Ian Manuel is a truly inspiring soul. He’s a spoken word poet who’s messages is the impossible is obtainable. When I first met Ian, he was on stage delivering some of his spoken word poetry, and when I talked to him afterward, he shared with me something that I could see in his delivery. He said, “God has given me the gift to compose words in ways that move people.” He had plenty of time to practice cultivating that gift while he spent a 26 year prison sentence, 18 consecutive years in solitary confinement, for a crime he committed at 13 years old. He received life in prison without the possibility of parole. In this interview, we talk about the crime that landed him there, how he confronted his victim, and why, what she said and did and continues to do.
Very, very remarkable. And the final thing here, and we talk about this briefly toward the end, but it’s a theme I think that runs throughout, is this idea that our traditional justice system is oriented toward punishment where a restorative justice system is or would be oriented toward healing. And that was a concept I had no notion of more than two years ago. It’s one that I have really enjoyed learning more about. It was kind of invisible to me. I hope that if you’re not already familiar with the concept of restorative justice, that this interview opens your eyes and your mind to the possibility of something that would serve us as a society in a far greater way than what we’re currently doing.
00:02:27 – What’s life about?
00:07:12 – Life sentence at 13 years old.
00:19:41 – Solitary confinement.
00:25:14 – Preserving strength while in prison.
00:40:00 – Forgiveness.
00:43:35 – Writing his book.
00:50:04 – Reentry process.
00:54:15 – Lightning round.
01:00:12 – Creative process.
01:08:03 – Poem: Every Time I Breathe