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Hole In The Heart: A Love Stronger Than Prison Walls

A Black man with glasses in blue prison clothes looks down at a love letter on a desk, with a contemplative look.
bf thames / Uncuffed
Rodney Hines reads a letter from his first love inside Solano State Prison.

Do you remember the moment you saw your first love? Rodney Hines sure does. He was 13 years old, and it was the 4th of July. His parents took him to their friends’ house where he saw Shani Browning. For the next two decades, their lives each resembled a rollercoaster ride with dramatic ups and downs,

One day on the yard at Solano State Prison, Hines was recounting the details of how the relationship with his childhood crush transformed into a tragic love affair. Uncuffed producer Anthony Ivy realized he needed to get Hines into the studio to tell his story.

A mountain fell on me, man. Because, you know, that's one of the worst things...especially with us being in prison, is for somebody close to us to have some type of condition that could affect their life or possibly take their life, you know what I'm saying? And you not be able to be there with them. So, it hurt. It hurt deep
Rodney Hines

On this episode of Uncuffed, producers at Solano State Prison respond to that piece, and share their own experiences of loss.

This story was produced by Anthony Ivy with help from Andrew Stelzer, Sonia Paul, Kathy Novak, Angela Johnston, Ninna Gaensler-Debs, and sound designer Eric 'Maserati-E 'Abercrombie.

This piece was brought to you by the team at Uncuffed. Our work in prisons is supported by the California Arts Council, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and donations from listeners like you. The producers fact-check content to the best of their ability. Content is approved by an information officer.

Follow @WeAreUncuffed on Instagram and Facebook.

Learn more, sign up for Uncuffed news, and support the program at www.weareuncuffed.org

Uncuffed Personal StoriesFrom The Producers Of Uncuffed
Anthony Ivy is originally from North Stockton, California. He is a producer for Uncuffed and was rcently released from prison after a 13 year sentence. While incarcerated, Anthony worked and produced many stories from the inside. Since Anthony's release, he is continuing the road to success from the other side of the walls.
Brian “bf” Thames has published five non-fiction books while incarcerated over the last 30 years. A pending 6th book advocating self-reliance and better decision making in potentially dangerous encounters is on the way. Learning languages is an exciting pastime for him. He’s become reasonably fluent in French, conversational in Spanish, and learned ASL during the Covid-19 pandemic. His favorite animals are Great Danes, and any variation of parrots/parakeets. Acquiring general knowledge and education about the world and existence tends to make him giddy.
Walter "Jay" Evans Jr. is from Palm Springs CA. Born in 1975, he has been imprisoned since 1995. During this term, he has written plays, acted in a Shakespeare class, and earned a paralegal certificate from The Blackstone Career Institute. His intent in working with Uncuffed is to learn as much as he can and take it into the free world. He has plans to earn a broadcast journalism degree, or take the bar exam. He has written model legislation, and is a contributor to the ACLU, Anti-Defamation League, and Initiate Justice.

An avid listener of radio, award winning podcaster, and published author, Bryan Mazza spends his time writing, teaching, and training service animals for those in need. A native of California, Mazza uses his experiences to help others and to shape his artistic perspective in his many endeavors in both radio and creative writing.
Stories from inside California prisons