Jorge, 37
Jorge, 37

Meet Jorge…

…We always want to help when we get out, but we forget that we can help in here, like Edwin and Miguel are doing in our society in here. A lot of us don’t know how to do it and express what we are going through and need help to get it out into the world and change the image that is given to us.

Incarcerated: 21 years

Even though we have our ups and downs, I love that I was named after him, and I would name my son Jorge too if my wife is ok with it. We plan to have a baby at our next family visit…

Everything started in Juvenile Hall when I was arrested at age 16. I was not good at reading and writing, not even in Spanish. I remember I had a stack of letters from my mom in Spanish and I felt so bad I couldn’t read them. I got past my pride and asked the staff to help me read them. She started crying and I didn’t know how to react. I thought I did something wrong. She told me she would teach me to read and write, that I should have told her a long time ago, but I was prideful and I didn’t want people to know. I let my mom know, and she looked at me with a blank stare, like she thought I did know how to read and write in Spanish, at least. She just couldn’t believe it. She told me to do her a favor, “If you can draw me a happy face if you are happy or a sad face if you are sad, hearts and send it in the mail. So I know you’re ok. That’s how it all started, by doing small things for her. She inspired me to draw and all I wanted to do is keep her happy. As long as it put a smile on her face, I was willing to do it.

I got better at drawing roses and religious stuff like crosses. Early on I did a gangster praying to a virgin that turned out chubby because of the roses around her. In the drawing with the mask baby, I use crayons and mainly charcoal. I love charcoal – most of my drawings are in charcoal. I drew that as a message for people to get vaccinated and don’t be selfish because the next generation is going to be taking care of the aftermath. I understand people have their reason if they don’t take it, everybody has the right to do what they want, but I think it is the right thing to do.

We all have our moment in time when we can change, like a click. You hope it comes before you’re a wreck. We always want to help when we get out, but we forget that we can help in here, like Edwin and Miguel are doing in our society in here. A lot of us don’t know how to do it and express what we are going through and need help to get it out into the world and change the image that is given to us.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE TO IDENTIFY YOURSELF?

I am a humble and caring person, and when it comes down to family, they’re my number one. I love my family.

I like to be judged by my actions instead of the way I look. I’m a son, a brother, and a husband. When you start speaking to people, you see that we have potential, in a lot of different ways.

It’s hard for people to approach me even here because of the tattoos I have on my face and the way I look. I’ve heard the same thing from others who are blasted (tattooed) like me. Even here, getting hired for a new job in prison-like I did in the hospital, we get attention, like we are up to no good somehow, and stand out like a troublemaker. They think, “Let’s see how long you last here.”

I take pride in what I do and my coworkers see that. We work our hours and get to interact with people from society. There are not a lot of jobs like that in prison. Who would have thought you would be in an elevator with people from society? I thought we’d be treated differently…

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