Christopher, 57

Meet Christopher…

I came to San Quentin with my bag of hate and prejudices fully intact. Not really thinking of change. I’m not saying Moe is solely responsible for opening my eyes, but he became part of the solution, not the problem. Moe became my best friend and I am still blessed by his presence.

Incarcerated: 21 years
There have been many ups and downs and too many faces for my limited memory. However, there was one gentleman who got past my concrete exterior and took up residence in my heart. Mr. Darnell “Moe” Washington. I’m not a person who uses words like ‘friend’ freely. I have two friends counting Moe, and I am not easily impressed. He was easy to see in a world of back-stabbing cut-throats, a man speaking from his heart, humbly offering to shake my hand. I was impressed. I came to San Quentin with my bag of hate and prejudices fully intact. Not really thinking of change. I’m not saying Moe is solely responsible for opening my eyes, but he became part of the solution, not the problem. Moe became my best friend and I am still blessed by his presence. After reading Moe’s posting, he once again inspired me to write to you. I have been resisting in writing to you with the belief I deserve more. I am constantly challenged by my own inadequacies and the feelings that surface. I’ve been in a funk. I would like to make a small gesture – with one hand I connect to my heart and with the other I reach out to the world. To all who can find at least one thing, about themselves, no matter how big or small, that you can be proud of. I send you my gratitude. Through you I aspire to be better.

Billy, 58

Meet Billy…

I chose to lead a sober life and finally found my higher power. My higher power spoke to me, saying – I still love you.

Incarcerated: 17 years
Housed: California State Prison, Corcoran

Until I started committing crimes and got strung out on drugs, I had a good life. I didn’t care about anything. I got with different women, sex, drugs and the high life was my way. Once my wife started to have my children, I thought my high life would cool down. Unfortunately, my wife and I loved drugs more. I got a life sentence after my third strike. My life became a nightmare when I was forced to dry out, no drugs, no alcohol, the party life was over. I chose to lead a sober life and finally found my higher power. My higher power spoke to me, saying – I still love you. That night I cried, I needed the Lord. Ten years later I’m still in prison but the Lord is still in my heart.

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!