Let’s Read: The Prison Alphabet 🌭

Here in America, we’ve designed an easily corrupted, very racist justice system. Then we incentivized everyone involved in that system to be the maximum amount of lazy and evil. After that, we declared it a virtue for you to put all your trust into it. It has not gone well. This Upsetting Day, we’re talking about THE PRISON ALPHABET.

A fun way to determine if your country is fucked is if there are 2.7 million potential customers for your educational coloring book specifically for children of incarcerated parents. This is obviously a cursed abomination created by people with good intentions. And to their credit, they seem to know what they’ve done. It’s the only coloring book I’ve ever seen that opens with two pages of small-font apologies and explanations. There is maybe some perfect tone appropriate for a kid’s coloring book on this dark subject matter, but Bahiyyah and Muntaquim Muhammad did not find it. This shit is crazy.

Maybe it’s for adults who didn’t know that in prison “D stands for Dentist?” Maybe it’s for prisoners who love to color? Maybe it’s for kids to frame and display on their bedroom wall? They honestly have no idea which direction they should take this very, very bad idea. This is like building a whoopie cushion that blows out the words, “Inoperable cancer means you have to say goodbye forever!” instead of farts. It’s like hiring a magician to play the cello at a miscarriage party. No, I’m serious: THE PRISON ALPHABET is legally the same category of thing as a laser tag pet funeral.

This is fun, right? ARREST– The thing that certainly went well for your parent! There has to be an A-word that maintains this high level of education without reminding the prisoner or their child about the terrible moment already burned into their brains. Why not “ASS– Your mommy better watch hers if she’s going to run her fucking mouth.” Or maybe “AMENDMENT– The 13th one created a loophole that let us keep slavery!” I don’t know, I’m probably the worst person for writing coloring books. Well, okay, obviously not the worst.

It’s a common misconception that prisoners sustain themselves with a large communal salt lick or by constructing hamburgers out of snitch hair. Let me educate you: they are given a thing called “FOOD” to eat. “FOOD” is served for each meal, and we are approaching the limits of man’s understanding of “FOOD.” The only way you can get your own “FOOD” is to poison a boyfriend like your mommy.

I’m sure the children of the incarcerated can appreciate this nice pro-authority spin on handcuffs. They’re to keep your dad from killing himself, kid. You see, the system that took his dignity and freedom is only here to help. There are a lot of perspectives you can have about the penal system, but this HANDCUFFS entry seems to accidentally reveal the one held by the authors. This could have been Hh for HOOCH or HANGDOG HANDJOB, but they chose the H-word where your parents get chained up and then the coloring book takes the side of the prison. That’s fucked up. And a few handcuff-eyed Amazon reviewers picked up on this too.

Alan Mills, a top contributor for Fantasy Books, looks like he has every reason to side with the status quo and even he knows you shouldn’t try to get children of the incarcerated to root for the handcuffs.

This anonymous Amazon Customer bought this coloring book to learn and it only took them 8 letters before they realized, “This is either a joke or total bullshit.”

Debra M. finished the entire alphabet and her takeaway was not “I know a lot about prisons now.” It was, “I hope the author consults with reputable psychotherapists next time publishing a book to purportedly help children.” I don’t need to tell you Debra is, ugh, the worst, but she’s probably right. Do you have any idea how shitty you have to be at making coloring books if you’re a professor of criminology named Muntaquim Muhammad and some random Debbie has a better take on the prison industrial complex than you? This is like Lena Dunham getting body acceptance explained to her by a guy named Footslut Jake.

Pp is also for PRIVACY which your parents won’t have! Plus, Pp is for PROFIT because unchecked capitalism has turned even your mommy’s love for you into a revenue stream!

Jesus, Ss is for SADNESS. I’ve had a lot of criticism about the artistic decisions made in this coloring book, but good luck representing the soul-crushing monotony of losing your freedom better than this page, all future art.

As a parent, I’ve been exposed to a lot of alphabet-themed media, so I’m used to xylophones and x-rays being brought up in wildly unrelated premises. But what the fuck is this? “X-rays are taken by prison doctors who check inmates for broken bones?” If you have to make up crazy shit, just skip the letter, Muntaquim. The only way American prisoners get access to a radiologist is if the guards can’t remember which inmate they left their baton inside.

They really did it! Zz is for fucking ZOO! Color the stated metaphor for how your daddy is an animal, kid. And look, I know THE PRISON ALPHABET is nothing more than a series of regrettable mistakes and it’d be best to ignore it and never think about it again. Still, for not being able to draw tigers for shit, this artist is saying a lot with this zoo picture. These animals are living in harmony inside one giant enclosure. Giraffes share a pasture with tigers along with a baby elephant who gets to grow up surrounded by the love of its family. Coloring children, these caged animals have it better than your parents. Let’s skip to the About Page to see what in the hell is going on with the publishers of this book.

Oh my god, there’s an entire THE PRISON ALPHABET universe with child superheroes? Which, wait, means they have fantastic powers but believe their criminal parents were justly imprisoned and should be left there? I need to see what in the goddamn fuck is going on with these Project Iron Kids. It says for more information on them and upcoming books, visit and… oh, there’s nothing there. Maybe their parents paid their debt to society and they lost their powers? T-that can’t be right. Let me see if I can find out more.

In the About The Authors section, a normal thing for a coloring book to have, it says Mr. and Mrs. Muhammad’s next book “100 Questions Children of Incarcerated Parents Ask” will be published Spring 2014. So I’ll just search for that and… okay, it doesn’t exist. Which means, and I don’t know if this is a happy ending or not, THE PRISON ALPHABET was so terrible it undid the life’s work of its authors. To put it another way, if you lived in a universe where children of the incarcerated had adequate educational material, this exact coloring book is what you would send back to erase your timeline from existence. And that’s a banana you can suck on, kemosabe!

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme, The Artist Formerly Known as Devon. C stands for Champion, Devon! Oh. Oh no, sorry. It’s Crack. C stands for Crack.

9 replies on “Let’s Read: The Prison Alphabet 🌭”

Where the fuck did you find this fuck and isn’t your soul tarnished forever now?

Oh, country mouse. Sean owns a book about ritual child molestation by a satanic chicken cult in a preschool. It was written with the same, or even more, sincerity as this book.
Every page of it lovingly, passionately illustrated by colored pencil.
So no, this is not the one that tarnishes souls.

It is his collection of folksy Bill Cosby books from the 80s and 90s that really concerns me. Nothing says “You’re completely safe here” like a dozen Bill Cosby books prominently displayed in your living room.

Jesus fuck that cancer joke hurt. I also can’t believe this was some people’s childhoods. Goddamn.

I’m either going to ruin someone’s day with this or make it infinitely better but there are at least two more books from Dr. Bahiyyah M. Muhammad related to the subject. “Mommy’s Coming Home” and “Daddy’s Coming Home”. I don’t hate myself enough to get both and compare them, but just in case someone else does here are the links.

The “Meet The Founder” page from the archived Project Iron Kids website only talks about Mrs. Prison Coloring:

“Crime has been a part of my daily life since the seventh grade. Having to walk to middle school everyday gave me the opportunity to see exactly what went on and continues to go on in poor urban communities. Drugs, prostitution, and crime were all prevalent in my neighborhood. The drug dealers on the corner were my older brother’s friends and the fathers to my girlfriends’ babies. I became involved in their lives, seeing first hand the grave consequence of mass incarceration on the development of community life.”

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