Amplified Voices

Adnan Khan - Creating Possibilities in the Face of a Life Sentence - Episode 8

September 06, 2020 Amber & Jason - Criminal Legal Reform Advocates with Lived Experience Season 1 Episode 8
Amplified Voices
Adnan Khan - Creating Possibilities in the Face of a Life Sentence - Episode 8
Show Notes Transcript

Join Amber and Jason as they have a candid conversation with Adnan Kahn, a man who describes himself as "going from an 8 year-old little league baseball player, to an 18 year-old with a life sentence." During the conversation, Adnan shares his childhood experiences and the factors that lead to his involvement in the criminal legal system. Adnan shares how California's felony murder rule impacted not just his life, but that of thousands of people in the state. His story is one of trauma, accountability, determination, hard work, and hope.

Adnan currently serves as the Executive Director of Re:Store Justice, an organization that was founded in 2017 inside San Quentin State Prison by Adnan Khan, Alexandra Mallick and Sara Sindija. The organization was created to re-imagine our justice system.

For more information about the Canteen Support Project that Adnan mentions during the show visit:

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Adnan Khan - Adnan - for Transcript

Intro: [00:00:00] Everyone has a voice; a story to tell. Some are marginalized and muted. 

What if there were a way to amplify those stories; to have conversations with real people in real communities; a way to help them step into the power of their lived experience. 

Welcome to Amplified Voices, a podcast, lifting the experiences of people and families impacted by the criminal legal system.

Together, we can create positive change - for everyone.

Jason: [00:00:34] Hello, welcome to another episode of amplified voices. I'm your host, Jason, with my co-host Amber. Good afternoon, Amber.

Amber: [00:00:40] Good afternoon, Jason.

Jason: [00:00:42] Our guest today is a gentleman by the name of Adnan Khan and we're really excited to have him here. Good afternoon, Adnan.

Adnan: [00:00:52] Good afternoon to you too. Jason, Amber, thank you for having me.

Jason: [00:00:55] It's great to have you. So before we, um  jump into some of our questions, I'd like to give you an opportunity to tell us a little bit about your past and your childhood and what got you involved in the Criminal Legal System.

Adnan: [00:01:08] There's a lot to share there. Where do you start in anyone's life in general, right? I think what I'll do is just kind of share pieces of how I grew up and please feel free to ask whatever you want to. 

I'm a child of immigrants, but my parents divorced when I was eight years old. And once they divorced, my father was in the city of San Francisco and he lived in the Tenderloin district and my mom lived in the suburbs of a place in Richmond, California. And so, I was back and forth between mom and dad, mom and dad. But my father was also an absent father.

Jason: [00:01:37] What's the distance between those.

Adnan: [00:01:39] Maybe an hour drive. 

Jason: [00:01:41] Okay.

Adnan: [00:01:41] So not too much, but his absence created the further distance. It was hard to locate him and find out where he was. And I'll always say: like during my incarceration, particularly, I wonder how my life would have been if my dad was all the way in my life or how my life would have been, if he was all the way out of my life. But because he was in and out, I think it created more of a tease for me to seek and need a sense of belonging and possibly a positive male role model. So, I feel like that always became enhanced for me, that need.

By the age of 12, my mother remarried, and my stepfather was abusive. I had stepbrothers who were older than me. I was 12 years old and about sixth grade and they were in high school; junior, seniors. And they would pick on me, try to beat me up and I would fight back all the time. 

My stepfather tried to threaten to kill me, throw me over the bridge. He tried to poison my eye before all sorts of things. He was sedating my mom making her take medication so he could continue this type of abuse. Stealing things from me; he was stealing things from my mom and put it in my jacket and coat pocket and say that I was stealing from her. Basically, he criminalized me inside the home because he didn't want me around that at 12 years old, I just really pushed back hard on him and it wasn't a safe environment for me.

So, then I was moved around to my uncle's house - my mom has eldest of eight children - uncle house, grandmother's house, aunt's house. I mean, just back and forth everywhere I went, but I just never felt like I had a place to belong.

Jason: [00:03:04] What was school life like for you?

Adnan: [00:03:07] Being in class, it was very difficult to pay attention. I feel like I was a good student. I could learn if I wanted to or when I wanted to, but I felt like I was carrying so much stress and burden, I just couldn't focus in academics. 

And so, by the time I was a teenager, 13 years old, the way I would cope with all the trauma that I was experiencing, was through drinking and smoking; particularly smoking weed. And because of that, that became a priority and so I would cut school. I would run away from home often. I squeezed through my freshman year, sophomore year and parts of my junior year through night school or summer school. But after 11th grade I dropped out of high school.

Jason: [00:03:45] I know that your faith is really important to you. Did that come later?

Adnan: [00:03:49] I think my faith and my spirituality definitely came later. It was, I guess, instilled in me in a home setting. Like I said, I grew up with an immigrant family and inside the house, it's like, I live two worlds. I come inside the house and it's very cultural. But the feud for me was that once I step out of the house, I live in a completely different poverished neighborhood with different friends and, you know, policing was different. 

Jason: [00:04:12] Did your parents speak English?

Adnan: [00:04:13] My parents spoke English, yes. 

Jason: [00:04:15] Okay. What's your origin?

Adnan: [00:04:17] My family's from Pakistan.

Jason: [00:04:19] Did you face discrimination because of that?

Adnan: [00:04:22] Often. My neighbor, when I was in the second grade, right before my parents actually divorced; my neighbor, he was in the third grade. And when the Iraq war, when desert storm was happening, I remember going to his door and like wanting to play and he opens the door and he says, "whose side are you on?" This is a third grader. Like "whose side are you on? Saddam's or ours?"

Amber: [00:04:41] Oh, my goodness.

Adnan: [00:04:42] Yeah, I just didn't understand that at that time. And I'm like "your side." Like, I just didn't get the question. I thought he was joking. But his stepmother who was behind him or heard him reprimanded him. Like, "why'd you say that?" 

Jason: [00:04:53] Right.

Adnan: [00:04:54] And I'm not sure, you know, looking back now, where he got those teachings from, but when she reprimanded him, I was like, okay, something was wrong. So I went back and told my mom, my dad, and they were frustrated. And then that was one of the earlier experiences. 

September 11th happened, obviously when I was like in 11th grade, that was a big shift in Islamophobia as well.

Jason: [00:05:12] Yeah, definitely. We saw that. So, then what happens next?

Adnan: [00:05:16] So my mom ended up divorcing my stepfather. Around the age of 14 my dad completely disappeared away from our life. 

I have two sisters as well. I'm in the middle. I have a sister a year younger sister that's two years older. So, wherever we were, the three of us were always together where they were at stepfather's, mom's house, grandma's house, uncle's house, wherever we were, we were always together.

But we moved with our actual father. At age of 14 he said that, hey, can you live with your mother for a little bit? And then we can come back and move in with me. That was the last. And we heard from him. I haven't heard from him since, to this day. 

Then by the age of 17, my mother remarried and moved out at a state. And once she moved out of state, a month later at the age of 17, my uncle kicked me out of the house. So, I lived homeless for about a year. I slept in cars, parks, friends' houses, couches. Literally like wherever I could.

 I turned 18 homeless. I remember that birthday still. Sad birthday smoking and drinking, trying to forget about not just my physical conditions, but my emotional and mental conditions. And my need at that time was, I just needed help. I needed shelter, literally. I just needed somebody who would care for me genuinely. And I just felt like I couldn't find that. 

The place where I did find that was this gentleman who I'm not going to name, but he was 22 years old at the time. He said that you can come live with me. He found out about my situation.

And so, I lived with him for maybe a month, not even that. And one night I'm with him and his friend and we're smoking weed. And both of them said that, hey, there's a guy we know, he's a good kid from the suburbs, which lives about an hour away. He has a thousand dollars’ worth of weed. And since we know him and you don't know him, we'll act like you're buying it from him. Once he hands it to you run into a car and we'll call up a driver and he'll just drive off and we'll split the goods. 

So immediately and impulsively, I agreed to it. The agreement was no guns, knives, or weapons were to be used. And for me to, again, like I said, once he handed it to me, run into a car and the driver would drive off.

So, my friends who set it up called up a driver,

Jason: [00:07:12] This is something like out of a movie. Was this a first offense for you?

Adnan: [00:07:16] I used to get kicked out of school or expelled and suspended, things like that. As far as police, I did community service, I did a scared straight program at San Quentin when I was like 15 for stealing alcohol at a safe way. But I've never been to juvenile hall, never were put in a cell, until after committing this offense.

Jason: [00:07:32] Okay. So, you like, you want to get high, you're going to do this, you know, this person. It's just like a plan to go rob the guy.

Adnan: [00:07:40] Yes, it was a robbery; I don't want to minimize any of my actions. But initially it was like, give it to me, I'm going to run away. We didn't have a car and so my friend that set this up, he called up his friend that he knew since high school, apparently. A person I maybe met like in passing once before. 

So, this gentleman comes down with a car. The other gentleman who had the thousand dollars’ worth of weed came down and it was a Monday night around 8:00 PM. And once he handed me the weed, it looked like the getaway driver pulled this young man out of the car and appeared to me as if they were fighting. 

So I'm looking out of the window and I just can't understand why are they fighting? So, I get out of the car, I start yelling at that time, my co-defendant, I was like, what are you doing? I have this stuff, get back in the car. So, he gets back in the car as they were fighting in the middle of the road. We leave the scene and the next morning at 2:00 AM, I was arrested. 

I was arrested, taken to the forensics and they took my clothes and did the DNA. And I just didn't really understand the gravity of the offense that I had caused. I honestly thought that I was going to do a few months in jail because; Oh my gosh, they got the weed it was right there in the car - and that's where they found it. 

So when they finally took me into the interrogation room, that's when the detective told me that you're being charged with robbery and murder. And as soon as I heard that, I just couldn't believe it. I broke down and cried. It didn't make sense to me. I couldn't believe someone had lost their life, just a few hours ago. I had taken part in that, at least in the snatch-and-grab slash robbery, 

Jason: [00:09:06] How old were you at this point?

Adnan: [00:09:07] I was 18.

Jason: [00:09:08] You were 18. You were essentially homeless living with a friend.

Adnan: [00:09:13] In and out. Yes.

Jason: [00:09:14] And you go through this and you're thinking, I did something. But you had no idea, that evening, that the person had been murdered?

Adnan: [00:09:22] No. I found out once the detective in that interrogation room told me. It just didn't click it. Like it doesn't make sense. What do you mean? Like murder? How did that even happen? No guns, knives, weapons; you know, it just didn't make sense to me. 

Again, I don't want to go too into detail. I don't want to re-victimize or offend anybody listening that has been harmed by violence. So, me skipping over details is not me not being accountable. I just don't want to harm anyone, just by listening to some of the stuff that's detailed in the story.

Amber: [00:09:48] Completely understand. Yes.

Jason: [00:09:51] Thank you for that, too.

Adnan: [00:09:52] Yeah, you're welcome. 

Going into the interrogation room, that's when I learned a young man, who was 19 years old at that time, lost his life. So immediately I was responsible and accountable for what I did. And it wasn't to get less time. I just didn't understand the concept of time. I didn't know about this thing a felony murder rule. I just took responsibility and admitted to what I did because I knew in that moment that this is wrong, and I just can't believe uh. It was traumatic just to hear that from me.

Amber: [00:10:19] If you wouldn't mind, for those people who don't understand what a felony murder rule is, could you detail what that means?

Adnan: [00:10:27] Yeah, so soon when I was charged with robbery and murder, it didn't also connect that: how am I being charged with robbery and a murder? Not saying that I'm not accountable for what I did. I just didn't understand like how that connection was being made for me. 

So when I finally got to see my attorney, I learned about in California, what's called the felony murder rule. Which is that if you were involved in a felony, in my case, which was a robbery, then everyone involved is equally guilty of the murder. 

The law says, even if you went as far as to try to stop somebody from hurting someone or killing someone, you're still responsible because the law, all it comes down to is: did you have an intent to commit a robbery? 

For example. So, four years later - three years actually into my County jail time - when I went to trial. So, for example, if you were part of the 12 jurors, your job was not to find me guilty of a murder. 

So, my trial literally started with the district attorney saying that "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we are not here to prove that Mr. Khan is guilty of a murder. As a matter of fact, I will tell you right now he is not guilty of the murder. But that's not what your jury instructions are. All you have to do is prove him guilty of an intent to commit a robbery"- which I was and still am guilty of. And I admitted to. Yes, I did. My intention were to commit that snatch-and-grab. But it wasn't robbery. I took something with force or fear from someone - that's the legal definition. 

And so, the jury obviously found me guilty of an intent to commit a robbery. After that they went home to their families and next phase was the judge's phase. And according to the felony murder rule, the judge had to, and did sentence me to 25 years to life.

Jason: [00:12:01] This is so important, but I want to hold that for one second. I want to go back to: you've been arrested and you're being told what's going on. At that point in your life, who did you even have to call? I mean, what's going through your mind? Are you calling your mother? You don't know where your father is.

Adnan: [00:12:16] No, I haven't spoken to my mother at that time, by then a year. I didn't even call my sisters. Actually, when I was in the holding tank of my arrest in the County jail, I called the person that was living with sporadically. The one that set up the robbery. That's the only person that I called, and he wasn't picking up the phone. And I found out later that he had made the statement and lied, and the other two gentlemen were never involved or charged in the crime. Which is fine. I'm not complaining about that. 

Jason: [00:12:43] You're the only one who was held accountable for this?

Adnan: [00:12:45] Myself and my co-defendant. So, I wanted to share that the young man who committed the murder, he was 21 years old, bipolar schizophrenic, had severe mental health conditions. And there's evidence showing that he was not taking - he had like list of eight to 10 different pills that he took for his bipolar, for his schizophrenia - that he ran out of.

Him being 21 years old, he had to go renew his subscription or prescription, I'm sorry, into the clinic, which he never did for about eight days prior to this incident. And because of his paranoia, apparently, he had a concealed knife on him. And seeing what happened, like, I feel like he wasn't in the sense of reality when he committed this harm against this young man. The things just didn't add up.

So that's another tragedy. I think that; yes, a young man lost his life, but how we treat mental health or neglect mental health in this country was a direct result in a tragedy that took place.

Amber: [00:13:38] So it seems kind of like a Perfect storm, if you will, of a lot of things. At that point in your life, obviously it's something that normally somebody wouldn't say to themselves; "Okay, well, I'm just gonna go commit a robbery" or whatnot. But again, at that point, trying to find that sense of belonging and with all that you had going on self-medicating. I mean, I can't even imagine being in that situation and how one would cope with your mother moving away, everything that you'd been through, the instability.

Am I hearing that right?

Adnan: [00:14:12] Absolutely. You know, I mean, just connecting the dots and reflecting on my life during my incarceration, I always say this: I went from an eight year old little league baseball player to our 18 year old with a life sentence. Right, and I think it was Jesse Jackson who said none of us are born, armed and dangerous.

So what is it that happened in my life that led me down this trajectory of pain and suffering, where I wanted to inflict that on someone else. So, yes, when my father abandoned me the need to feel connected, the need for loyalty, my stepfather abusing me, me not trusting adults; but still wanted a sense of safety, emotional safety, emotional security.

And then my being tossed around from my grandparents, uncle, aunts, places, and homes. I just felt like my primary caregivers never cared about me. So, needing care, needing someone to understand me, yes, a place of belonging. I had a consistency of experiences of instability. 

Then when my mother finally left and then I was kicked into the streets, it wasn't, like I said, the physical conditions that made me feel alone and abandoned, but it was emotional conditioning that came with the idea that, yes, I don't care, I don't matter to people. And that was just reinforced throughout my entire life. So that moment, and those moments of me being homeless and sleeping in the tennis court or sleeping on a park bench, literally as a 17, 18-year-old, it was very embarrassing and very hurtful. 

And so I lived in pain. I didn't want to feel that pain anymore. And so, I smoked weed and I drank, and that is how I coped and made me feel so much better. But when I ran out of that thing, that made me feel better, I wanted to go get it. 

But what I really really needed was emotional support. I needed trauma therapy. I needed consistency of care in my community. I mean, there was nowhere for me to go to get that. I couldn't get on a bus for the bus, dropped me off at trauma care center. That didn't exist. There was nowhere I can find that. 

And so, my self-medication was my self-trauma care, which was: find more weed to an extent where I'm going to take it from somebody. Because my pain is worth more than you having this possession of this weed. And all that added up.

Going back to just when I was 18 or even 17. By the time I was 17, I was a parent-less, homeless high school dropout. It didn't need for a tragedy to happen - some young kid to lose his life, me to go to prison for a life sentence - for me to get the therapy and the things that I needed to be a successful human being or a healed human being. 

And sadly, that's what happens in our society. That's what it takes, sadly, is a tragedy for someone to wake up and finally change something.

Jason: [00:16:36] So the system failed you. So now several lives were upended. One was eliminated completely. Others were pretty much turned upside down. And you find yourself entering into prison as an 18-year-old, right? Was it that quick?

Adnan: [00:16:52] No. I spent almost four years in county jail. There's a 23-hour 15-minute lock-down. No TV radio in your cell, just you you're selling books. You have 45 minutes to come outside, to work out, take a shower, get on the phone, get a haircut, go to this book shelf - like 20 books where the hair clippers are -  in a module, in a jail. I spent four years doing that. 

Three years into my trial and then I waited almost another year to try to appeal my case to the judge, and then finally was sentenced. And then around the age of 22, I was sent to state prison.

Jason: [00:17:24] So 22, now you end up in prison and you walk in and you've had a little experience in the jail before you go to prison. What's that like when you walk in there for the first time when you're 22?

Amber: [00:17:35] Jason, I just wanted to ask real quick before you answered that part. 

Adnan, can you explain to people, because a lot of people who are not familiar with criminal justice don't even really understand the difference between jail and prison. And a lot of times in jail, there just aren't the same type of services and support. 

So, to have spent four years in a jail is pretty significant.

Adnan: [00:17:58] So the difference of jail was that, jail is a place where people are not guilty yet, for the most part. Especially where I was housed. I was housed in a more maximum jail to where certain types of crimes, that's where you would be if you're fighting your case. 

So basically, for almost four years, Well, at least three years, for sure, I was going back and forth to the judge, to the courtroom, and then being put back in to a jail cell. I wasn't sentenced, I was not found guilty yet. There were other people that were in this jail housing unit with me that were just like me, that were going to see the judge that were fighting their case back and forth, seeing their attorney that were not found guilty yet. 

Now those who are found guilty and sentenced, if you have less than at that time, eight months or less, you could serve your time in the county jail, which is in the county that you committed your crime, which is very local. But if it was anything more than that, you will get sent somewhere across the state of California into a state prison. 

Now I've heard in the past where jail is like high school and prison is like college. Not education-wise, but maturity-wise, I guess you could say. Danger wise, I guess you could say. 

I hope I'm describing that properly. I don't know if that was right description.

Amber: [00:19:08] There's no right or wrong answer. It's just in the interest of people learning and understanding kind of the experience, I just thought it was important to make the designation between the two. Cause a lot of people really use those terms interchangeably because they just don't know it's different.

Adnan: [00:19:25] Yeah. Huge difference between jail and prison. Really, really big difference. Prisons a lot more, it has a more permanent feel. Jail has more of a temporary feel because there's a big question mark on your sentence or your time or. 

For three years, I had no idea what I would be sentenced to - almost four years actually - had no idea, like, am I going to spend my life in here? Am I gonna 10 months? Or am I gonna to get acquitted? I just don't know. 

So, even though I spent four years before trial, before I got sent to a state prison, there was still this idea of it being temporary. But once I finally went to prison with a life sentence, like "this is it, I'm going to live and die right here."

Amber: [00:20:01] Okay, so then let's go into Jason's question, which was: Okay, so now you're sent to the prison. Tell us a little bit about that.

Adnan: [00:20:09] So I get sent to the prison. I eventually ended up in Corcoran, which is in rural central California. I think the closest city is Fresno, which is about an hour away from this prison. And I get there - it's a level four - what we call here in California, maximum security prison, where you're sentenced there. If you're a lifer severing, a life sentence, you start off in a maximum-security prison.

Before I got there - I just want to really quickly talk about how I got there specifically because, at that time at least, there was this risk assessment that the administration, the state prison officials did and still do. And this is what the risk assessment was. 

So there's a point system. The higher points I have the higher security level it would go to. So, because I had 25 to life, they gave me double points. They gave me like extra points. So really quick, I just want to say that the number to reach a level four maximum security at that time was like 63 or four or five, something like that. 

So whatever the points where I needed to go lower than 64 or 65 points, not to go to a maximum security prison. However, because I had 25 to life, they double that, which gave me 50 points. I got extra points for being 18, at the time of my crime. I got extra points for not being married or having children. Because I wasn't in the military, I had more points. Because I didn't have a high school diploma or GED, even though I had a GED or high school diploma at the time of this interview, I spent four years in County jail and I ended up getting my GED there. So they gave me more points because I didn't get arrested with the degree. 

So all those things, according to the correction system, said that I was a threat, not to society I'm already in prison, but is a threat to other people, and I belong in a maximum security prison. So here I am, 22 years old. That's the reason why I'm sent to this maximum-security prison.

I remember, like they handed me my linen. I finally get put into a cell. This is my first time ever in a maximum-security prison cell. They put me in there and, uh, there was this six foot, three, 300 plus pound, Samoan gang member from LA. He was like a Crip from LA. And he says, Hey man, we're all in lock-down. I'm like, what do you mean we're on lock-down? He said, well, we're on lock-down because there was a man who was killed in the chapel. 

Now that's how my first two minutes being sentenced to life in a maximum-security prison started. 

Jason: [00:22:16] Welcome to your new home. 

Adnan: [00:22:17] And the point was like, if someone's getting killed in church services, there is no safe place in this facility, and I have to spend the rest of my life, whatever that number is here. 

So, my priority, yes, I would read, pick a books and yes, I would like try to grow and educate myself. My priority immediately - and it always was during my incarceration - it was survival, whatever that meant. So, survival took precedent over everything.

Jason: [00:22:43] You know, what's interesting is, I read one of your blog entries that talked about how you lost a friend recently who had COVID, who is still in prison. And in there, you also talked about how some of the relationships that you developed were pretty meaningful, deeper relationships that you might form with somebody who hasn't lived through that same experience. 

And I was discussing that with Amber. Earlier she read the same thing was touched by it. And the question that struck me was we've heard so many things about people being protective and not really opening up to other people when they're inside of prison. But it sounds like your experience was a little bit different there where you had some people you could really trust and you became really close to. Is that accurate?

Adnan: [00:23:21] Yeah, it's accurate, depending on who, when and where. So, if I was in the maximum-security prison, it was much more toxicity and specifically like toxic masculinity was very relevant and prevalent there. So, it's not like I'm gonna to go and talk to everybody on the prison yard about my childhood and my abuse and trauma.

It wasn't really, until you learn in depth about people, whether either spending time with them in a cell or 12 years later, when I got to a place like San Quentin, which was a lower level prison, which offered - well the prison didn't necessarily offer the prisons - it was a lot of the community based organizers that were coming into this facility that were creating this space for us to talk about our trauma and get some type of healing.

That's where I learned more and more about people. When you're in a maximum-security prison with that environment, is not so much about maximum security prison. It's about a safe space to talk about people who were molested, people who were kidnapped, people who were - literally, I learned that about my friends - people who were abused and beaten with closed fist. I talked about that in the article. 

I sit there and I learn about this person's childhood and they learned about mine and that level of intimacy that we receive from each other. And we become each other's like confidants and like become each other's safety nets, I guess you could say. So I did learn that about people.

There are people who I know in there, I spent three years in a cell with, and I know this person very very well. I know their whole childhood. I know the goodness in their heart, the amends that they're making, the genuine remorse that they have for what they've done. But most of the society doesn't see that.

So it is that proximity that allows me and allows people to really get to know who people are as a whole and beyond the commitment offense that they've done.

Amber: [00:24:54] So I think it's really interesting, kind of what you just said. Cause when we think about prison incarceration, and you know what I refer to as State Harm - because we're really meeting violence with additional violence and caging human beings. They're really relying a lot on community organizations to come in and provide services to people that are being harmed by the system.

So, I think it's really interesting that the safe space that you found was created by outside organizations.

Adnan: [00:25:28] It was supported, I want to say, by outside organizations. 90% of the programs or more, at least in San Quentin, were created by incarcerated people. It was just alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous that was consistently just provided as if that's going to heal everyone's trauma. And not to discredit anything those programs have - I think they have pretty amazing programs - but for some people it's different things for different people. 

There was a group when I got to San Quentin that was called Kid-Kat. It's kids creating awareness together. And basically, the group was created by a bunch of people who are sentenced to life as teenagers.

So here's a bunch of guys who were in their mid-thirties, forties, possibly fifties; were on the tears or in the buildings or on the prison yard and realizing like we've been locked up since literally 14, 15, 16 years old. 

Like me, for example, I learned how to shave in prison. An elderly gentleman taught me how to shave. I didn't know how to shave. My father wasn't around. I didn't have facial hair like that until I was like 18, 19, 20 years old.

Jason: [00:26:23] This is a Podcast, you know, people can't see. It seems like you forgot, you know. 


Adnan: [00:26:29] Yeah, I think so.

Amber: [00:26:30] It's COVID guys. COVID.

Adnan: [00:26:31] It's COVID. It's COVID.

Jason: [00:26:32] So I get this subscription to Harry's razors, it's really cool. They send you new blades all the time.

Adnan: [00:26:37] Send it over. I will love to use that and send that inside as well. 

But you know I learned also that someone coming in at 14, 15, like people had never had a driver's license. Never had a bank account. Never had a debit card. Never been to a prom before. These are like the people who are incarcerated. And then you compound that with the traumas and abuse that they've experienced and suffered.

So this group that I'm using this example, because, this was a group was created by a bunch of those guys were like, Hey, we need to understand our childhood development because we were raised, matured - physically, physiologically, and emotionally - like in prison. 

So, like as a 16, 17, 18, 19-year-old, now 20 years in, what does that development look like. It's different from AA and NA, in my opinion.

So basically, a lot of the programs, 90 plus percent, were created by incarcerated people and were supported by outside organizations.

Jason: [00:27:27] Oh, that's great. And you know, you made a comment before about how most of society doesn't see that, and you were referring to people and really their humanity. And I think that one of the things that you're describing is that people are much more than, and we've said it before, the worst thing that they've ever done. And when you look at it, you find, that a lot of people who have caused harm, have actually had a lot of trauma in their lives that led up to that harm. 

You're no exception. And so, it's amazing how you've been exposed to all of that and you've been able to see these people and see the good in a lot of people who you interacted with.

Adnan: [00:28:01] Yeah, I mean, you get a chance to kind of know the person in their totality as a whole. And I think that once we take people, to use that term: "lock em up", in terms of locking up their personality, or locking up their potential; we never get to see who people really are. 

I can't tell you that you're, I mean, how many of us - committing a crime or not - how many of us are the same people we were before the pandemic, which is just six months ago? How many of us same person that we were five years ago or 10 years ago? How many of us are the same people we were 18 years old? 

It's just different, there's this journey. There's maturity. There's experiences. Different thoughts, different moments that can change the trajectory of someone's life.

I don't even like using the word change. I want to mention that. So, when people ask me this question, "when did you change?" It's a very tough question. I think it comes with the bias itself that once you were bad, something happened and now you're good. And I'll have to like, kind of convince people of; yes, I was bad, this happened in my life, and now let me prove to you that I'm good and I'm worthy.

But really what it is, I like to say that I didn't change. I've evolved. I've matured. I'm still like everything that I was, even with rehabilitation. 

I remember after I got out last year, I was asked to testify in front of a Senate hearing committee here in California at the Capitol. And one of the senators asked me, "wow, you know, great to see you here. It's amazing. Can you tell us why you changed and how rehabilitation worked for you?" And my response was like -I was not frustrated - but my response was that, rehabilitation is not taking a class and beating or killing the monster that's inside of me.

Rehabilitation is actually being reminded of and uplifting the qualities that I've always had, which is: care, empathy, love, humor. Those are all the things I've always had. And it was the trauma that allowed me to, and permitted, and actually subjugated all of that for me. 

Even though that exists, it's not like that it was just completely gone. That existed all the time and it wasn't prison that allowed me to bring that back. It wasn't taking a class, particularly, that allowed me to bring that back, like it was gone. It was always there. It's just that those were the qualities and characteristics of me as a human being that were seen by community, by my peers, and still seen by some parts of society, not all.

Jason: [00:30:09] So you spent what, 16 or 17 years in prison?

Adnan: [00:30:12] 16.

Jason: [00:30:13] 16 years. And that's in addition to the four years?

Adnan: [00:30:17] Collectively 16.

Jason: [00:30:18] Collectively 16 years. And so, if you had to rewrite for somebody else who's identical to you - that was in the same situation, ended up committing a crime - how would you rewrite the script so that the experience was completely different?

Adnan: [00:30:32] You know, that is one of the hardest questions to ask, because I don't want anyone else to harm anybody or commit a crime, ever. So, to rewrite that person's life without rewriting society around that individual, would be a huge miss for me, if I were to do that. 

It's not that I can rewrite a person as completely identical to my story at 18 years old. I have to rewrite everything around them, not just that person's decision. And then I have to rewrite that person's childhood, which means sets of experiences and help and comfort and care and services provided. So it's not a capsule or moment in time that I would rewrite. It would have to be the entire thing and the societal structures as well.

Jason: [00:31:11] That's a beautiful answer.

Amber: [00:31:12] So I think that's a really good point that you're making. Because a lot of people have this idea, you know - like you referred to - that, if somebody commits some sort of act of violence or harms someone else, they just are a bad person. And so, what we really need to be looking at is the act and what conditions were around a person that led them to that act. So, we kind of talk about that all the time. 

And so looking at systems and society and culture and all of those things that contribute to the conditions that have these types of things happening,  is obviously a much better approach to get to the root of the problems, but not easy because it's very complex.

Adnan: [00:31:57] It's very complex. And, you know, people think that once you get sent to prison, that you're going to be punished and harmed, which is absolutely true. What I've also learned is that the system is not created for accountability. There's no space for making amends to the harm that you've done directly to the person you've harmed or making amends indirectly. There's no space for that. To hold someone accountable isn't like, go here and we're going to hurt you. That's not accountability. 

What I've also learned is, a lot of people come from so much violence and suffered so much violence and have committed violence, to where, when you get sent to a prison, it's just a perpetuation of your life already. 

And it's inhumane.

Amber: [00:32:32] It's just more violence. 

Adnan: [00:32:34] It's more violence. 

And what I've found also, was for me, it is much, much easier - or it has been - much, much easier to punch a person in the face versus address my trauma. 

People always want to use worst of the worst. You know, they want to use people with tattoos on their faces and this dangerous gang member. It is much easier in my experience for a gang - I've seen gang members to stab somebody in prison - versus talking about, in a trauma healing way, to say that, "you know what? I was molested at 12 and that's why I joined a gang." It is much easier to stab someone than to say I was molested at 12. 

That's what society fails to realize is what safety truly means. Look at them, they're criminals, they're hurting people, they're in their rioting, they're in, they're stabbing each other. There's reasons for that. 

Jason: [00:33:14] Right.

Adnan: [00:33:14] You know, uh, and people don't never look at that and never look at what true healing truly means. You want people to stop doing what they're doing? You don't enable violence because if that's what's created violence in the first place, enabling it counter-intuitive and counterproductive. 

So the State Violence that you're talking about, Amber, is exactly on point. There's violence upon violence, but they talk about public safety and it just, the math doesn't add up.

Jason: [00:33:37] I'd like to go back to your faith for a minute. So, we talked earlier about, your faith was important to you, and then you're in prison. And when you got in there, there was, uh, something that happened in the chapel. So, were you able to practice your faith? Did you find that there was any discrimination while you were in prison? So, everything that's involved with that.

Adnan: [00:33:59] I mean, there's always a struggle to practice your faith in prison. I mean, specifically, let's talk about religion. And there's always a doubt when it comes to administration. Sure, they have services there. Sure they have space for Muslims to pray, possibly if there isn't lock-down and things like that, or people who have a Christianity background, even Jewish, like there are interchangeable places where people can go and experience that or find religious space for them. 

But the truth is that administratively a lot of times they're like, "Oh, you're faking it. You're still in the prison. You're not a change person." So, it's not necessarily taken too seriously to provide that space for you. 

They also don't understand a journey a person takes. Just cause I pick up a Bible or Koran doesn't mean I'm like immediately pure. As soon as I touched it, there it is, all my periods are gone. 


It's the journey that people go through that don't necessarily get the space or the time that they need to experience that journey or the help that's on top of that. 

For me, I took it upon myself to educate myself, to read books, learn definitions. Like I said, I came in as a high school dropout. To really sit and reflect on my life, on my spirituality, on my morals and my characteristics, on everything. It was just me and finding people around me that can support that, which wasn't always found.

Jason: [00:35:14] You did a lot of reading, not just about the faith. I can tell you did a lot of reading while you were in prison. Am I right?

Adnan: [00:35:19] Yeah. I mean, one of my favorite things to read were biographies or autobiographies about successful people; or famous people, or...

Jason: [00:35:26] What's your favorite book?

Adnan: [00:35:28] I can't say man, and people ask me that question all the time. And I just don't have one. I mean, you know, like reading Steve Jobs, even. I think one of my favorite ones is Einstein's biography and it's not because of the obvious, "Oh, he was Einstein, or he was a genius and the..."

Jason: [00:35:44] Was that the one by Walter Isaacson?

Adnan: [00:35:45] Walter Isaacson. Absolutely.

Jason: [00:35:47] That was a great book.

Adnan: [00:35:48] He actually wrote both of those books that I'm talking about, Steve Jobs. And he did one great one on Benjamin Franklin as well.

Jason: [00:35:53] Yeah, I read that one too.

Adnan: [00:35:54] But the one about Einstein, for me, when Einstein was so into his imagination and creativity. And one of his quotes were - and I'm going to paraphrase this - one of his quotes where that: "imagination is more important than knowledge."

Because he would literally imagine himself next to like - when thinking of the speed of light - of sitting on a rocket, or whatever he was sitting on, and going next to the speed of light. But it was his imagination that allowed him to kind of like think beyond the confines of what he was taught and where he was at.

And so, for me, that meant prison. That meant my cell. That meant a box. 

For a long time, I was on a top bunk of a cell. And I remember, literally measuring, the ceiling from my face was three feet away. And so, it felt like a coffin and it felt everything was closing in. But my imagination was my escape.

The journey of people and how people were thinking and what they went through before their fame or before their success is what always captivated me.

One more thing that I really, really enjoyed reading; it's more than enjoyed. The first book that was handed to me about a day or two in jail, at 18 years old was blood in my eye by George Jackson, who was a revolutionary in the seventies. He was killed in San Quentin. There's a whole history there. Matter of fact yesterday was a memorable day for that time, Angela Davis. 

I mean, that was the first book I read: Blood In My Eye. I could barely read it. It was complicated, it was dense, but I read it. Someone handed to me and it was there, and I read it. And then I read Soledad Brothers and the Hurricane Carter. And then, you know, the counterintelligence program about the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. I mean, those are like the first five or six books that I read in county jail. But what that ended up doing was sparking... Well, first what it did for me was, it made me want to investigate my conditions. 

Very early on it came to a time in my life where I wanted to investigate my condition -not just my emotional and my mental health conditions - but particularly like my physical conditions; jail, prison, the system - why is this like this? Which took me down the path of Fuko and you know, I'm probably going to bore you with all this stuff. I could become a little nerd sometimes when it comes to this. Or really understanding a psychology and philosophy of incarceration and state violence, like you were saying, Amber.

I'm listening to you and I'm just like - GED when you were in jail - and to listen to you speak, it's like you got a PhD in Criminal Justice. It's amazing where you are today.

Amber: [00:38:10] I know the listeners can't see you, but I just like to say, like, just watching you, how passionate you are and how excited you are about the topic and the knowledge that you've gained, is so inspiring. And I can only imagine how infectious it is when people are interacting with you. 

So, let's talk a little bit about what you're doing now.

Jason: [00:38:32] Where he is now. There's a step there that we have to touch on, Amber and that's: you know, so you thought you had a life sentence for the majority of time.

Adnan: [00:38:41] No, I knew I did.

Jason: [00:38:42] Well, you knew you had a life sentence for the majority of time that you were incarcerated. What happened? How did that change? And then answer Amber's question.

Amber: [00:38:54] Jason keeps me honest.


Adnan: [00:38:56] So I knew, because of the felony murder rule, that I would have to do at least 25 years before I even appeared before a parole board. Which is a possible opportunity to go home. And even though I appealed my case - even during my appeals, it was like, let me just try it - I knew that it would not be an appeal that would get me out because in an appeal of the court has to make an error. And the court didn't make an error. According to the law, they did everything right. 

I was sentenced to life because the felony murder rule, because it said that if you're guilty of an intent to commit a robbery equals 25 to life. I always knew at the age of 18, when I learned about the felony murder rule, the felony murder rule, it had to be amended abolished somehow some way, if I have a shot at going home before that. 

So, I knew that and even tried to research it. And one of the first stories that I heard about while I was still in County jail, before I was convicted, was Brendan Hines case. And this gentleman was felony murder and he was, I didn't know who he was, but that was the first time I heard someone advocating about that this law is wrong.

And I was like, wow, someone believes that this law is not right. Does not negate accountability for me, but I just knew that 25 to life and how just things went, that was my only way out. 

Fast forward way, way, way down the line about 12, 13 years later, when I got to San Quentin and that group that I was telling about earlier.

So, there was an organization coming in when I, when I was in San Quentin, from human rights watch. And there was this woman named Alex Malik. So Alex was working at human rights watch, and Alex would come into the prison, in this particular class and this program. And what we were doing was, there were a lot of laws and legislation that was changing around people who were sentenced to life as teenagers, and not to bore you with numbers and Senate bills, but just to name it, it was Senate bill 260, 261. And these little things were slowly changing over the course. 

And so, one day Alex asked me, like, "How long do you have before you go home?" And I said, "Hey, um, I have about 12 or 13 more years before I appeared before a parole board. And the only way for me to go home is if we change the felony murder rule." and she just says, "All right, let's try, let's do it." And I'm like, "Yeah, let's do it." 

So, we ended up creating a space in San Quentin, where there was a media center where they had the San Quentin newspaper, Ear Hustle. And I created a project with Alex to called First Watch, which is a video project. Imagine incarcerated people walking around with cameras and filming our own narratives, right. And editing it and it's on YouTube. 

So simultaneously what we were doing, we were trying to start a way to get the felony murder rule amended or passed. So she would come in with information and research and I would look at it and study it and then we would strategize. And then that's when we created this organization called Restore Justice, which was a nonprofit. And we wanted to create a space and a structure for us to continue doing this law or trying to change it. 

And next thing you know, like there was, this first phase was a resolution that we had to get through and I'm reading the resolution that was written by an attorney that we hired. I fundraised from prison, brought in funders, brought in people to have a foundation of Restore Justice. All the way down to color. She came in with like print outs of the website. She was like, "Look, how do you want this?" "What color do you want?" Like, we don't want orange, cause that's too prisonee. We don't want green, cause that's correctional officers. How about Tio? Let's just keep it teal because we work with survivors and victims of crime, in our work. And so, all the way down to the logo. Oh, I like the colon between R and J. 

And so, as we co-founded that, the resolution of the felony murder at that time turned into a bill called Senate bill 1437, where our Senator in Berkeley, Nancy Skinner picked it up, put her name on it. We continued to work. 

I remember there was a part where the senators needed data. They said “How many people are the non-killer under felony murder rule?” So, when we asked corrections, "Hey, can you give us data on how many people are the non-killer under felony murder rule?" They didn't have that. Cus if you came into the system as a killer or non-killer of a crime, you were just in together. And so, when we say, "Hey, can we ask you guys to give us research?", they said "Oh no." You know, just a bunch of run around. 

So, what we ended up doing was in, in the brilliance of Alex, we made our own survey. I wrote it with Alex back there in the media center and did the little checkbox on the line piece of paper about different little questions on the survey. She prints it out. She brings it back. I edit it. 

And what she ended up doing was, handing it to a bunch of advocates and even chaplains and Imams and rabbis that go into facilities, and they took a copy. They literally, many of them, hid it and brought it in - let's just say that - and handed it out to one person and they ended up, you know, making copies. Next thing, you know, in our office outside, thousands of research slips were coming back. 

So we end up doing our own research and we found out that - this is the most shocking statistics that I learned. Was, 72% of women, in California prison for homicide, are the non-killer. 72%.... serving a life sentence.

Amber: [00:43:49] That's astounding.

Adnan: [00:43:50] Astounding. And they didn't have the data. We had to do that ourselves by sneaking in surveys. 

And then we got the number and I just want to say that it took a while, and while this is going on, I'm learning the legislative process, right. Okay, it's a resolution. Now it's a Senate bill. It has to get through appropriation. I had to get to public safety, appropriations, Senate floor. Then it goes to the assembly. 

So, we went through the three stages. It took about a year, almost - actually three years from the beginning of the inception of us kicking off this law, creating an organization and then pushing it - you know, to just every stage of it. We have 40 senators in California, finally gets passed the majority Senate floor on the third phase of the Senate. 

It goes into the assembly, which is now 80 people, and the same three stages: public safety, appropriations, assembly floor. 

So, in August of 2018, It's at its last stage - the bill - and it's final hearing. We need 41 votes out of 80 in the assembly. And I'm still in San Quentin. I'm still locked up. Alex and our bunch of advocates have jumped on onboard. Bunch of organizations, bunch of people are now like helping this for a while, like push this through.

Jason: [00:44:56] Are you the poster boy for this? I mean, do they have pictures of you and?

Adnan: [00:44:59] Um, yes and no. I also wanted to be mindful because you can't be an activist in prison. So, while I was actually in San Quentin, I tried to hide it as much as possible that we were the ones. Cus I could get sent to the hole, or I don't know for whatever reason.

Amber: [00:45:11] Wow.

Jason: [00:45:12] Yeah, it's scary.

Adnan: [00:45:13] Yeah. Lot of people didn't know that I was a co-founder of the organization till way later. Or that we were doing this, even though we had a space where we're doing the videos and we were doing other events, with survivors and victims, which I haven't spoken about yet. 

Anyways, the last night that it's supposed to get voted on after almost a year, two years of hard work; the vote gets to vote number 38. And then gets to like 39. We actually got 39 to vote. We need two more. 

It's almost like midnight, I think, or late night, and they're going to take it off the voting cycle or whatever. Like, okay, we're kind of done, that's it. And mind you, if we get 40 votes, that tie goes to the assembly, not us, which means we have to start all the way from the beginning. Rewind. Go back two years, start the bill again, and all of that. 

Then it finally got to 39. They almost took it off. Actually, they'd take it off. They were asked to put the Senate bill back on four votes. Then we got 40. Then, you know, a bunch of little phone calls and texts happened in between, and they almost took it off. And then boom, they got the 41st vote. 

And that's how the law ended up passing and almost didn't pass. I wasn't even there. And this is the story that Alex was telling me. It passes. We get a 41st boat. Some other assembly member jumped on board way late and got the 42nd vote, which didn't matter. And then it ends up passing, however... 

So, the next morning someone comes to my cell, I'm brushing my teeth. They're like, "Hey man, uh, congratulations, it passed", right. And this person apparently had a cell phone and he was following along and stuff. And though I was excited and I was like - great, it passed - I just knew that there's going to be opposition, even though it passed. I knew it was the opposition. So, I was not excited. It's not like as if I'm going home. I didn't believe that or feel that immediately. 

So, mind you, this is in August. And the law actually doesn't go into effect until January 2nd, officially, even though it passes, that's like the legal calendar. So, I knew that yes, it passed in August. I still have several months. And during those several months, opposition came hard. District attorneys are saying, it's unconstitutional. It couldn't be done this way. Judges are denying it. I mean, all of this nonsense is happening. 

One night in January, I fell asleep and I remember falling asleep around 11:00 PM. I was awakened at 12:40 AM by a Correctional Officer. And in San Quentin, there's five floors or tears. I lived on the fifth tier. 12:40 AM, Correction Officer wakes me up and he says, "Hey Khan", he slides two clear trash bags under myself. And he says, "Hey, pack your stuff. county jail people are coming to pick you up. " And I'm like, "No, this is wrong. This is a mistake. It was a clerical error. Can you call your superior - your Sergeant Lieutenant - and tell him this is a mistake, that I refuse, I don't want to go to county jail? Place where I spent four years; I'm not going back there, it's hell. I'm comfortable here, right, in my cell in San Quentin. I created an organization I'm just doing well. I don't want to go there for no reason. Why are you taking me there?" 

So, the poor guy walks downstairs. 10 minutes later, he comes back and says, "Hey man, I called my superior and they said that it's a different jurisdiction. County jail is coming to pick you up. So, the County jail versus state prison. And they said the different jurisdiction is coming to pick you up. We can't do anything about it. 

So, I'm like, ah, very angry and frustrated. Also want to say that when you go out to court, that's what they call it. OTC out to court. You always come back because you are quote-unquote state property. And so even though I was gone, I was like, uh, I don't know when I'm going to come back.

So, I ended up packing most of my stuff; my essential that I needed, all my writings and everything I've been doing for 16 years at that time. And just left my food and hygiene items and clothes to my cellee because I knew I was going to come back. Or assumed I was going to come back. 

Anyways, next morning, I'm in the bullpen until like 4:00 AM waiting for the van to come get me. The van comes, gets me. They belly chained me, put me in a dark van where I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face - inside of a cage in a van - by the way. I remember there was this part where we're going over the bridge - I could feel we're going over a bridge. And I remember thinking to myself, if we crash, there is no way they're going to come back here and unlock this door and then unlock this cage that's in this van. Those thoughts were coming to my mind. 

Finally get to county jail, still angry, frustrated, why am I here? I'm in a paper jumpsuit. I'm in a bullpen or intake cell, which is crowded with people, shoulder to shoulder, very small and a toilet. People are sleeping on the floor. 

Mind you I've got 16 years incarcerated. There are people who are coming in that are incarcerated for an hour or half an hour. Just got locked up. Just that dynamic, like, wow, I remember this, and I don't know what their journey is going to be like in the next over months or years. 

I haven't slept. I didn't eat. I was in this intake holding cell until midnight. I got there at 9:00 AM in the county jail bullpen or intake sale. 12 midnight I was put into a cell. 4:00 AM I'm awaken and told that you're going to court, to be put in another bullpen. So, for about 48 hours, I ate a piece of bologna sandwich and a carton of milk and barely slept for about two days. 

I get into the courtroom and my attorneys there.

And before I got into the courtroom, apparently my family and my friends and Alex, I told my cellee to call them, "Here's the number. I'm going to County jail. Can you tell them they sent me to County jail? So apparently a whole bunch of them came just to show support to the judge, like he has family, he has support.

 I get into the courtroom. It's empty, except for my attorney. The bailiff says, "Sit down, don't look behind you. Just look straight. Your family or whoever's out there is going to come walking in. You're not allowed to look back. Just keep looking straight and wait for the judge to come in." 

Jason: [00:50:31] Oh my God.

Adnan: [00:50:32] So, right before the judge comes in, I turned to my attorney. First thing that I asked her is like, "Hey, is the victim's family here?" I didn't want to re-victimize or harm the family that I haven't seen, or they haven't heard from me in years. And whether I either had to say something to the judge, or even just seeing my physical body there, I was concerned about re-victimizing them or having the right to say anything. And not legal right, but just a mental and emotional right. I don't know if I have that or not. So, I asked her "Are they here?" And she said, "No, they're not here." 

So, then my next question was, "Hey, okay, as soon as this hearing or whatever this is, is over, can you please send me back to state prison? I don't want to be here." I remember telling her, like, "I don't want to be here." I told her "The super bowl is next week. I just want to watch the super bowl in San Quentin. So can you please send me back to San Quentin and tell them to ship me immediately after this hearing." She says, "yeah, I got you. I'll take care of all of that." So that was my concern was a Superbowl, to watch that following week in my cell in San Quentin. 

Literally seconds later, in walks the judge. It's the same judge that sentenced me to 25 to life. She walks in, she walks in and she says, "Okay, Mr. Khan, I looked at the new legislation that passed. I've looked at your case. And so, what I'm going to do is I'm going to re-sentence you, for the robbery, to three years. And since you've done more than five times that amount, I'm going to release you today.

Amber: [00:51:48] Huuuh. Wow.

Adnan: [00:51:50] And I just froze. I could hear cries and gasps behind me. I'm holding back this burst of tears and just. You know, I've said this before, but you know, the term, um, "unbelievable"? Like everything registered. I heard it. I know what she said. But that term never fit more perfectly in my life, "unbelievable", then that moment.

And yeah, it was like, "are you kidding me? Like, you're telling me I'm not serving a life sentence." It was just crazy. Like, I just wanted to go back to San Quinn and watch the Superbowl, and seconds later, you're telling me you're releasing now, today. 

And then my attorney even said, "Hey, Your Honor. "Like "You didn't mention anything about parole or probation. Can you stipulate that?" Oh, she says, "No, he's done five times that amount, I'm not putting him on parole or probation. That's excessive." She says, "Good luck, Mr. Khan." And she told my family, "He has a few minutes to process out or hours. So, you may want to get him some clothes." And about an hour or so later, I'm walking out and going over where the Bay Bridge, the bridge that I grew up on in the city, I grew up on, in a car with Alex. 

By the way, which I didn't mention, we had this secret love relationship inside. So it was, it was literally her love. That's my wife now. And that's what I have a child with.

Jason: [00:52:54] Ohhhhh!

Amber: [00:52:55] I just, I can't even. I'm like in tears over here. Like, this is crazy. That is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard in my life.

Jason: [00:53:02] The human rights attorney.

Adnan: [00:53:04] Well, she wasn't an attorney. She was an advocate in working on the Northern California Chapter of Human Rights. And then we both co-founded the organization. It was literally her deep sense of love for me that wanted to change this law. And she, you know, she's brilliant by the way. And then the law changes and we have this, which is a story will come out some other day, but this, um, very difficult love relationship for about three years. And difficult in terms of the setting and we just wanted to pass the law and, and it was illegal. Mind you, she's not coming to visit me in a visit room. She's coming into the facility.

Jason: [00:53:35] Yeah, but she saw something in you and the two of you were able to do something miraculous. And now you have a child. Congratulations.

Adnan: [00:53:42] Now we have a child. 

And I just want to say too, there's approximately at least 2000 people that eventually -once all this stuff is litigated or stipulated, the legality of it. There'll be approximately 2000 people plus, that will benefit from this law.

Jason: [00:53:54] Wow.

Amber: [00:53:55] Wow. If that's not inspiring, I just don't even know what it is. I really just don't. I'm flabbergasted, because I don't think I knew this. Obviously, I didn't.

Jason: [00:54:04] Well, what an incredible story, Adnan. 

We're getting close to the end of the hour. I just want to ask you; you mentioned a couple of projects. What would you like to promote? Do you want to talk about how people can find you on social media, what projects you want people to support? This is your opportunity to really plug all those things.

Adnan: [00:54:24] I don't particularly have a project to support. If there is one, I would want to encourage people - I'm not sure if there could be a link you could set up - but back in March, our organization created a Facebook page called "Give Directly Canteen Support for Incarcerated People", during times of COVID, particularly.

So basically, if you have a family member, you can punch their name, prison number and their location, and it'll go on like a database. And there are donors and funders who will come on and give money directly to that person's account so they can go to canteen. So basically if you have a loved one that's inside, you can put their name in this account and if you are a donor, please check that out and donate to people directly so they can buy hygiene items and they can buy essential food for themselves during these hard times. And that's the only thing I would want to promote. Other than that, check me out on Twitter at AKHAN1437.

So that's why I have 1437. It's the Senate bill 1437.

Jason: [00:55:19] Ahh. And If you could email me that link for the donations, we'll get that into the notes.

Amber: [00:55:24] Yeah, that's a wonderful project and so important in these times of COVID-19 when it's important for people to have soap, and all the items that they may not be able to get. And they're so disconnected from family. So that's amazing.

Jason: [00:55:38] So, before we wrap up, is there anything else that we've really missed that you wanna make sure you get out there and.

Adnan: [00:55:44] I don't particularly have anything else to add besides a thank you and, and gratitude for giving me this space. 

I know for a fact I was rambling today, because I had this huge cup of coffee during this interview. And I told myself don't do that because I ended up just talking really, really fast and getting overexcited. So I apologize for that. Let me know if there's anything else you can.

Amber: [00:56:04] No apologies necessary.

Jason: [00:56:06] Yeah, thank you so much for coming on and talking with us. Your story is truly incredible. What you've been through, what you were able to accomplish, the fact that you found your life partner and you have a family and you're, you know, you thought you were facing a lifetime being incarcerated and you're out here and you're advocating for others. And you're, you know, we see you on Twitter all the time, talking about people and really putting human stories to the people that are still facing extended punishment. 

So thank you for all the work that you do. Thank you for coming on. And it was a pleasure talking to you.

Adnan: [00:56:39] Thank you, Amber. Thank you, Jason, for having me and allow me to express my story to you.

Jason: [00:56:43] Until next time, Amber.

Amber: [00:56:45] We'll see you next time, Jason.

Outro: [00:56:55] You've been listening to amplified voices. A podcast, lifting the experiences of people and families impacted by the criminal legal system. 

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