Freedom has never been free: 30 years later, friends and family to free Khalfani Malik Khaldun

Can you imagine someone you know and love spending 30 years in prison? Then imagine 20 of those years with no human contact, trapped in solitary confinement, only allowed one hour for a shower or recreation, and 23 of those hours isolated in a cage the size of your bedroom closet at home. This is the life and existence of Khalfani Malik Khaldun (Leonard McQuay), a 47-year-old black man who was sent to prison in 1987 with a 25 year sentence, only to serve 12 ½, then be released back to his freedom.

Prison itself robs you of life, health, and mental stability bit by bit once you enter its gates. While serving the 12 ½ years, prison officials served Khalfani with a warrant for murder, saying he was implicated in the killing of a prison officer which occurred on December 13th, 1994. Prison officials immediately sanctioned him to solitary confinement where he had no contact with anyone. He was a target of harassment, torture, racism, and vicious threats on his life. Over a long period of 20 years under the daily threats being made on his life by officers, with very little or no support from the outside, Khalfani began a downward spiral into deep depression, paranoia, panic, and anxiety attacks.

For 6 ½ years Khalfani’s case hung in the balance in Indiana courts, until a trial was set. He had no legal help, and being in solitary confinement he had no direct access to the prison law library. For 20 years years he was denied access to rehabilitative and quality educational programs.

Khalfani completed 12 ½ years on July 27th, 2000. He went to trial from March 26th to March 31st, 2001, and was found guilty by an all-white jury for a crime he didn’t commit. What should have been his release from prison ended up being a new sentence of 60 years, handed down on April 20th, 2001 by a judge who a year later died of a heart attack. During the 30 years of incarceration, coupled with being held by Indiana Department of Corrections for 20 of those years in isolation for 23 hours a day, he lost his mother, 3 brothers, and his only son, with whom he never got to spend a day in the outside world. He lost 2 sisters and recently his stepfather, causing him to agonize for years having anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure, and psychological anguish. Instead of helping him heal, the IDOC and the mental health department prescribed him pills to control him and provided no real mental health therapy. During his 20 years in solitary confinement he was constantly attacked by racist officers seeking to break his spirit.

Having lost the only people who could help build a campaign to free him, he has been abandoned in a lot of ways. In 2014, members of the IDOC decided to release him from solitary confinement to general population, only for him to become the target of 2 more false charges that sent him back to solitary confinement until he was cleared by his tenacious filing of his own appeals. His motivation is centered on being released from prison to be united with his grandchildren, his loving daughter, and her mother.