Prison Outreach Coordinator Malik King met with clemency recipient Efram Douglas on June 22nd and provided the following detailed summery of their encounter.
Efrem Rahoman Douglas – Knoxville, TN
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base; Eastern District of Tennessee
Sentence: 300 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (September 19, 2005)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on September 2, 2016.
According to Malik:
Tuesday, June, 21, 2016 was an exciting day for me. It was exciting because I was getting a chance to meet my brother Efrem from Tennessee that received Executive Clemency from President Barack Obama back on May 5, 2016 which was also ‘Cinco de Mayo;’ a day I’ll never forget because of what I was out doing that day; taking photos for a Mexican restaurant’s Facebook page when I got word from Amy that the Clemency list was out. Well it all came full circle two days ago when I went down to the Atlanta Greyhound bus station to sit and wait patiently with Efrem’s fiancé for a white, government van to pull up. However, after about an hour and a half wait the Prince in shining armor hadn’t arrived. We got word that since Efrem’s bus was overbooked USP-Atlanta wouldn’t release him this day. His fiancé and I were a little bummed out but she was more than I of course. I headed my way and she headed back home and I told her to hit me up and let me know the plan for tomorrow – Wednesday, June 22nd.
Later in the day Efrem’s fiancé called me and said Efrem called and “all systems are go.” Same time, same place. Wednesday, June 22, 2016 was a lot better. I was early to adjust the settings on my Nikon so I wouldn’t miss anything until his fiancé pulled up. It’s so great doing great things and meeting great people from all corners of the earth. It’s so cool and rewarding that the owner of the parking lot where I usually park and pay five dollars walked up to me and asked me: “I saw you parked yesterday then get out and walk over to the bus station with your camera. What is it that you’re doing?” Well I just so happened to have on my ‘Free Blake Stover’ shirt and let him read it, then I handed him a ‘CAN-DO Foundation’ business card and told him to check out the website that’s run by a great woman named Amy in California. At that time he shouted over to his workers: “Listen up, if and when you see this guy’s car don’t charge him to park; he’s good.” Then he shook my hand and told me: “Man, you and Amy are doing good work so anytime you are down here even if you’re not meeting people coming home from prison, you’re good.”
It was so cool he gave me unlimited free parking just because of what I’m doing to help others coming home from federal prison. So I made my way over to where Efrem’s fiancé was sitting in the car, staying cool on a sweltering Atlanta day. I told her to stay cool and I’ll go across the street to lookout for Efrem because she showed me a photo of him in her phone. His fiancé came across the street and stood with me in the blistering heat. We talked about life, Efrem and the BOP and before we knew it there he was; strolling south bound down the sidewalk with his black, leather shoes, crisply creased, white linen pants, custom handmade leather belt (which he made), his dark shades to protect the windows to his soul from the hot, Georgia sun. He had a freshly shaved, bald head and once he saw his fiancé and I standing there a radiant smile consumed his face and his sterling silver teeth glistened in all directions. He slowed his stroll and I took several back to back pictures of him walking up, crossing the street, hugging his fiancé and enjoying the moment. After they let go of one another, Efrem gave me a hug and said: “Man Malik it’s finally over. Sorry for yesterday but I knew you’d be down here today brother. I’ve never doubted you or anything you said on the phone or in your emails from day one.” I pulled out my red sharpie and wrote a personal message inside of the cover of ‘Just Mercy’ by Attorney Bryan Stevenson who was kind enough to donate a substantial amount of books to me to give to you and those that I meet when the come through Atlanta.
I gave Clemency Recipient Telisha Watkins the same book three days ago when I was in Charlotte, North Caroline to meet her, too. Efrem, and I walked across the street to the bus station and talked about life and I assisted him in getting his bus ticket to the halfway house in Knoxville, Tennessee. While assisting him, I had to ask him how he felt. Did he feel overwhelmed by all of the people in the bus station around us with all of the noise and the woman on the public address system shouting out the different gate numbers and destinations. He told me: “Malik this doesn’t bother me one bit and I feel calm and everything seems perfectly normal because I prepared myself mentally for this day for a long time.” We talked about the human mind and I told him that I’m always intrigued about how the human mind processes information and how some people handle things so cool, calm and collected like him and how others in this same situation would feel overwhelmed. Efrem’s reply was: “Nah not me Malik. I’m loving it brother and I want a lot of others that are still down to also enjoy this same feeling I’m feeling and I want you to enjoy it too Malik because what you’re doing is crazy.”
I took a lot of photos of him going through the ticket line and ticket purchase process and others in line were looking and wondering why I was taking so many photos of Efrem going through the motions. I knew the importance of it and I wanted to make sure I captured it all for him and his fiancé to have for eternity. We walked back across the street, took more photos and when I asked Efrem: “Do you want to stand with your back against the red, brick building or do you want to stand on the grass?” He said in a laughing voice: “Malik, I’ve seen enough bricks in thirteen years. I wanna stand on the grass”. So the grass it was and I took more photos of him and his fiancé holding the laminated affidavit and laminated letter from The Commander in Chief – President Barack Obama. He took a few photos holding the copy of ‘Just Mercy’ and I took a few photos with my brother holding the letter from President Barack Obama and him holding the book. It was a great day and a great feeling to see a family unit reunited after years apart and it’s a great feeling to be present to capture these moments on film and have them frozen in time for an eternity.
I told Efrem that I loved him and want him to do great things in life and he promised me that he wouldn’t let anyone down especially the president. He even told me that he’s going to get the last paragraph of the letter, and President Barack Obama’s signature tattooed somewhere on his body because if not for Obama he’d be in prison for another nine years because of that 851 enhancement. He told me everything that happened from the day of his arrest, to the court proceedings to his first day in prison. It was approaching two in the afternoon and I knew he had to board the bus to Knoxville so I told him to call me when he reached his destination because I was leaving so he could spend a few moments with his fiancé. I told him that he’ll have to learn how to text quickly because that’s the way of the world now and everyone does it all day and all night and he said: “I know Malik. That’s what I hear.” And before I hugged his fiancé and told her to keep in touch, I hugged Efrem one more time and told him to reach his destination safely, to call me and let me know he made it and that he was always gonna be my brother for life. The last thing he said to me was: “Don’t worry Malik I’m gonna call you when I touchdown in Knoxville.” Then he turned to me and said: “Malik man I don’t know how to tell you thanks for everything you’ve done for me”. Then he said: “Here Malik, this is just for you.” And he handed me a copy of his official letter from President Barack Obama granting his commutation and told me: “This is for your brother so you’ll never forget.”
Later that same evening at six fifty-four in the evening he made his first call to me on his cell phone to let me know that he got to Knoxville safe and sound. He told me how he just kicked back and took it all in and ate some McDonalds and how his stomach was hurting a little bit. I told him that’s normal and it’ll take your body a while to adjust back to eating junk/real food again. We talked for about six minutes and he thanked me for everything and he told me he’d be in touch and not to lose his number. A short while later his fiancé called me and also thanked me for everything and how Efrem thinks I’m one cool dude and how much it meant to him that I came down there to the bus station two days in a row. I told her: “When you fall in love with something that you love doing, you don’t even think about things like sleep loss, driving in traffic to be somewhere because it’s meaningful.” And she told me: “I get all that Malik but there aren’t many people like you that care and what you did these two days means the world to him.”
In closing I want to tell you that I hope that I get to meet all clemency recipients and write about each one when they come through Atlanta because there is no better feeling than meeting a person that helped you get through some of your darkest times regardless who that person may be. At the same time there is no better feeling for me than to meet great people that have taught me so much and opened the windows to my soul to a whole new world.
In the words of Donnie Hathaway: “I’ll Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know.”
Your brother Malik
On June 18, 2016 Malik drove to Charlotte, NC to meet with Tellisha Watkins who is a clemency recipient. Her clemency was granted
Malik has been an invaluable asset to the CAN-DO Foundation since he became the Prisoner Outreach Coordinator only 6 short months ago, in July 2015. Malik provides books* and has written to prisoners for many years and currently communicates with over 200 prisoners. Malik was instrumental in connecting CAN-DO with several clemency recipients that we put in touch with Swiss Broadcasting. As a result, they interviewed Ricky McCall
*See end of this post for the list of books donated by authors to Malik King for him to distribute to prisoners.
Malik lives in Atlanta, Georgia, so it was a short trip for him to meet Larry Duke for lunch. Larry received a compassionate release while serving his 24th year of a life sentence for marijuana. Larry is an inspiration to everyone serving a life sentence, that there is hope and that miracles can happen!
Inspired by Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. Malik sent him a card that had the names of many POWs that CAN-DO is seeking justice for.
Possibly the greatest way to end out the year was to receive photos from clemency recipient Donel Clark’s first Christmas at home after serving 22 years in prison.
Last but not least, Malik was able to greet clemency recipient Billie Marie Taylor on December 18th, 2015 when she was in route, from prison to the half-way house, which took her into Malik’s home territory.
Malik wrote the following about this great occasion:
December 29, 2015 was a very memorable night for me and my friend Marie. We headed downtown to the Greyhound Station to meet Billie Taylor who was coming home on clemency from President Barack Obama after being in prison for twenty-five years.
Her Prison sentence was commuted to expire on April 16, 2016. That means she was eligible for half-way house time and the BOP quickly did precisely that.
We got to the bus station on time and waited and I saw a 229 area code and phone number show up on my phone.I usually don’t answer calls that don’t have a name attached but I answered it and it was Billie. She told me that the bus was going to be delayed about thirty to forty miles outside of Atlanta because a chicken truck overturned and traffic was at a standstill. While we were waiting for her a tractor trailer truck rolled back into the bus and slammed into it…hard enough that they had to all get off of the bus and board another bus.
She kept calling to give me updates and she ended up giving me her friend Stephanie s number who was also down there to meet her. I called her cell and she came over and hung out with Marie and I. By the time Billie arrived it was almost 11 pm, but well worth the wait. Stephanie walked over to the bus to meet Billie and Marie and I put more change in the parking meter. Billie gave us both a hug and I gave her a Just Mercy book that was donated to me from Attorney Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative that I tagged for her.
Billie showed us her letter from President Barack Obama and she let me hold it and read it and we took a few photos enjoying this historical moment. Stephanie gave her some money and Marie gave her a jacket because it will be colder as she gets closer to her Kansas destination. She was so thankful for everything and so nice, I gave her a huge hug and a kiss on the left cheek before I left. I wrote in her book with my black sharpie “Dear Billie, good luck on the next chapter of your life. With love, Malik/EPIC”.
Moments like this, I will never forget. It’s so cool that Stephanie has a Tally-Ho Facebook page so they can all keep in touch and have people in different cities to meet fellow comrades when they come through. Before we left, I showed Stephanie the video of Otis Johnson’s return to the free world after being gone for forty-four years and it blew her mind because she experienced some of the same things. She told me how hard it was for her to go and do simple things like grocery shop because there are so many things to choose from when she first came home. And she told me of another woman that did a long sentence that found grocery shopping so overwhelming that it would take her several hours to complete. This woman had to seek counseling for this post prison disorder.
Billie shared what it was like the day she got the call that she got clemency and being led to the Warden’s office and the joy she felt and she told me that the last thing she did before she walked out of her dorm was to look at that cheap, uncomfortable mattress and said: “You won t be feeling me laying on your ass no more after this”. The night was great except for the fact that I didn t get to take Billie out to dinner, didn’t get to show her the internet on my laptop and walk her though setting up her own, personal email address before getting her back to her bus, due to the late arrival. Helping another individual that you don t even know is one of the must humbling experiences you can ever imagine; especially coming back out in the world after twenty-five years. Billie didn t seem overwhelmed at all by it all.
Bille told me to tell you and ALL of the others she had to leave behind that you’ll be in her prayers. She also told me to tell you how thankful she was for people like Marie, Stephanie and I for not only being there for her arrival but for hanging out for three hours until the bus made it.
Lastly, I hope to meet [more prisoners] one day if/when you’re passing through my city so I can share this kind of mind blowing experience with you and write about our time together. So far I met (2) wonderful individuals named Billie when they came home and came through Atlanta. One male and one female and all things happen for a reason that they both spell their name the same say – Billie. Bille that I met last night just got on my radar about three days before her release thanks to another comrade that was serving time with Billie. When I got word Billie was coming out, I wouldn’t have missed this once in a lifetime opportunity for anything in the world. And I’ll do the same for you when you come through.
Love, Peace & Happiness
CAN-DO Prisoner Outreach Coordinator
Jennifer Tress – “You’re Not Pretty Enough” (2) copies
Vikki Law – ‘Resistance Behind Bars” (7) copies
Piper Kerman – “Oranges Is The New Black” (13) copies
Betsan Corkhill – ‘The Benefits Of Knitting” (2) copies
Nina Casalena – “Vegan & Vegetarian Lifestyle And Healthy Eat Alternatives” (27) copies
Professor Gerald Lopez (UCLA) – “Reentry & Financial Management” (9) copies
Ayelet Waldman – “Daughter’s Keeper” (3) copies
Julie Castro of Half Price Books donated (50) random books
Brook at Popular Greetings donated (50) assorted greeting cards
Phillip Whittington of The John Howard Association of Illinois donated (19) pamphlets on recidivism
Attorney Bryan Stevenson of Equal Justice Initiative – “Just Mercy” (15) copies
Kelly Stein of Bulletproof – “Bulletproof Diet” (5) copies
John Karle of St. Martin’s Press donated (30) random books
Melissa Cohlmia, Monica Ruth, Mark Holden & Charles Koch of Koch Companies donated (5) copies of Charles Koch’s book “Good Profit” with a personal letter enclosed to the recipient of each selected recipient from Mark Holden
Josh Itkin of The New Press – “The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander (130) copies
Wendy Enelow – “‘Modernize Your Resume Get Noticed…Get Hired’ (2) copies