Photo Essay

  • “I want to reach out to you and hopefully help save you from becoming me—a veteran of the prison system for over 20 years"
  • “Things are going to happen that will make you bitter with those closest to you; you have to be the bigger person and confront your problems, talk them out"
  • “You don’t want to grow up behind prison walls throwing your life away as I did"
  • “Your innocence and virtue is a precious commodity, do not recklessly squander with carelessless"
  • “I’m 55 years old now, and living in prison for the past six years. Let me tell ya kid, it’s no way to live”
  • “All of our life, you never took a bit of advice (warnings) from anyone that had a good look at where we were heading (which was down many a wrong path)"
  • “People who said they were friends were only influences. We allowed them to get into our head”
  • “I think we really need to have this heart-to-heart conversation for your sake to prevent you from ending up with a 29-year prison sentence as projected"
  • “We let drinking and drugs shatter our dreams and our potential future”
  • “Never lose the person you really are because it may be too late by the time you find yourself again"
  • “There is always another choice and you must find it"
  • “Get to work, Jack, get clean and avoid the madness because you are good enough to live your dreams and not just have them in your sleep"
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Portraits from prison: convicts write letters to their younger selves

Updated
By msnbc staff

Photographer Trent Bell took portraits of prisoners at the Maine State Prison and asked them to write letters to their younger selves.