My name is Samuel Ozell Powell, I am 44 years old. I am serving a life without parole sentence, for first-degree murder and assault with intent to murder.

I have been incarcerated for 22 years.

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I die daily in prison, for the simple fact that the young boy I was 22 years ago is no longer within me, to help shoulder the burdens of being in prison.

(What I am saying is, who I am today is paying the price for who I was yesterday.)

The hardest thing for me is knowing that the man I have become today, this new man, is going to spend the rest of his life in prison until death separates this union between the Michigan Department of Corrections and me.

Who is this new man I have become over the course of time?

I am a Dog Handler for “Paws with a Cause” program. I am a tutor for MDOC’s “Violence Prevention Program,” and I am a Peer Supporter for Substance Abuse Programs.

I also facilitate my own classes:

  • Relapse, Recidivism, Prevention, Recovery class (RRPR).
  • Thinking Matters class.
  • Understanding Substance Abuse (USA) Workshop class.

This is who I have become inside of prison, and I love helping people.

RRPR is a 20-week course, where I teach inmates to value life, family, and their health, when it comes to addiction. I sign my own certification with peer support letters, so inmates can show the parole board.

Thinking Matters is a class where we discuss behavior from our past that either led to criminal activity or could have. Thinking Matters also challenges inmates to examine their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, when it comes to conflict.

USA workshop is a combination of various other substance abuse programs, which help inmates biologically and  psychologically deal with their addictions and gain a better understanding of the root cause of their substance abuse problems.

This is who I have become inside of prison, and I love helping people.

I help inmates on their way back to society get the necessary treatment before going home, so that they won’t make the decisions I have made in my life. I spend my time in prison making sure that society receives the best from the inmates who are returning to their communities to become civilized, productive citizens.

After I was found guilty, I was told to only get my GED and a job. They said no programming will be needed. I have surpassed all expectations not only for myself, but for the system that has left me to just sit and remain dormant for the rest of my life.

My rehabilitation is not just my rehabilitation, but it is for other inmates, to show them that we don’t have to just sit and wait to die.

My rehabilitation is for the MDOC. My rehabilitation is for society. My rehabilitation is for my victims. My rehabilitation is for my judge.  My rehabilitation is for my prosecutor.  My rehabilitation is for my trial attorney.  My rehabilitation is for the legislators who deem lifers as irredeemable. Lastly, my rehabilitation is for my family.

I struggle psychologically because my thinking and my thoughts, behavior, attitude, and perspective on life are all new.

I feel sad for myself at times because this new human being I have become came into my life too late. I needed this new human being in my life to give me guidance 22 years ago, but since I couldn’t save myself back then, I will save myself and others today. I will ensure that my fellow inmates will be saved from the vicious cycle of recidivism. I want to one day return to Grand Rapids and continue being a Peer Counselor to those who struggle with addiction and criminal activities. I have visions of taking classes at Grand Rapids Community College, so that I can get a certificate in the field of being a Drug Alcohol Counselor.

In closing, I would like to thank you for your time. I hope my story will shed light on the minds of those who don’t know me or those in similar situations as myself.