Christopher, 28

Christopher, 28

Meet Christopher…

I’m now very considerate and learning a lot from these classes on how to be a good man with integrity. I want my freedom after I get these skills. I have a lot to live for. I have a lot of self-worth and dignity that I haven’t had before.

Incarcerated: 2 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison

She’s the most generous and loving woman in my life. It’s a privilege to call her my mom. She struggled, but kept a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. She worked in the food service industry for 36 years. She’s my best friend, but on August 24, 2021 she left us. She passed away. I wasn’t there to be with her and that was really hard. I was in San Quentin. She went to see her other son and daughter before she passed, but I know she wanted to see me. I got to talk to her every single day before she passed. She was my angel. She struggled with her own habits. It was really hard losing her.

My son is Christopher Jr and he’s eight. He’s about a year old in this picture. It’s one of three photos I have of him. It’s the last time I was with him before I came to prison. He’s with his mother now. Between my son and my mom, they are my anchor. I thought if I lost either one of them, I’d lose control. But, I’ve lost both and stayed balanced. I try to call my son all the time, but only get through about once a month. When he was one year old, he had more toys than a ten-year-old. I try to spoil him as much as I can. He was getting spoiled before he knew what being spoiled is.

Freya is my dog, she’s half Pomeranian and Chihuahua and was the size of my fist when I got her. Freya would put her head on Chris’s stomach and lay there like she was protecting him. Ever since she was a puppy, she’d lay in this position and plop back. She was spoiled too – getting her nails and hair done. I spoiled all my family. I did the best to support them and make a better life, because it was a real struggle for me growing up.

We went to a dog adoption in Stockton and got Baldur. He’s a purebred American Bulldog, raised as a fighter and rescued from a raid. We were walking around and Baldur was just staring at us with that same sad face in this picture. I knew he was the dog for us. You’d never know that he was a fighter until you saw the scars on his head. We were worried at first, having little Christopher. But when Baldur was with him, he got attached just like Freya. They’d be on either side of him, protecting him. For a long time, we were a normal family going out, going to movies, the beach, San Francisco, peaceful and happy. Now both dogs went to a rescue. I don’t have my wife or mom. But it’s the memories I hold on to. I’m learning day by day to come to terms with the passing of my mom as well as losing things. Even though I’ve lost all these things while being in here I respond in a positive way, not negative. I think it’s my mom’s spirit driving me. I’m in the GED program getting 98s and 99s in science and reading and social studies. I didn’t apply myself in high school, but I attribute what I’m doing now to my mom, because that’s what she’d want me to do. All the programs I’m taking I hope that it’ll keep me doing right. I’m done doing wrong. While I was doing wrong, I was missing my family and everything that makes these pictures meaningful. I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to be in a place like this when a loved one is passing. I don’t want to ever hurt anyone or hurt myself from being selfish. I’m now very considerate and learning a lot in school on how to be a good man with integrity. I want my freedom after I get these skills. I have a lot to live for. I have a lot of self-worth and dignity that I didn’t have before.

Steve, 49

Steve, 49

Meet Steve…

I want people to know that being in prison you can stay lost or you can allow it to rehabilitate you. Me, I chose to let it rehabilitate me and that’s when I found myself. I began to smile. I felt good inside. Going to church, participating in self-help programs.

Meet Steve…

I want people to know that being in prison you can stay lost or you can allow it to rehabilitate you. Me, I chose to let it rehabilitate me and that’s when I found myself. I began to smile. I felt good inside. Going to church, participating in self-help programs.

Antone, 28

Meet Antone…

What I want you to take away – cherish you and your family’s life. Please enjoy the moments, because you never know when your moment will be your last. 

Incarcerated: 7 years
Housed: California State Prison, Los Angeles County

I am a convicted felon for attempted murder. My time is moving extremely fast. As with everything, time makes things grow old. Even family and friends. After my conviction it seems like time has sped up. The stress that weighed on my mother, aged her faster than nature intended. Over the course of my incarceration my mother has passed away. I can’t tell you how I felt, because the feeling was cold. After losing her, one person that brought me into this world has made me view many things differently. Sitting in a cell, as my mother’s homegoing service was taking place, was a thought that never crossed my mind. Helpless, hopeless, lost, afraid, and alone were just a few words. I have had no convictions while inside or behavior infractions, yet I was still told that I couldn’t attend my mother’s service. I felt like a complete failure. Those feelings are relentless, and I’ll have to live with them forever. What I want you to take away – cherish you and your family’s life. Please enjoy the moments, because you never know when your moment will be your last. Life is short, make it count!

Lynda, 62

Lynda, 62

Meet Lynda…

I awoke to a ringing in my ears on a concrete floor in solitary confinement.

Incarcerated: 19 years
Housed: Women’s Therapeutic Residential Center, Henning, Tennessee.

I awoke to a ringing in my ears on a concrete floor in solitary confinement. The ringing is from shotgun blasts. The last of which ended my husband’s life after 15 years together. He had pulled all our phones out of the walls as he threatened and accused me. The shotgun was unfortunately his demise. Our situation was no secret. He was abusive. I should have left. He thumbed his nose at his assigned anger management classes. I wish I had just allowed him to take my life, but it was not to be. Now here I am. All I wanted was to be put to death. I have taken a precious life. My Dad said, “You kick a dog long enough and it’s going to bite you.” His family forgave me and apologized for the path I had chosen. My only hope for living was their forgiveness for my horrible crime. I couldn’t understand how they could relate to me. But they did. It did not keep the district attorney from lying to me, telling me his family wanted the death penalty. After all, it was election time and he needed this publicized case. I did not go to trial. I was given twenty-five years to life. The district attorney described how he would drag me through every bit of mud he could find. I wanted to die. Nineteen years later, I still hold onto his family’s unmerited forgiveness. With years of education and emotional and spiritual maturity, I too forgive. In less than two years, I will be out-armed with an associate’s degree in business, a cosmetology license and certificates in building trades and computer information technology. Thankfully, I will continue a positive, productive, and successful life.

Dennis, 54

Dennis, 54

Meet Dennis…

I am currently employed as an ADA worker earning eleven cents an hour. I assist old and disabled inmates seven days a week, earning $17 dollars a month. I want another chance at life.

Incarcerated: 27 years
Housed: California Men’s Colony, San Luis Obispo

I am incarcerated for attempted murder. Twenty seven years later, I am on my way to my first board hearing in June. In which, no one is ever granted suitability at their first hearing. I am prepared to be denied parole. However, the timing is perfect because I do not have a strong support network that would put me in good standing with the board commissioners. I would like to seek and build a support network from the outside world to help prepare for my hearing. The CDCR has never offered inmates meaningful training or job trades to prepare us to survive in the 21st high-tech world upon release. Prior to prison, I dibbled and dabbled in the electrical field but never earned any certifications. I was self-taught. In every prison, I have run an electrical service hustle from my cell. This is what I want to do when I get out. Is there anybody willing to properly teach me electronic repair straight out of prison? A lot of basketball players are drafted into the NBA straight out of high school. Why not hire me for a job straight out of prison? I am currently employed as an ADA worker earning eleven cents an hour. I assist old and disabled inmates seven days a week, earning $17 dollars a month. I want another chance at life.

Davion, 23

Meet Davion…

Growing up, I never thought I would end up in jail. My brothers and sisters never went to jail. I never witnessed anyone close to me go to jail. I ended up being the youngest and the first one in my family to go to prison. I’d tell myself, “Don’t do it. For sure don’t do it.”

Incarcerated: 2 years

I’ve had a decade of violence from friends and family being killed by gun fire. The first time I saw a gun, I was 12. Thirteen of my friends have been killed by gun violence. More than 20 of my family members have died. I got my first gun at 14. At 15, I was wild with it, everyone around me had a gun, it was the thing to do if you didn’t want to get caught slippin.’ You defended yourself to survive. This drew me to prison. I was doing good otherwise, playing sports in school, trying to do something with my life and I wanted to go to college, but it was that gun. Guns make you do something stupid, like point it at someone to get money. Guns for my generation are huge. I even got them tatted on my hands. It was like buying Jordans when they were in, we’d wait in line for guns, clips and magazines. I wouldn’t say it’s the gun’s fault because someone controls the gun. It’s people’s fault. People like power. What’s the answer? Phew, wow…if they really wanted to stop gun violence, I truly believe they’d boost the age of owning a firearm, but there’s already so many guns out there. Taking away the Second Amendment so that no one has the right to bear arms, other than police to prevent robberies and crimes would do it. If people were to get ten plus years for having a gun, that would have kept me from getting a gun. It would have definitely saved me. If I knew my cousin got all that time for a gun, instead of 63 years to life for murder, it would have saved me. If only I could tell my 12 year old self what the future held. Growing up, I never thought I would end up in jail. My brothers and sisters never went to jail. I never witnessed anyone close to me go to jail. I ended up being the youngest and the first one in my family to go to prison. I’d tell myself, “Don’t do it. For sure don’t do it.