Portrait

6x8 Portrait is a research project that will explore the impact of mass incarceration on families in the New York City metropolitan area in a way that aims to trigger a national conversation on the topic. 

Takia “Judah” Parham Part 2: Prison and Bedford Hills

Takia “Judah” Parham Part 2: Prison and Bedford Hills

On how she ended up in prison 

“I was at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for five-and-a-half years. A year and four months, I spent at Jefferson County Jail in what they call Watertown. Originally how it started was…I was overseas in combat, because I’m a combat veteran. I was in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2008 to 2009. 90 days or a little bit more after I came back from combat, I got into a car crash. I was deteriorating, and my unit, they knew it. So I went to therapy. Then I got into a car crash, and I was already injured previously. My back was injured overseas. And then after the car crash, it was a little worse. And I accidentally overdosed on the medication they had been giving me. And I was so depressed at the time that…well, it really wasn’t overdosing. I took too many—I took two—that was it, one too many. I was already in a depressed state, so it just furthered that affliction. I was admitted into a hospital—the Soldiers and Sailors Hospital—in the psych ward and was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder.

But it wasn’t verified yet. A week later, I came out and went back to work. Two weeks after that, allegedly I committed a crime with another soldier who was my superior officer and had been harassing me and sexually forcing herself on me. At the time, I didn’t have a choice but to submit to the influence of that officer. And I did. And it ended up being eight months not only of discomfort, but it cost me eight years of my life. 

From Jefferson County Jail, I ended up at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for five-and-a-half years. I just got out five months ago, on December 29.”

On her experience at Bedford Hills

“I had spent 14, almost 15 months, not myself. I had to go through therapy pretty much by myself and that continued. I’ll get into more detail about what I mean about ‘by myself’ because therapy, you think, really is by yourself. What I mean is that in the prison system or in the jail systems, you get at least one hour’s worth of therapy. With that therapy, because you’re one of many people who need therapy, the federal law looks at you as a person who has been convicted of a crime. Innocent or guilty, you have been convicted, meaning that you already have a mental illness, because you cannot perform well in society. So there’s a mental illness underlying that is how they perceive it. 

With that, I did most of my self-searching alone. I had experienced a lot of death from the time I joined the military to the time my military contract ended in prison and until the time, pretty much, during the time of my incarceration. With that, I learned that I had to find some way to not only survive prison but to survive some of the tragedies and things that I went through. Personally, I did my own therapy by spending a lot of time by myself. I’m in a cell, maybe getting in trouble for this, that, and the third. Any opportunity to even present yourself as free is a danger, because you could end up being isolated. Any solitude is not always good in that environment, because it’s not like you can control the solitude. If you can control the solitude, then that is more healthy and rehabilitative. And so my therapy, I pretty much found my own and did my own.”

“I had experienced a lot of death from the time I joined the military to the time my military contract ended in prison and…during the time of my incarceration. I learned that I had to find some way to not only to survive prison but to survive some of the tragedies and things I went through…I did my own therapy by spending a lot of time by myself.”

Coss Marte Part 1: The Lower East Side, The Drug Trade and His Mom

Coss Marte Part 1: The Lower East Side, The Drug Trade and His Mom

Takia “Judah” Parham Part 1: Background, Struggles and Identity

Takia “Judah” Parham Part 1: Background, Struggles and Identity