Antone, 28

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!

Dennis, 54

Dennis, 54

Meet Dennis…

I am currently employed as an ADA worker earning eleven cents an hour. I assist old and disabled inmates seven days a week, earning $17 dollars a month. I want another chance at life.

Incarcerated: 27 years
Housed: California Men’s Colony, San Luis Obispo

I am incarcerated for attempted murder. Twenty seven years later, I am on my way to my first board hearing in June. In which, no one is ever granted suitability at their first hearing. I am prepared to be denied parole. However, the timing is perfect because I do not have a strong support network that would put me in good standing with the board commissioners. I would like to seek and build a support network from the outside world to help prepare for my hearing. The CDCR has never offered inmates meaningful training or job trades to prepare us to survive in the 21st high-tech world upon release. Prior to prison, I dibbled and dabbled in the electrical field but never earned any certifications. I was self-taught. In every prison, I have run an electrical service hustle from my cell. This is what I want to do when I get out. Is there anybody willing to properly teach me electronic repair straight out of prison? A lot of basketball players are drafted into the NBA straight out of high school. Why not hire me for a job straight out of prison? I am currently employed as an ADA worker earning eleven cents an hour. I assist old and disabled inmates seven days a week, earning $17 dollars a month. I want another chance at life.

Davion, 23

Meet Davion…

Growing up, I never thought I would end up in jail. My brothers and sisters never went to jail. I never witnessed anyone close to me go to jail. I ended up being the youngest and the first one in my family to go to prison. I’d tell myself, “Don’t do it. For sure don’t do it.”

Incarcerated: 2 years

I’ve had a decade of violence from friends and family being killed by gun fire. The first time I saw a gun, I was 12. Thirteen of my friends have been killed by gun violence. More than 20 of my family members have died. I got my first gun at 14. At 15, I was wild with it, everyone around me had a gun, it was the thing to do if you didn’t want to get caught slippin.’ You defended yourself to survive. This drew me to prison. I was doing good otherwise, playing sports in school, trying to do something with my life and I wanted to go to college, but it was that gun. Guns make you do something stupid, like point it at someone to get money. Guns for my generation are huge. I even got them tatted on my hands. It was like buying Jordans when they were in, we’d wait in line for guns, clips and magazines. I wouldn’t say it’s the gun’s fault because someone controls the gun. It’s people’s fault. People like power. What’s the answer? Phew, wow…if they really wanted to stop gun violence, I truly believe they’d boost the age of owning a firearm, but there’s already so many guns out there. Taking away the Second Amendment so that no one has the right to bear arms, other than police to prevent robberies and crimes would do it. If people were to get ten plus years for having a gun, that would have kept me from getting a gun. It would have definitely saved me. If I knew my cousin got all that time for a gun, instead of 63 years to life for murder, it would have saved me. If only I could tell my 12 year old self what the future held. Growing up, I never thought I would end up in jail. My brothers and sisters never went to jail. I never witnessed anyone close to me go to jail. I ended up being the youngest and the first one in my family to go to prison. I’d tell myself, “Don’t do it. For sure don’t do it.

Jim, 73

Jim, 73

Meet Jim…

I was saved by the bell. The chow hall bell, signaling that dinner was ready. As soon as our door opened, he bull rushed toward his former cellie. He angrily tried to pick a fight with him.

Jim, 73
Incarcerated: 21 years

I held a position on the trash pick-up crew. I was relatively happy and making good progress through therapy and medication in moderating my bi-polar condition. I was sitting at a table in the visiting room with my aunt when I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard a voice say, “You have to move to Three Yard.” Three Yard is a b**ch. Guys can be brutal. Approximately 850 prisoners cram into a tiny yard for air. It’s no wonder that officers and prisoners were persistently grouchy. I asked, “Is there a library?” “Not an official library.” “Well, is there an unofficial place to borrow books?” Mr. Mahon, in the library, seemed to be a kind teacher, rare in my prison experience. I heard him say, “I’m trying to use my limited supply of books to put together a real library. You want a book, go to the back room. No pay, of course.” I went into the “back room” where I saw about 100 books in boxes. I also found an older prisoner who asked, “You looking for a job?” That’s how I got my strictly unofficial job at the temporary unofficial library. One advantage of this job was to have priority on books received. The cellies were generally much younger than me. A few of them were polite, but most were rude. I can’t remember any of them except for one – a 30-something thug from the San Joaquin Valley. We didn’t like each other from the outset, and we only lasted three weeks. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when I caught him making prison wine called Pruno, hidden under my bunk. “You can’t do that in here. If you get caught, I’ll get in trouble too!” “F*** you, asshole. I’ll do what I want.” By that time, I had enough of Three Yard. I hadn’t met with my mental health clinician in over a year. When I asked to meet with him, amazingly my request was granted. He was a good guy. He promptly greased the admin wheels so I could return to One Yard. I was installed on the top bunk with a young, bald tattooed brother who refused to allow me to put my property under the lower bunk. I had to sleep with my boxes, while he studied German out loud all night…with the light on. Oh well. Here we go again.

Armondo, 44

Armondo, 44

Meet Armando…

I was a violent, domestic partner. It took me 15 years of being in prison to accept I was wrong. I led myself to prison. I was selfish and harmful, consumed with negative behavior and gang activity.

Incarcerated: 15 years
Housed: California State Prison, Lancaster

Everyone needs someone in their life to keep them going while in prison. The love I receive from my family has gotten me through each day of the last 15 years. And my 17 year old son Angel, who needs his father to come back home. I worry about tomorrow. Not knowing if my son will want anything to do with me or when I will be back home. I have not been there for him since he was two. The worry of coming home with my parents not being there. I lost my mother to cancer and my only sister Lorena passed away. I stress about Vanessa, the mother of my son. If she still has a special place in her heart for me. Does she care for me? I guess what keeps me up at night is my past. Everyone who I left behind before coming to prison. Those I love. I have learned that I’m stronger than I ever knew. I’m able to change the old me and be a better version of myself. I learned to be patient with others. To choose my words before speaking. I learned that I had an addiction. It took control while I was in denial and I blamed others for my actions. I was a violent, domestic partner. It took me 15 years of being in prison to accept I was wrong. I led myself to prison. I was selfish, harmful, consumed with negative behavior and gang activity. My parents gave me and my sister everything we needed. They were great role-models. They loved us and spoiled us. The only thing missing was spending time with us. I have learned it is called being “neglected.” I chose to find comfort in the streets. Those friends caused me to be in prison for a long time. I learned I don’t have to be there to be part of a crime, I was supporting the gang lifestyle. I have a board hearing in 2027. By then I’ll be 21 years in prison and 50 years old. What a life lesson.