Leonard Carter, 60, Queensboro Correctional Facility, NY

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This post is in collaboration with Mourning Our Losses; photograph of Leonard Carter, courtesy of Cynthia Carter-Young, by way of the New York Daily News.

Leonard Carter of Brooklyn, NY passed away of COVID-19 on April 14, 2020. He was only sixty years-old. Leonard is survived by his sister Cynthia Carter-Young and other loving family who mourn the loss of their respected brother, father, uncle, cousin, and friend.

It is particularly tragic that Leonard’s second chance was snatched away so close to his scheduled release date of May 26, 2020. After 24 years of forced separation from Leonard, due to pandemic restrictions most of his family had to miss saying goodbye at his funeral service.

Leonard was denied an earlier release date which might have prevented him from catching Covid-19. As his niece Keisha told the New York Daily News, “it was the wrong call not releasing him. It was just the wrong thing to do. He was going to be released anyway.”

Leonard took great pride in his appearance and was looking forward to building a new wardrobe. He was excited about homecoming parties, renewing old acquaintances, and meeting new friends. His greatest anticipation though was embracing his 17 year-old grandson for the first time.

Leonard made the world a better place for those who knew him. He was kind and compassionate. He worked for years in Sing Sing’s Mental Health Crisis Unit where he earned the trust of staff and residents alike by facing ever changing demands and challenges with patience and poise. He listened empathetically to repetitive and sometimes delusional complaints. He helped those suffering from mental illness with basic living and hygiene skills.

Multiple facility staff expressed their condolences for Leonard’s passing. They told his sister he had done great work and would be missed.

Leonard had turned his life around. Day after day he proved that people could depend upon him. His was a meaningful life cut short too soon. He will be missed.

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.

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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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