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Vincent, 59
Incarcerated: 11 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, CA

My youngest son was murdered. My step son CJ and I found out while we were in different prisons. I didn’t know how to process and accept the fact that he was gone, so I compartmentalized my feelings as I didn’t want to show any vulnerability. CJ was doing the same thing, hurting but not expressing his pain. Two years later, I was in the SQ newsroom working on photos when someone came in needing to talk. We walked outside and there was CJ. I embraced the child, man, my son and tears flowed from both of us. We finally found each other and were able to release our emotions. For the first time, my step son was able to look at photos of his departed brother and I finally built up the courage to have his obituary sent to us. Having my son in the cell with me is like going back to when he was younger. I try to raise him, but it’s difficult because he is a man now, so it’s an experience. It’s not normal. There is nothing normal about our situation and nothing has been normal about the paths we’ve partaken on. But, I am working on changing the narrative, on winning as it were. I am immersing myself in what I am doing, proving to myself that I have changed. I can see my future and it looks nothing like my past. My son told someone he had his life figured out. He is a little pitbull and it scares me, because that is what I said when I was younger. I thought to myself, you’re sitting here with me, obviously neither of us have it figured out and I wonder how and when he was incarcerated. I pray he doesn’t take this experience as something that just happens in life, that going to prison is universal, as I fear he doesn’t recognize the seriousness of our dysfunctional circumstances.

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