Before his death, Rayshard Brooks gave an interview that exposed his true feelings on the legal system. He gave the interview back in February to a company called Reconnect according to reports.
Reconnect focuses on fighting incarceration.
The company had posted an ad on Craigslist, looking for people to share their stories about navigating the criminal justice system.
Brooks answered the call.
In the video, Brooks passionately discusses searching for redemption and a better life. He reflects on his incarceration and speaks openly about the struggles he faced that put him there.
“I just feel like some of the system could, you know, look at us as individuals. We do have lives, you know, was just a mistake we made, you know, and, you know, not, not just do us, as if we are animals. You know lock us away.”
The Reality of Criminality
Brooks said that he was arrested for false imprisonment and financial credit card fraud. He also said his public defender told him he could get 10 years, so he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison.
“I’m like, ‘oh my God, I have kids out here’ … so I’m trying to do the best option I can to be back to society,” he said.
Brooks described being locked up 23 hours a day and told when to wake up and where to go. He said it “messed” with his mental state.
“Going through that process, it hardened me at a point, you know to like, hey, you know, I have to have my, my guard up because the world is cruel, you know, it took me through seeing different things and, you know, in the system you know it just, just makes you harden to a point,” he recalled.
Brooks was critical of the criminal justice system. He detailed how parole and probation did nothing to help him escape his prison record. His experience of looking for a job echoes millions of people who have a criminal record stopping them.
“You go to filling out your application and you get to this question, ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime or have you ever been arrested?’ And, you know, you sit in there like, ‘oh my God … ‘I hope this doesn’t, you know, hinder me from getting this job’… Then you finish up the application and you have some employers that come back to you: ‘Well Mr. Brooks, unfortunately, we can’t hire you due to the fact that you’ve been incarcerated or you’ve been … arrested for this and that.’
“Your heart just breaks,” he said. “You put up so much energy, you have so much hope, you’re going out trying to provide.”
Brooks added, “They’re not funding us, you know, they’re not saying ‘hey let’s give him a check … maybe some type of help towards him getting himself back together’ … It’s just a lot of pressure. You know with, you know, just having all of that on your shoulder and on your back … Some people they just can’t deal with it. You know some people say, you know, they’re considering suicide.”
Brooks admitted that he was deep in debt when he got out. Between court fees and restitution fees, he still had to provide for his wife and children. Brooks needed some help, but the way the system is set up you rarey receive it.
“I feel like it should be offered, you know, to certainly, I mean, every individual who has been through these things to be assigned to a certain person to help guide, you know, I mean that’s what probation but probation is not there with you every day, like a mentor or something.
“They’re not taking you out to find a job, you have to do these things on your own, you know, and I feel like it should be a way for you to have some kind of person like a mentor assigned to you to, you know, keep your track, keep you in the direction you need to be going … yet I’m out now and I have to try to fend for myself.”
Brooks never lost his hope for a better life until it as stolen. Rayshard Brooks proves that systemic racism exists on all levels and extinguishes the lives of those working to regain their humanity.
“I’m trying, you know, I’m not the type of person to give up. You know, and I’m gonna keep going until I make it to where I want to be.”