Halim Flowers transformed his life while serving two life sentences. His inspiring story shows that regardless of what bad decisions a person has made in the past, a person can work to improve. Halim shows how to emerge strong, with dignity intact, as a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen.
Halim Flowers: An Inspiration
As a teenager, Halim Flowers faced a prosecution that would lead to two life sentences. Many news organizations profiled his inspiring story of adjusting through 22 years in prison and his pathway to life as a successful artist. Anyone can read more by clicking the following links:
- Thug Life: An HBO documentary (Password: SCREENTHUGLIFE601)
- Rising DC Artist: A profile (CBS Interview)
- TEDx Talk: Inspiring speech on his story
- Examples of his art work
- Links to his Clothing/Fashion line
- Links to his books
How I Connected with Halim Flowers
A few years after concluding multiple decades in prison, Warden Andre Matevousian invited me to make a presentation to people serving lengthy sentences at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater. After I made the presentation to hundreds of people serving lengthy sentences, Warden Matevousian coordinated the first purchase order I received from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The prison began offering our books and courses to people serving time inside the Atwater prison.
Soon after I made the presentation, Halim Flowers transferred to Atwater from a different federal prison, in Fairton, New Jersey. He had been confined for two decades. During the time that Halim served his sentence, he avoided problems with others by practicing his faith and working to improve his mind.
During the video interview, Halim told us about using his time inside to develop stronger communication skills, becoming a legal researcher and writer. He also practiced his poetry. While serving the sentence, Halim wrote many manuscripts, launched a publishing company, and he brought 11 books to market.
When Halim transferred to Atwater, Warden Matevousian promoted the courses that our team at Prison Professors offers. Halim worked through the course and he also read the books. He wrote me from Atwater and I encouraged him to connect with me after his release.
Halim Gets Released after 22 Years in Prison
On April 22, 2019, I received an email from Halim. He wrote the following:
I contacted you when I was at USP Atwater about being a juvenile lifer from DC that had published eleven books during my incarceration. Well, on March 21, 2019, I was freed from my life sentence and returned back into our beautiful society.Halim Flowers
Below I include an image of the entire email, along with photos to document his inspiring story.
We connected again earlier this year after I had a conversation with Cara, an attorney, and a societal leader. While talking with Cara about the work we do to improve outcomes for people in America’s criminal justice system, Cara asked me if I knew Halim Flowers. I told her about our earlier interactions, and she told me more about his inspiring story of success after prison. Cara inspired me to reach out to Halim and ask if he would share his story with our audience at Prison Professors.
What I Learned from Halim Flowers
During the video conversation I recorded with Halim, I found hope in his message of peace and reconciliation. The work that he did to improve his life while incarcerated opened many opportunities to succeed upon release. He told me how the work that he did while inside led to his receiving financial sponsorship within weeks after his release. Different organizations rewarded his pursuit of excellence with grants. The resources from those grants allowed him to build stability. He practiced his craft, developed more talents and connections, which led to further opportunities. When I asked about some of his mentors, Halim described an encounter he had after making a presentation about his journey through prison.
While at the Apple store in San Francisco’s famed Union Square, he told me about a middle-aged white man who engaged Halim in conversation. During that conversation, the man revealed that he owned the Golden State Warriors basketball team. The man became a financial sponsor to Halim, purchasing several of the colorful paintings that Halim created with his genius. While sitting together on billionaire’s row at a basketball game, the man told Halim:
Do you see all of the people sitting in these box seats? They are the best in the world at what they do. They’re investors, they are leaders of business. Do you see those men playing basketball? They are the elite, the best in the world at what they do. I want you to know that I’m not buying your paintings or befriending you because I have pity on you. I am an investor, and I am investing in you because you’re an elite. You’re the best in the world at what you do. And I know you’re going to continue achieving greatness.Owner of Golden State Warriers
Halim went on to achieve greatness. Over the past year, other sophisticated investors purchased more than $1 million of art that Halim created. He is a portrait of excellence, and I encourage you to emulate his mindset.