ALLEGHENY COUNTY JUSTICE SYSTEM 22 I GET UP EVERY DAY AND GO TO WORK.That’swhatadults  do, right? I joined the Trade Institute program in February to get skilled in masonry and carpentry. I build brick ovens to bake pizza and bread. It’s an old tradition. Now I’m learning how to make that into a business, researching and meeting people. I’m 45 years old. I was born in Pittsburgh, then grew up in Florida, Atlanta and Alabama. I enrolled at Tuskegee University there, but used my student loan money to buy drugs. I returned here in my late teens. I still have a lot of family in town, but my mother passed away in 2016. My first conviction was a year for selling marijuana and crack cocaine on the South Side in the early 1990s. I was a flourishing drug dealer, 19 years old, making $150,000 a year. I was a businessman. For the next conviction, I got three to 36 years, but it was a split sentence, so I served three years, then probation. Altogether, I’ve had 18 incarcerations. I’ve been shot in the head. At one point, my 15-year-old son was in the same pod as me at the county jail. That was hard. You don’t show your child this. Now he’s at Pine Grove SCI [a state prison for juvenile offenders], serving five to 10 years for homicide. I have nine kids, from age 3 to 24. Five of them I don’t see; they’ve been taken away, someone else takes care of them. I didn’t have a father, no real role model. But no one raised me wrong. My mom gave me everything. I was actually in the Trade Institute program before, two years ago. I’dbeenattheRenewalCenter[atransitionserviceforex-offenders]fortwo months, but went back to jail for something I didn’t do. I had a dirty urine test[whichviolatedparole].Thatmeantanothersix-monthstint.Mydaughter cried.Shesaid,“Youpromisedyouwouldn’tgobacktojail.”WhileIwasinjail, SteveSheltoncameintotalktotheguysonmypod.Helookedatmeandsaid, “Iknowyou.”HetoldmetocomeandseehimwhenIgotout,lastNovember. I didn’t do that right away. When you get out, everybody wants to feed you — “Come on over to eat.” You see old friends; they want to help you. A friend put money and a gun in my hand. “I got ya,” he said. That’s what I used to do: take care of others. But the hustling lifestyle is no good if you care about your kids. Now I’m taking responsibility. It’s on me. I need to be here for my kids. I wasn’t before. So I called Steve. This time I got through the [introductory program] in seven weeks, instead of 10. The other guys said, “Why do you learn this so fast?” I messed with them — I didn’t tell them I’d been here before. At first, I wasn’t living in a good place. There were crackheads arguing at two o’clock in the morning and I had to get up at seven for work. Steve kept asking me, “Where are you staying? You OK?” He helped me find a better place. This work is hard. I have $3,000 in the bank and I feel broke. It’s tugging on me, the old lifestyle, the old vices and desires. But Steve has helped me and my family, too. I’ve had two cousins and my older brother here, and three nephews, but one got kicked out today. I got off parole May 29. I’m on probation now. My biggest thing is to get done what needs to be done, every day, to make me a better man. The other things will fall into place. It’s different now. I was surviving. Now, to live means something more. Ronnell Miller 23 AstoldtoChristineH.O’Toole,afeatureandtravelwriterbasedinPittsburgh TheTradeInstituteofPittsburgh 77% 13% Individuals in Jails, National and Allegheny County African Americans in the population of Allegheny County 58% African Americans in the population of Allegheny County Jail NationalJails 62% Unconvicted 38% Allegheny CountyJail* 81% Unconvicted Youth in juvenile justice system for nonviolent offenses *The definition of “unconvicted individuals” includes people in the Allegheny County Jail who are detained in the jail awaiting trial for their new crime plus awaiting a violation hearing. 19% Convicted Convicted