after 21 years of being unjustly incarcerated it´s time to tell my story...the true story

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val flexing his stuff at age 7.


About Me.

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My name is Valentine Underwood; I’m a 53 years old African American male who is a practicing Muslim. My Islamic name is Karam Nasiyr Muneeb, I’m 6’6″ tall and I weigh 290 lbs. I enjoy sports (basketball, football, water skiing, sailing, and fishing), exercising, learning Arabic (memorizing Quran) writing poetry, reading, music (R&B, Rap, Reggae and Soft rock), National politics, eating (hot & spicy foods), and cleaning. I was born and raised in the Washington D.C area and I’m the youngest of nine children.

I have six brothers and three sisters. My sister Jody recently passed away in June 2012 from Hepatitis – C resulting in liver cancer. My sister Collette passed away in 2015 from a heart attack. My mom, who’s my best friend, is 5′ 1″ she is a devout Christian. I attended Lubbock Christian College on a basketball scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I then went on to work as a residential counselor and a vocational counselor for the developmentally disabled. I also worked as an engineer consultant prior to joining the U.S. Marine Core as an active duty soldier. I was deployed to fight in the desert storm, and the desert shield conflict. Upon my return I was stationed in 29 Palms California.

In August 1991 I was arrested for two counts of murder, and convicted December 1997. I was sentenced to double consecutive life
sentences, without possibility of parole. I was transferred to the “Californian Department of Correction and Rehabilitation”(CDCR). On November 21, 2006, while housed at “Kern Valley State Prison” (KVSP) I was involved in a physical altercation with several Correctional Officers whereby I sustained several serious injuries. As a result, I was found guilty of assault on staff and assessed a” Security Housing Unit “(SHU) term of one year, which was mitigated to six (6) months. I was transferred to the SHU at” California Correctional Institution” (CCI), in Tehachapi California. After being released from the SHU, I was housed in the “Behavioral Modifying Unit” (BMU), for three months. Then released to the” General Population yard” at CCI. While at (CCI) in 2008 I filed a” 42 USC §1983″ civil law suit, alleging the Correctional Officers at KVSP retaliated against me, violating my First Amendment Rights, which resulted in excessive use of force, an Eighth Amendment violations. This case is presently being adjudicated by me in the” United States District Court for the Eastern District of California”, case (Valentine Underwood v M, Knowles 1:08-CV- 00986-GSA). As a result of filing this law suit the staff at CCI retaliated against me by validating me as an “Associate of the Black Guerilla Family” (BGF) prison gang and assessing me a six (6) year SHU term. This action, is pending in the same court, case (Valentine Underwood v F, Gonzalez 1:11-CV-01710-LJO).

In 2009 I was transferred to “Pelican Bay State Prison” ,(PBSP) (SHU) in Crescent City, California. While in the SHU at PBSP, I was transferred out of state for charges that allegedly occurred in 1988. I returneded back to PBSP in August 2014 and went before the Departmental Review Board (DRB) and released from the SHU in the month of March 2015 and transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) where I am presently housed.

Being in prison under these circumstances has truly caused my family pain. They will never tell me but, I know there’s a stigma that comes along with having a family member convicted of such a heinous crime. I have received several visits from them during the IAD and I was blessed to see my sisters Jody and Collette before they passed. It has been so many years since I had last seen them, before I came here. Sometimes good things can come from bad situations. I’m so blessed to have the love and support of my family, There’s not a day that goes by, that I don’t thank God for them.

Well, naturally I don’t think life is always fair. Yet, I do feel everything happens for a reason. I think it’s up to us to find out what that reason is no matter what situation we’re in. First and foremost I had to look at myself. I had to realize that the one thing that I can change in any given situation is myself. I had to work towards these changes beginning with the way I thought which lead to the way one acts. I had to except and own my wrongs before the process of change could begin.

As a result of the changes I’ve made over the years I’m a better person in all aspects of my life. My love for Allah (GOD), family and humanity is not just in words but also in my actions. You see, I don’t think being incarcerated relinquishes me of responsibilities. I truly believe all people have a responsibility towards assisting humanity in some form or another. It doesn’t matter how small or large these deeds are. With that being said, I’ve been confronted with the feelings of uselessness due to lack of a platform in these places. There are so many youngsters who are heading to these places that can be redirected from them with the help of people such as myself. Yet one is even labeled in these places adversely (Person of influence) when talking to the young inmates with release dates about ending the cycles that placed them in prison.

Being an African American who’s 6’6″ tall and 290 lbs., educated with a military background, having the case I’ve been convicted of is definitely not helpful but hurtful! I’ve never been a person who has a problem with authority. I don’t dislike people who work in these places.

This is a job that someone has to do and from my experience some are good at it. Yet, you find those who are threatened by the convicts that don’t fit in any specific category and is always studying and exercising and growing. These places are very bias, racially divided. I’m a conscious person, who’s aware of my culture (African). Yet, I don’t think it has to be at the detriment of someone else’s culture, or race. As a Muslim my Deen (Islamic way of life) reinforces this fact. Where a person is from or what race they are has no value to me. Those who are aware of who they are and strive to be better under all conditions is highly respected by me. My beliefs transcend these ignorant schisms and isms that do nothing but give people false securities. Yet, I’m not the norm in these places and my way of thinking is even frowned upon. They do not want people to know there culture in these places and they don’t want races to get along in these places. Racism as a tool used to control the population in these places.

It’s important that you don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not asking for anyone’s pity! This is not a “poor me” situation. I’ve concluded for my sanity that I’ll never get out of these places. They have imprisoned me physically but not mentally or spiritually! The fact is I will do whatever I have to do to not be anyone’s victim in these places! I treat everyone with utmost respect because I expect nothing but respect in return! I have seen the results of disrespect over the years in these places. I have had situations that I had to respond for the purposes of self- preservation. I have always stayed aware of the fact that the situation caused for that response, that the response was not me but a necessary action due to that situation. All the while I have never in all the years I’ve been incarcerated been compromised. I refuse to speak on others (snitch) actions !!

Yet as a Muslim, I also have to be in the right! I can’t mix truth with falsehood! Being incarcerated is a continued struggle on applying the Deen and coexisting in these environments. I must continue to strive for knowledge in applying the Quran and the Sunnah in all aspects of my life no matter the environment I am in. It is only due to my Worshiping God (Allah) I am freer today that I have ever been! All Praises is due to Allah only! !