Adrien, 29

Meet Adrien…

Make peace with the parts of your life. Making peace makes life easier.

Adrien, 29
Incarcerated: 1 year
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California

I was sitting in Reception, waiting to hear which prison I would go to, hearing what other guys were planning on doing when they got released. The last time I was arrested, I turned my life around: got my high school and medical assistant diploma, and worked for three and a half years in the medical field. I enjoy working in clinics, urgent care, primary care, giving injections, taking care of people. It made me proud, too. I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to work in the medical field for a while, but I brought this on myself. Once I get out I will start looking and going back to school. I told them, “Anything and everything is possible. You just can’t doubt yourself.”

I was born on a reservation in Montana, in and out of country jail since I was 18. When I had my first child, a daughter, I wanted to show up for her. She inspired me. I wanted to be a father, different from other fathers who aren’t in their children’s lives. My dad didn’t. He was in and out of prison, not there. I was motivated to do it differently. I have siblings, younger than me. I didn’t have someone to push me to be a better father or a better son. I only had myself and I learned from my mistakes. When I was 10, I had to do that for my siblings when no one else did. It prepared me for being a dad. I didn’t have a childhood. And that made me the father and son I am today. People ask me, “Why do you talk to your dad? If he wasn’t there for you.” But I say, “Why not? Why be petty? I have to be the bigger man, even though he wasn’t there for me, he can be there for his grandchildren.” Make peace with the parts of your life. Making peace makes life easier. When I was going to school I was tatted up, looking just like another gangster. I wanted to prove them wrong. It was a good motivator.

When I first got to San Quentin in December, they thought I was Mexican not Native American. White Eagle, one of my elders, brought me closer to my native roots. I’m his cellie now. I’m proud to be Native American, being here made me connect with my inner roots. I know how to help people now. When one of my four kids is hurt, they come to me. “Dad, what’s wrong? Make it better.” With Covid I helped them not be afraid of testing, of getting sick. I talked with my daughter, my oldest, and told her, “Don’t grow up too fast. Don’t worry. Just be a kid.” I’m getting out in 12 days, so I can be there for her and my other kids. I just found out that my mom was in an induced coma after surgery and passed away after the surgery. So maybe I can get partial custody of my younger siblings.

This incarceration has made my relationship stronger with my fiance. I had doubts, but I see she really does care about me. I can’t wait to get married. She really stuck by my side through this all and I am so thankful to have her. I keep believing, anything is possible.

Verne, 70

Verne, 70

Meet Verne…

I have stabbed five or six people and immediately after each one, I felt no guilt or remorse, almost as if I were a psychopath or a person not conscious of wrong or right.

Verne, 70
Incarcerated: 28 years
Housed: California Health Care Facility, Stockton, California

I have stabbed five or six people and immediately after each one, I felt no guilt or remorse, almost as if I were a psychopath or a person not conscious of wrong or right. I did many things I am not proud of, but back then I gave very little thought. This is how I existed for thirty or forty years in and out of prison.  This was my life when I vaguely understood the way thought was processed. I came to prison in 1994, and for 26 years I maintained that same unaware demeanor. Then, in 2019, someone sent my name and number to the Syda Foundation, and in four years, they have vastly expanded my perspective and guided my understanding of my own mind.

Now please allow me to share with you some of my new perspective. I now understand that no one’s perception creates my reality except mine, and my reality is what I believe to be true. The way that reality is manifested into one’s experience is through his or her emotional excitement of that perceived belief. I now understand that you will receive no more out of your mind than you put into it, and to change one’s outlook, the thought perception has to change. Now I know what emanates or vibrates through one’s system and then reverberates back out through the aura is what is instilled.

This is what I have been instilling and its emanation is my total transformation: appreciation, kindness, compassion, thankfulness, harmony, humble humility, gratitude, gratefulness, loving understanding, friendship, respectfulness, spreading joy, inner laughter, consideration, humane kindness and last but not least – loving all with no exception. I have learned through the foundation that the meaning of a word provokes an emotional feeling. Then it reverberates back out in the form of energy where it is felt by all other forms of energy which is what connects humanity. Now that I have this new understanding, the energy flowing through me is totally positive. Now a flood of emotion has begun to surface, and remorse and regret have entered my conscious awareness. I feel sorrow for my past, and I ask for forgiveness everyday. Now I am a much better human being. The real reward is the positivity I am receiving from other people. That is the real blessing. Now I know I can return into society with a positive outlook and I know that positivity creates positivity. 

E, 42

Meet E…

I’ve learned in prison that I was both emotionally and mentally off-balanced. Worse were the similarities between prison and my childhood.

E, 42
Incarcerated: 18 years
Housed: Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Ossining, New York

The common aphorism, “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone,” rings no truer than with my kids. I am cuckoo about them and my nieces and nephews. They are all the motivation that gets me through each day. They are also the sources of my trepidations that sometimes keeps me up at night. Beholding the faces of my children, hearing their voices, their laughters and giggles, and those of my nieces and nephews is like the thirst-quenching glass of water on a hot summer day.

I’ve learned in prison that I was both emotionally and mentally off-balanced. Worse were the similarities between prison and my childhood. Prison can be a place of liberation for some, while for others it’s the total opposite, a place of frequent mental, physical, and emotional beatings. Similar to my childhood, here neither my feelings nor anything I say matters. The truths are considered to be lies, and the lies told about me are considered to be gospel; the caretaker is the abuser and the bully. I didn’t have a place of refuge while growing up, no one that I could trust and rely on for help; therefore, when needs or hunger came, which was regular, or when physical, emotional abuse came, I just accepted it, again, similar to prison.

Other ways that prison reminds me of my childhood is lack of help, and hunger. For reasons I will never know, other than two couples when growing up, people were unwilling to help me. In prison, all of my pleas and requests for help throughout the years were either completely ignored, or I was told they couldn’t help me. Child or adult in prison, it does not matter. Finding help has been an issue since childhood. For example, when I was younger, I lived with two family members. My late half-brother, who was my caretaker, was not around and my cousins, who never offered me any assistance, not even to bathe me or wash my clothes, which I didn’t know how to do then. Like everything else, being hungry in prison is no different from being hungry when I was growing up. It was and is a regular thing. My first prison-hunger incident, I was so hungry that I ate my nails to the flesh. I ate my own flesh! I didn’t realize it until I saw blood on my shirt and dripping down from my fingers. Even stranger still, I can’t recall tasting or drinking any blood, which I know surely had happened. Another time, I was so famished that I became delusional. For several minutes I kept opening and closing an empty food storage bin because each time I was convinced that I saw a piece of white bread in it. There never was. 

The things I went through as a child, while growing up, are still happening now. Thus, my trust in people is extremely limited. From 1-10, ten being a lot of trust, I am between 1.6-1.4. I am trying to trust because I need to survive; and all relationships require a level of trust. For a very long time I thought something was wrong with me. For people to have treated me the way they did. I reasoned then that I must have done things to people for them to treat me so badly and I was just swimming in denial; I didn’t want to take responsibility for my wrong doings. Now, I know I was not treated poorly because something was wrong with me, it was the hand I was given. I hope and strive for a better ending for my kids and myself.

Anthony, 56

Anthony, 56


Meet Anthony…

I was heavily abused and neglected both physically and mentally as a child. I was also forced to use drugs and alcohol by my siblings and their friends.

Anthony, 56
Incarcerated: 22 years
Housed: Valley State Prison, Chowchilla, California

I was born to a drug and alcohol addicted mother and suffered fetal drug and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. I was heavily abused and neglected both physically and mentally as a child. I was also forced to use drugs and alcohol by my siblings and their friends. My babysitter used to tie me up in ropes just so he didn’t have to watch me. I would scream and cry growing up but no one believed me or cared. I’ve been on suicide watch more than once. One day at the age of four, I was kidnapped in front of my school and thrown into a van. My dad and detectives found me five hundred miles from home in a stranger’s room. I also was bullied as a child. I suffered from a severe learning disorder, but by the grace of God and much PTSD trauma treatment, I didn’t give up, and now I try to help others. I got my GED, and now I’m in college working hard on a sociology degree. I’m also a certified youth facilitator mentor. All my family and my ex-wife have died since I have been in prison, but I am resilient, and thanks to Jesus and hard work I’m happy to be alive.

Regal, 62

Regal, 62


Meet Regal…

When you know your purpose on this earth, and you know your true value, then you know how much you truly are worth.

Regal, 62
Incarcerated: 23 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California

To watch Regal’s one minute video on our YouTube, click here.

Download the six minute version of Regal’s Song for Everyone here!

I finally figured it out. I wrote a song and isolated a key component that would allow a person to commit suicide and-or live a destructive lifestyle like mine. I inserted it into a song in the form of a question, because this question needs to be asked each and every day. Because for some of us who can’t answer it, find ways to destroy ourselves. 

Would you know your worth

When on earth

If you can’t answer this question right now that’s all right. 

Just for now, it’s fine to answer the question like this:

Maybe, maybe if I stop walking around with my head hanging down

trying to be like all the perfect pictures that I see in society

and just use my time to be a better person, a better man

maybe then I can comprehend 

the question that’s for you and me:

Would you know your worth

While on Earth

Maybe when I come to crossroads in my life

Where I can choose wrong or right

Listen to that small voice

And make the right choice

Maybe then being in touch from within

I will understand the question

That’s for you and me

Would you know your worth

While on Earth

Maybe maybe if I know daddy’s strong

I can admit when he’s wrong

I can’t imagine [??] in a fight

Doesn’t let it left all night

When the storms of life come around

He knows that his relationship is strong


And as the clouds part

Blue skies so clear

From a place of peace,

Right frame of mind

Anyone can hear

Would you know your worth

Right here on this earth

Or would you ever know your worth

Maybe if I know that all of the above

Was a self check for love

Because you can’t love nothing

Or no one else

Until you learn to love yourself

And all of life’s hard lessons

And falling down

Will reward you

With the answer

To the question

Would you know your worth

While on earth

Maybe you’ll know your worth

When you know your purpose first

Right here on this earth

No one can take it from you 

Not even you

You know how we do

You know what God can do

When you know your purpose on this earth

And you know your true value

Then you know how much you truly are worth

Here it is– the story of my life. I hope you enjoyed it. Answer this question each and every day. You’d be surprised how many people need to hear it. Thank you.

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