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Former inmate turned activist discusses the struggles of life outside of prison


In 1969, Dorsey Nunn was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man. After serving 12 years of his sentence, Nunn was paroled in 1981. Back on the outside, he realized there was very little help for him or people like him to make new lives. He took matters into his own hands and started working with other formerly incarcerated people to address issues of employment, education, and voting rights. 

In 2003, he founded All of Us or None, an advocacy group that has won victories in its “Ban the Box” campaign, which seeks to eliminate questions about past incarceration on job and housing applications.

KALW’s Hana Baba talked to Dorsey Nunn about what it means to be a formerly incarcerated person and what it was like when he first stepped out of prison at the age of 31.

DORSEY NUNN: Y'all don't have a clue that [the prison] population could be millions of people and in that millions of people there could be brilliant people. And we shouldn't have the ability or think that we should have the right to throw that many people away, throw that genius away because what we can see is that our communities have already been devastated.

Click the player above to listen to the full interview.

Crosscurrents prison
Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.