




Kiana:Me too. 


Jim:Because you're living in your gift right now, my brother. 


Scott:The whole purpose of the podcast is to do exactly what Kiana did today, is to highlight, A, the trials and tribulations. But, B, to really hone in on the success story. Kiana is the epitome of success, Shane's a success story in and of itself. I'm glad you were able to come today. 


Kiana:Man, I'm glad you invited me. We talked about it, and I'm like, "Get me in there." [crosstalk] -get started. 


Scott:We [unintelligible 01:13:39] recently at Mike Anderson.


Kiana:Mike Anderson. 


Scott:I told him I need to have him on. But, man, I knew a little bit about you, but now I know a lot about you, man. You're just an inspiring dude, and I can understand why you got a lot of guys in your area, just wherever you go, they look up to you, man, because you're just full of wisdom. So, keep on doing it. I appreciate your time for coming.  


Kiana:I appreciate you. 


Jim:I want to thank my boy, Scott, because I'm going to tell you what. It's the second week in a row-- you know Vlad? 


Kiana:Yeah, I know Vlad. [crosstalk]  


Jim:Second week in a row, he's had somebody come in and inspire the hell out of me.


Kiana:Knocked it out the park. 


Jim:I've got chill bumps both times. Just amazing people. Like you said, everybody has a story. My premise for Local Leaders: The Podcast is every business owner has a story, and I want to tell it, because that's a struggle when you own a business. Same thing with life. You don't necessarily have to be a business owner to have a story. 




Jim:And your story is amazing. I look forward to hearing this gentleman's story-- 


Scott:Shane is coming back. 




Scott:Tell them where you get that hat at, Shane?


Kiana:I got this hat at a free market on the West Bank of New Orleans. 






Scott:West Bank, the best bank?


Shane:Hey, man, look, before we close out, 24 years, that's how long I've done in prison. I'm going to say probably at the 15-year mark or the 16-year mark, I lived by this model. Starve my distractions and feed my focus. Now that I'm free, I live it even harder now because distractions are more because of my liberty. I have the liberty to go wherever I want to go now. So, the distractions are even more devastating because they come with a penalty. If I make the wrong choice or wrong decision--


Kiana:A harsh penalty. 


Shane:That's right. I go back, it was 100 years ago, to 1800s, and I live under the 10-2 law, the non--


Scott:Non-unanimous jury.


Shane:Jury all over again. I live by that, man, and I pride myself. That's a great man, Kiana [crosstalk] mentor. 


Scott:That was Shane's intro to his next podcast.


Kiana:Yes, sir. 


Scott:Stay tuned. Appreciate y'all watching today. 


Kiana:Appreciate you, man. Plug in. 




Jim:All right, so I hope y'all enjoyed that. What a story. This man still maintains his innocence even though he has been-- he served his time, he went back out into society and he maintains his innocence and is on a mission to exonerate himself. We'll keep you informed on anything that develops with that, but I hope you enjoyed that. You can follow P2P, Penitentiaries 2 Penthouses. They do a video version on YouTube, and they are also on every audio platform. You can just go to whatever your favorite audio platform is and search either P2P, and that's the number 2, P, podcast or type in Penitentiaries 2 Penthouses and it should pop up.


Can't tell you how much we appreciate y'all for listening. To all of our Patreon supporters, could not do it without you. That is just the facts. So, we really appreciate your support. We're going to be bringing you some amazing bonus episodes coming up. We just dropped one here in the last week only for Patreon members. If you're interested, it's $10 for the first tier and that'll get y'all our episodes with no commercials. From there, you can step up to our other tiers and with that, you get bonus episodes. When we do events, we're going to offer VIP access to those higher tiers. Also, we even do transcripts on there for some of our higher tiers. So, check that out.


Thank you so much. We love all of you. Until next time, I'm Jim Chapman and for Woody Overton, we are your hosts of Bloody Angola, a podcast 142 years in the making. The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. Peace. 


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