Bolts, 09/14/23: “Terrell Johnson has forgotten how old he is. He stopped keeping track of the calendar sometime during his 18 years in prison because it reminded him of all that he was missing on the outside. He doesn’t know his own birth date anymore, and wouldn’t celebrate it, anyway, if he did.
‘I’m done aging,’ Johnson says, pacing one recent Sunday morning outside the duplex where he was raised, in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood. He says his mom built a safe, loving home here, and by a firehouse not far away, he points to where he and other kids rode bikes.
Johnson recalls that by the time he was 14, his friends in the neighborhood started ‘disappearing.’ Hazelwood is a diverse area with a large Black population where the incarceration rate skies above most of the rest of the Pittsburgh metro. Johnson rifles through a mental list of kids he knew growing up, and can only think of one who hasn’t at some point been incarcerated or killed, or both.”