Derick Coley, 30, Cummins Unit, AR

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These posts are in collaboration with the Mourning Our Losses Project

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Derick Coley, age 29, of Magnolia, Arkansas. Mr. Coley passed away on May 2, 2020 at Cummins Unit state prison after a short battle with COVID 19.

Derick’s untimely death has left his loved ones with an incalculable loss. Those left to mourn his passing include his daughter – Adaisyah, his sisters – Tytiuana Harris and Shatasha Harris, and his longtime girlfriend – Cecelia Tate. Mr. Coley was a loving and devoted father, son, brother, companion, and friend. He took great joy in being part of his daughter’s life, and was a source of great strength and encouragement to his sister. He will be missed everyday as those that loved him reflect on all of the great memories he left behind.

Family photograph of Derick Coley and his daughter on Father's Day 2018 at the Cummins Unit, obtained from UALR Public Radio.

As of June 2020, Cummins Unit had the tenth largest coronavirus outbreak in the nation. Eight-hundred-seventy-three people incarcerated at Cummins had tested positive, including five that had passed away. According to sources inside the facility, Arkansas Department of Corrections has taken only minimal steps to contain the spread of the virus, and overcrowding in the facility has made social distancing impossible.

Although he is being embraced by the arms of eternity, his legacy carries on in the hearts of his loved ones forever.

Portrait of Derick Coley

This memorial was written by MOL team member Shirley Anne McCulley with information from reporting by David Brand of the Queens Daily Eagle and Noah Goldberg of the New York Daily News. Transcribed by Sarah Laufenberg.

Reflecting on learning and writing about Leonard Carter’s life, Shirley says:

Although I never met Mr. Carter, I felt an immediate connection upon receiving the news reports. I’ve also got a life sentence. My deceased, trying-to-be-my-hero boyfriend was named Leonard. He was set to be released on my deceased sister’s birthday. When we are incarcerated our families suffer so much for us and with us. It breaks my heart for his loved ones to have been cheated out of the joy of his homecoming.

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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