I meet Otis J. the night he arrives at “The Castle,” a West Harlem halfway house for newly-released convicts. Sprung from prison in August after doing 40 years for attempted murder, Otis shows up with a laundry bag containing his life’s belongings. I notice he moves at a slightly slower pace than everyone else, and keeps his gestures compact. I imagine it’s partially a by-product of spending the bulk of one’s life living in a 70-square-foot cell, and partially due to the fact that in prison, sudden moves tend to get you shanked, pepper-sprayed, or both.
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