Borey Ai (“PJ”) was tried as an adult and given a life sentence for a crime when he was only 14-years-old, making him one of the youngest “lifers” in California. While incarcerated, PJ transformed his life, and after serving 20 years in prison, he was found suitable at his first parole board hearing. PJ was born in a refugee camp in Thailand where his family fled to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. PJ and his family entered the U.S. as refugees when he was only 4-years-old. He is currently under ICE supervision where he faces deportation to Cambodia-- a country he has never set foot in.
During his 20 years in state prison, PJ chose a path of transformation. He obtained his GED, and his Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts. He completed and led numerous programs, including S.Q.U.I.R.E.S. (a youth diversion program), Restoring Out Original True Selves (ROOTS), Guiding Rage Into Power (“GRIP”), and Kid C.A.T. PJ’s leadership roles in groups like Kid C.A.T. resulted in important juvenile justice reforms such as SB 9 California Fair Sentencing for Youth, SB 260 and SB 261 Justice for Juveniles with Adult Sentencing. PJ is a state certified rape and crisis counselor and a domestic violence counselor. In July 2016, at his first parole hearing, the California Parole Board acknowledged his transformation and granted his parole. PJ has received support letters for a Governor’s pardon from the following organizations (including individuals affiliated with these groups):
The API Legislative Caucus
Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Fathers & Families of San Joaquin
Silicon Valley De-Bug
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
National Education Association (NEA)
California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC)
Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA)
Root & Rebound
Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC)
The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization (PIVOT), and more.
After his parole, PJ spent 18 months incarcerated in ICE jails, while fighting his deportation case. Although PJ was released on May 10th, 2018, he remains under ICE supervision and could be deported during the next round of deportations to Cambodia. Since his release, he has started a part-time job at Guiding Rate Into Power (GRIP), where he provides support for GRIP rehabilitative programs in California state prisons. Additionally, PJ has started a part-time internship at the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC), where he provides reentry support and community outreach. PJ is now seeking a governor’s pardon because it may be the only way he can remain in the U.S. and not be deported to Cambodia--a country his family was forced to flee before he was born. #KeepPJHome
T H R E E W A Y S T O #KeepPJHome
Sign and Share PJ's Support Letter
We ask Gov. Brown to give PJ a pardon:
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Tweet To Keep PJ Home
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Anthology Vol. 2
Call For Submissions
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:
Asian Prisoner Support Committee’s New Anthology of Prose, Poetry, and Artwork
“It's been twelve years since Other: an Asian & Pacific Islander Prisoners' Anthology was published. I first proposed a prisoner's anthology to uplift the voices and narratives of Asians and Pacific Islanders when I realized there was no platform for currently incarcerated people in our community. We saw how impactful the first anthology has been on a national level -- we've done five print runs to date. This is a rare opportunity for you to share your lived experiences as a way to heal and challenge the cultural shame that perpetuates intergenerational trauma. As the saying goes, ‘Behind everyone’s face, there is a story.’ We want to amplify your story through poetry, vignette, and art.” -- Eddy Zheng, former juvenile lifer who spearheaded the first anthology from prison.
After the success and impact of Other: an Asian & Pacific Islander Prisoners’ Anthology (published in 2007), the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC) is partnering with Hyphen magazine to curate a new anthology to highlight stories from API voices who have journeyed along the pipeline from migration to prison to deportation and/or reentry and beyond. All writers with accepted pieces will be partnered with a mentoring editor who will work with you to provide feedback and help hone the piece while maintaining your unique voice, perspective, and story.
We are seeking works that fall into the following categories: Ch 1: Migration | Ch 2: School | Ch 3: Prison | Ch 4: Deportation | Ch 5: Reentry
There is a soft limit of 2 ½ typed pages (single-spaced), but if you feel you need more space to fully convey your story, please submit anyway. Note: Submissions will not be returned.
This call is open to folks both inside the prison system and those who have gone through reentry who identify as Asian / Pacific Islander American or identify as “Other”. Works can be poetry, fiction, essays, artwork, photographs, and more.
Please mail all submissions to:
APSC - Anthology
PO Box 1031
Oakland, CA 94604
Deadline for submissions is: November 30, 2018
[ TIPS & PROMPTS ]
Tips on submissions:
We suggest your submissions focus on one aspect of the above categories. While biographies are welcome, we love stories that narrow in on one slice of the story.
That being said, works submitted can overlap themes and be just as intersectional as our identities are.
We welcome creative takes on the topics. Pieces can be in the form of letters, poetry, song lyrics, memories, etc.
We are especially interested in stories from women and members of the LGBTQ community
We would also like more artwork and photography (including visiting room photos, childhood/family photos)!
Here are a few creative prompt ideas to get you started:
Write about one aspect of prison life, for example: food, cellies, a good friend, prison politics, the yard, your exercise routine, an interaction with a CO.
Describe how APIs in prison celebrate/commemorate special events (lunar new year’s, holidays, someone gaining parole/release, etc.)
Describe the scene when a family member or loved one visits you in prison? What are some conversations, moments, or interactions during visiting that you will always remember?
Tell the story behind one of your tattoos.
Imagine someone in your life you are angry with. Write a letter imagining you are that person and then write a response back to them.
Write a letter to yourself at a younger age. What would you tell them? What do you wish they knew?
Write a letter to yourself twenty years from now. What would you tell them? What do you hope?
Think about an item from your childhood that holds a lot of meaning to you. Why? What is the story around that item?
If you speak more than one language, think about a phrase in your non-English language that is meaningful to you in some way. Or think about your relationship to language.
What is a childhood food you miss most?
What is one of your earliest memories?
You might try to tell an important story from your life from the point of view of someone else who was there (another family member, a friend, an enemy, a teacher, etc.)
We can’t wait to hear and share your truth. By uplifting and spreading the stories of incarcerated API people, we hope to shed a light on the struggles we see, and the roads to reentry.
Todd “Hyung-Rae” Tarselli has been in prison for over 27 years. He was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for a crime he committed when he was 17 years old. Born in South Korea, Hyung-Rae’s parents died when he was just a child. At the age of 5, he entered an orphanage, where his birthdate was inaccurately recorded as 6-years old, due to a mistake in interpreting cultural age-counting. Korean culture considers a child 1-year old on the day of birth while the U.S. does not. This cultural difference in counting age was not properly accounted for during his adoption. Hyung-Rae was adopted by an American family in 1980 and struggled to adjust to the new culture, family, environment, and community. In 1992, he pled guilty to a robbery and murder. Because of the age counting error, Hyung-Rae was listed as 18 years old and charged as an adult, which severely impacted his life sentence in Pennsylvania.
Incarcerated for nearly three decades, Hyung-Rae has endured some of the nation’s harshest prison conditions--including 10 years in solitary confinement (Pennsylvania’s “control units”). Despite his struggles, Hyung-Rae has developed into a prolific artist, a mentor to his peers, and a staunch supporter for social justice movements within the prison system and beyond. Hyung-Rae has a wide network of supporters, trade skills, a G.E.D., and community-based organizations that will assist him upon his re-entry. While in prison, Hyung-Rae underwent a personal transformation and does not pose a threat to society. Hyung-Rae has a crucial court hearing regarding his age, which could determine if he will ever be set free. Please help us pack the court to show our support for Hyung-Rae! His next court hearing dates are coming up in December 2018—we will share more details when we gather more information.
“I came to prison when I was 17 years old to serve a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. I had to grow up fast and mature in a dehumanizing environment. After nearly 3 decades in prison, what has always inspired me, and still does today, are the many examples of men and women who refuse to become indoctrinated into the prison culture of violence and apathy. Prisons are a dehumanizing and brutal place that leaves little room for rehabilitation or self-improvement, and, it is nearly impossible to maintain your own sense of self and humanity. Yet, there are countless examples of people who rise above prison and not only better themselves but also others around them. It is the undying human spirit that wants to become better, to do better. I have discovered in the most unlikely of places what it means to have a sense of self, to maintain your own humanity and find the strength to rise above the madness.” – Todd “Hyung-Rae” Tarselli
Hyung-Rae’s artwork has been prominently featured in the following books, films, and community events:
- “Other: an API Prisoners’ Anthology,” forward by Helen Zia and edited/compiled by the Asian Prisoner Support Committee.
- “Reframing Transracial Adoption: Adopted Koreans, White Parents, and the Politics of Kinship,” by Kristi Brian, Temple University Press.
- Cover art for “Maximum Lockdown,” by Lorna Rhodes
- Cover art for the American Journal of Public Health, Vol 95, No. 10
- “Breathin’: the Eddy Zheng Story,” an award-winning documentary that aired on public television.