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Byron was just 22 when state authorities came to arrest him. As the only child of globetrotting parents he'd seen a lot of the world, but the maximum-security prison where he found himself was like nowhere else. The noise and the violence felt overwhelming. But somehow, through all these long years, Byron's held himself together.
His positivity and humor inspire friends and loved ones. Practicing Zen Buddhism might help, but Byron always had a peaceful nature. He's slow to get frustrated or angry, and these feelings, when they do show themselves, never come out as violence.
One thing that he says really helps is having a creative spirit that lets him express himself. A 2012 Slate article called Byron "an articulate and prolific writer." The first thing he ever published ran in The Kansas City Star, the newspaper where he interned at 16. His essays and poems have since appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies, and online. His first book came out in 2013, a collection of writings from prison, titled The Pariah's Syntax: Notes from an Innocent Man. Today he's working on a novel. Even with no cellphone or Internet, he manages to blog and tweet.
At Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center, where Byron's been kept since 2018, his full-time job is to help maintain the small network that broadcasts movies and TV series inside the facility. He also writes, produces, edits, and appears in original programs that show to the prison population.
Somewhere in the middle of all that Byron finds time to watch a good movie once in a while, read, draw and paint, and maintain relationships with those of us who are happy to have him in our lives.
Byron has so much to offer the world. We wish he were out here, sharing and celebrating this life with us.
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