2011 Prisoner of the Year - Dennis Nicholson


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Pennsylvania Prison Society's 2011 Prisoner of the Year is Dennis Nicholson, for his constant efforts to improve himself and the world around him, the hope he ignites in others, and the positive and effective leadership he provides.

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2011 Prisoner of the Year - Dennis Nicholson

  1. 1. Correctional Forum Spring, 2011 224 th Annual Meeting 2 0 1 1 AWA R D PRISONER OF THE YEAR: DENNIS S. NICHOLSON SCI RetreatThe Prisoner of the Year Award is goes on in prison and that they need a terrible crime, but because someonepresented to Dennis S. Nicholson to change their ways, as well as ask- took the time to pray for me, saw noin recognition of his constant ing adults to show their children reason to stop believing in and lovingefforts to improve himself and the what is really important in life. me — I now see beyond the trials of myworld around him, the hope he Nicholson hopes to be released on present moment and know that I canignites in others, and the positive parole later this year. Below is an make a difference if I reach out and doand effective leadership he provides. excerpt from his acceptance speech: the same… I’m not alone, so continue to Nicholson is forty-one years old “I accept this award on behalf ofand has been in prison nearly twenty every lifer that fights harder to preventyears. At age 19, he was a driver dur- the youth from coming to prison than Freedom equals a life filleding a robbery when another boy they fight for themselves to get out; for with possibilities to soarkilled a man. He accepts full respon- every sentenced inmate that works dailysibility for his actions and during his to better himself so that he can return higher than ever before.time in prison has counseled other home and become a good neighbor, Incarceration is a life filledprisoners. While in prison, he earned father and son. We are in here…we area bachelor’s degree in business doing all we can and the only recogni- with regret, broken and lostadministration from Columbia tion we need is to see the prison popula- dreams, pain and maybeSouthern University, was Chair of tions decrease, the building of prisons even a life sentence.Inmate Affairs at SCI Retreat, and decrease, the percent of children gradu-produced a video of the entire Day ating both in the inner cities as well asof Responsibility at SCI Retreat this in the suburbs increase, and the violence listen to what comes from behind thesepast June. He also wrote an article finally end at every street corner, school, walls. We have a message and a firefor a Philadelphia newspaper, telling neighborhood, sect and community…I burning deep inside of us to make a pos-young gang members what really lived a life of mediocrity and committed itive difference in the lives of others! Dennis. S. Nicholson wrote an article for the Philadelphia Tribune, urging Philadelphians to teach their children about what is really important so that they don’t take part in violent behavior and go to prison. As a community, we have turned a blind eye to the signs that our children — whether they are white, black, yellow or brown — are hurting and are confused about what life is all about. As adults, we no longer speak the old clichés about how hard work pays off, that success is not defined by the amount of money in your account but rather by the love in your household, and that a good name is worth far more than precious rubies. The youth today are told that in order to be somebody, you must have the “money, clothes and hoes…” They aren’t told or shown how to acquire the resources needed to afford and acquire certain pleasures and necessities of life, nor are they disci- plined into receiving the education that would enable them to achieve “things” in and with their life. For these young people, it’s simply, “I don’t have a job, education, or a home but I want a Benz and everything else and I will get it by any means nec- essary.” Sitting here in prison, I feel for the youth of today and it pains me every time I see another 18-, 19- or 20-year-old walk through these prison corridors with a 15-, 20- year or maybe LIFE sentence hanging around his neck.6 www.prisonsociety.org