Nicola, 37
Nicola, 37

Meet Nicola…

By actively participating in self-exploration I’ve learned to hold myself accountable for the harm I have caused my victims, my community, and my family.

In the early summer of 2014, I was transferring to San Quentin after spending four years in the hot Mojave desert. Ironwood State Prison is no fun, it is extremely hot and miserably humid and most importantly very hostile in every way. It’s certainly not a place to rehabilitate a returning citizen.

When I arrived in SQ, I was completely taken back by the sense of liberty from the programming that is available. Honestly, I felt like I had arrived on another planet. The scenery is breathtaking. Mount Tamalpais towers above and the ocean breeze fills the yard.

It took months to acclimate to the weather and culture. My body ached, specifically my knees after being reconstructed three times. In all transparency, it hurt to walk, I now understand why many elderly people live in dry deserts.

Weather wasn’t my only adjustment. Unlike Ironwood, SQ has many volunteers from the surrounding cities that support their robust programming, it was a shocking transition into the diverse culture. Over the next several years, I reached out to the rehabilitative resources and they truly restored my self-worth and self-esteem.

And, I took account of my past self-destructive lifestyle. The most important change was finding so many new friends who supported me at every step.

My SQ mentors, Frank Jernigan and Julie Kane, have been instrumental in my rehabilitation, they are a huge part of my life. They have taught me about friendship, sacrifice and the true essence of love. They helped me realize that our time in this life is finite and inspired me to use what time I have left to do the work of helping others.

I look forward to spending time with them and paying it forward. In July, I was blessed to be found suitable for parole. I am grateful for the opportunities I have learned at the old SQ, I’ll spend the rest of my days working to make a living amends on behalf of those that I’ve caused egregious harm and live with compassion in my heart for both friend and foe.