I am a Washington, DC-based documentary filmmaker and multimedia artist. I have never been incarcerated, and growing up I did not have family or close friends who had done time. But about 7 years ago, I walked through the gates of a youth jail just outside of DC as a volunteer, and when the metal gate closed behind me, that momentary yet visceral experience of confinement led to what has become my life’s work. My practice bridges art, storytelling, and advocacy. I recently completed production of a documentary film called Becoming Free, which looks intimately at the experience of three young adults coming home from prison after years or decades behind bars during the critical transition from youth to adulthood. Over the past 9 months as one of the inaugural art and social impact fellows at Halcyon Arts Lab, I have explored new, collaborative, sometimes disruptive ways to amplify the voices of those whom our system of mass incarceration renders invisible.
Halim A. Flowers
I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. during the crack era, pre-gentrification, when the nation's capital was the murder capital. I am 37 years old, and I have been incarcerated since the age of 16. I was convicted of aiding and abetting a felony murder, while my co-defendant had all charges dismissed against him. I was sentenced to 40 years to life imprisonment. I am not innocent, and I am not sure how to quantify a number of years to equate to the unjust loss of a human soul. My life is a poetic actualization of repentance.
I have published 10 books that I use for my outreach work with at-risk youth in society and to heal others outside of the confines of prison. Last year, the DC City Council enacted the "Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016," a law that provides a process for juveniles who received life sentences and have served at least 20 years behind bars to seek resentencing and release. I will have a hearing this year under the new law. Is my sentence just? I cannot say with certainty. My humility and love for humanity only concerns me with doing the work of embodying the compassion and love that I want to see at work in the world.
I am human. Can you see me as such?