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Crosscurrents

‘Lifer’ brings 52 years of prison to the stage

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by Zboralski, used under CC BY-SA 3.0
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Wikimedia Commons
San Quentin State Prison

Oakland resident Glenn Bailey is 85 years old. He spent 52 of those years in the penal system. Bailey was in an out of jail for most of his life, and he’s never denied the crime that got him in the longest — a double homicide.

Inside prison, Bailey formed friendships and when he was up for parole he didn’t lie. Not only did he believe he should be in prison, he wasn’t angry at the system that put him there. And, he says, owning up brought him peace and strength. Bailey became a mentor and educator to younger prisoners, and now that he’s out his life story has been adapted to theatre.

The play "Lifer" by the Lower Bottom Playaz  is the story of Bailey from his youth in Oakland to his prison life. Playwright Dr. Ayodele Nzinga wrote the play- she joined me in studio, along with Glenn Bailey, to tell me more about Lifer.

You can catch the play "Lifer" this Saturday at Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland.

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