Evolution is not the easiest thing to do in a prison cell. Understanding that all of God’s creation is meant to create and living by that universal principle can help a person achieve eternal evolution. With all the obstacles that are planted in Stateville that can potentially stunt your growth, the PNAP courses that I attended most definitely acted as a fertilizer towards my growth. I took four poetry courses led by Dr. Tara Betts and a correspondence class called “A Beloved Community: Healing, Justice, and the Urgency of Mindfulness” led by Johari Jabir. Both professors guided me down a historical path in their own way that elevated me in both knowledge and wisdom.

The poetry courses instilled social skills that I had not acquired before attending the classes. Stepping out of my comfort zone and reading my poetry in front of a group of people was not easy for me. I can hear Dr. Betts now, encouraging me and the rest of the students to continue to be creative. She is humble enough to teach a group of adult men in a Maximum Security Prison without putting manacles on our creative expression. I remember asking did she think that I had evolved as a writer after reading a poem during the last class that I took with her. She gave me positive feedback and encouraged me to continue to retain and utilize vocabulary to its full potential. I hold on to those words today and I will forever.

Mr. Jabir’s class educated me on “black” history in America. The reading material gave me facts of the past and tool’s for the future that has not only advanced me in knowledge but it also contributed to meditation skills that help me cope and evolve in a circumstance that feels like it’s designed to tear me down. Although I haven’t had the chance to meet Mr. Jabir, he has found a way to play a role in my growth through his PNAP correspondence course.

Today I am able to articulate myself better due to my participation in PNAP courses. My experience in each course is something that I will carry with me eternally. The seeds that were planted in me will continue to produce nutrients that will nourish the universe.

As I stated before, Stateville has the high potential to be a sterile environment, outside of educational opportunities provided. I have been able to take advantage of the PNAP courses and I am grateful for each professor that plays their role to rehabilitate potential productive citizens to society. Today I am a published author and PNAP has a huge role in my creative expression and evolution.

Charles Hill is a current PNAP student. His book, Watch Me Rise: A Poetic Evolution, is a story of his rehabilitation and growth from within the penal system. The cover art is designed by fellow PNAP student Carlos Ayala. It is available for purchase on