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Saint Stephen

Saint Stephen

Common recidivism is one of the most devastating things I’ve encountered here.  The idea that one would not just risk, but lose their freedom more than once is something that occupies my mind constantly.  I’ve thought long and hard as to the reasons why; in part, because most of them are really smart guys and I’m a little confused as to why intelligent men would ever put themselves in a position to come back to this shit hole.

Mainly because I can guarantee I won’t be coming back.  Ever.

I’ve tried to identify the problem in order to avoid it.  I’d estimate that about 90% of the fellas here are on their 2nd, if not 3rd, trip to the rodeo, and I’ve found that most of them fall into one of four categories:

1) Those that have served 10+ years. The difficulty of living one way for a decade, no matter how shitty, and then being thrown into a world where everything down to the basic currency is different leads them back to a life (in prison) that they know. This is simpler than it sounds if you think about it.  I’ve known people that have stayed in abusive relationships for years, just because a world that’s different scares the shit out of them.

2) Those that have crummy luck. There’s a guy here that got violated because he was 30 minutes late to work (missed the bus) and his PO decided to go to his house at the exact moment he wasn’t at work.  These stories are a lot more common than you’d think.

3) Those who surrender to the microscopic odds of finding a job with the word “Felon” branded across our foreheads. Even if the economy wasn’t crap, it’s a monumental feat to have our resumes taken seriously with that little box checked. I’ve found that most of those who fall into this category didn’t come back for lack of trying. But when a man has a family to feed, well… what would you do? (Serious question)

4) The forgotten with no one to love. Doing time is easy for these. They don’t miss anyone… which, to me, is incarceration in a nutshell:  the forced absence of those you love. Take that factor out of the punishment equation, and prison isn’t prison… it’s free room and board, with some cop telling you when to piss.

I was contemplating number four 4 when one of the only three stations we’re able to pick up here started their Grateful Dead hour and played an eerily appropriate song, the one that inspired this painting:

Saint Stephen with a rose
In and out of the garden he goes
Country garland in the wind and rain
Wherever he goes the people all complain

Stephen prosper in his time
Well he may and he may decline
Did it matter? Does it now?
Stephen would answer if he only knew how

Be good to each other,

- D

*Author’s note:  Paint for Saint Stephen generously donated by the homie Ghost… before he got sent to the hole for some shit he didn’t do.

Aside from being my mental lifeline to the outside, this blog is an effort to help provide my beautiful son, Orion, with a little support while I am away. Any profit generated by the Ads on this blog get split between him and a charity that builds wheelchair accessible playgrounds for disabled children.

Aside from that, my spirit pretty much survives on sincere correspondence from the outside world. Letters sent by anyone are more valuable to me than clean socks. Write me, and I'll write you back.

Dante Orpilla #49007-112

feel free to use my art, but please
consider a small donation
towards my situation.


On June 16th, 2010, I was sentenced to serve 28 months in a Federal Penitentiary, for possessing with intent to distribute a Class A narcotic. This blog is a visual representation of that experience. Please enjoy responsibly.


For the better part of my life I have operated under the beautiful assumption that mans greatest gift is his ability to create. And so I do. My name is Dante. I am an artist, a musician, a writer and, above all, a very proud father.

Please note that messages are sent in writing to Blackmarket Arts and due to his situation he will not be able to respond. If you would like to begin a correspondence, please write to him.

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