Four plus years later, the young man was paroled; his gang grew into one of the largest in their area. Crack was king, low-level dealers easily made a thousand dollars a day without even trying, but the young man had a plan, he wanted to talk to the younger crowd and let them know his story, so his first stop was the local high school. As soon as he stepped into the Administrative Office, the Principal took one look at him and went ballistic telling him to leave campus or go to jail; he didn’t give the Young Man a chance. 

Not to be deterred the Young Man looked for a job, 7 days searching, and 7 days awaiting calls. On the 8th day, he’d call and in standard English he’d inquire about the possibility of interviews, only to be told the position had been filled. This was an era of, “have you ever been convicted of a felony” (on job applications), and if you wrote yes, well, end of story. He’d then have a cousin call the same place and inquire if there were any job openings? The reply 98% of the time would be, “Yes come on down and fill out an application.” 

Well the young man still had not given up so he decided to go to school, he subsequently enrolled in South-Land Career Medical College with the hopes of becoming a respiratory technician, one night he and the Instructor were talking and in a moment of candor the young man mentioned he’d been to state prison, the instructor informed him of how difficult it would be for him to find employment in the medical field with a record such as his.

The young man developed an attitude of, “if you don’t work you don’t eat,” gotta get it how I live, so to the old neighbor-hood he went, for not only was it familiar, it was everyone was eating except for him. 

This young man was a beast in every sense of the word; state prison desensitized him to violence; he began selling crack and the enemies of his gang learned to fear him even more, for he constantly assaulted them. A firearm became his best friend, his prison ties to other gang members placed him in a category above his age group (his fellow gang members). He became a gang member’s gang member, a complete walking nightmare.

Life for the young man was sleep, eat, and breathe the gang lifestyle. He subsequently went back to prison; it became repetitive, a way of life: prison, freedom, sell drugs, shoot enemies of the gang, party, and live for the day.

All the while the years slipped away and the young man who initially came to prison The little homee became The Big Homee, with a street reputation intact. The man (no longer The Young Man) learned what insanity was/is, if you beat your head against a wall constantly and think over time you’ll get a different result, then you’re insane in every sense of the word. It took 12 years of incarceration for the man to figure this out.

I don’t really know that young man any longer. For you see, that young man was me and in a 12-year span with a few years to go, I’m proud to say I really no longer know that young man. The Man I know now is one who has multiple college degrees, knows himself spiritually, mentally, and physically; is an author, writes a blog, loves God and family first, has been blessed to have the opportunity to utilize his intellect and write Darnell’s Corner with the hopes of helping someone who may be going through anything in life, and this man no longer subscribes to his former lifestyle.

I’ve been incarcerated for 12 long years and I’ve had time to reflect on my life’s errors, I’ve had time to introspect & retrospect; by FINALLY waking up, I know what I’m going to do and what I’m not going to do with the remaining years of my life with which The Creator shall bless me. It’s a plan for me, I’m confident in this and an error is a life-lesson.

I’ve had several lifetimes’ worth of errors, all self-inflicted. When you stop blaming others and examine yourself, then and only then can you correct yourself.


Perhaps this title is warranted; yes, I have transformed. My name is Brian Darnell Berkley Sr., not the whole litany of street names I once went by. I’m a man who’s physically been incarcerated for 12 years, yet liberated mentally for four years plus. Honesty with self, first, and then others is always the best policy. Yes, in only these past 4 years plus have I transformed me, but that young man, he died a long time ago and this man of 2015 hopes you, the reader of Darnell’s Corner, will continue to be so. And witness more growth of this man. Perhaps Darnell’s Corner will bring growth to you as it does me.

On that note, sometimes again, sometimes again.


Brian Darnell, Sr.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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