Green Eyes spends six months out on bail before beginning a seven-year prison sentence after being arrested for felony possession of heroin in September 2014. This essay follows Green Eyes and his family at home and on the streets of the Near Westside and Southside neighborhoods of Syracuse, as he prepares to leave.
Out on bail Green Eyes took to the streets: “I was really stressed and had a lot of anxiety. Everything started with my addiction problem, which made me go back to the street life. I started hanging out all the time and drinking a lot on top of getting high.”
India, battling addiction throughout her life, got clean in 2005 and off methadone in 2008. Bolden works at Upstate Hospital and is a part-time student at Onondaga Community College, pursuing her associate’s degree in human services. She paused her pursuit of the degree after Green Eyes’ return on bail: “He [Green Eyes] never acted like that before. He was acting crazy. When I saw him kissing another woman my heart fell to the floor. I felt like my whole world had just been crushed. I lashed out with violence. I was in a blind rage. I never wanted to be with him again at that moment. After I calmed down I realized that he was acting out of frustration so I decided to stay with him and work things out.”
Ellissia Maisonet felt the effects of a broken legal system that favors those with money. She and her friends are arrested when the police stop their car and find a gun on one of the passengers. Three days later, her mother bails her out of jail. Unable to hire a lawyer, her girlfriend, Kash, waits 30 days before a public defender gets the charges dropped.
Green Eyes' stepdaughter, India (junior), a sociology major interested in the effects of the prison industrial complex on minority families, graduated from LeMoyne College in spring 2015. She’s a graduate student working on a masters in sociology at St. John’s University.
Green Eyes’ arrest affected his entire family: “Relationships were strained. It definitely put a huge weight on me and my sister’s relationship with my mother. She was miserable about it and that affected us rather than affecting him [Green Eyes]. She felt alone before he even left for prison,” said India.