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.

Sean’s Gallery

Sean’s Gallery

Artist Sean, 34

At 17, I was transferred from juvenile hall to the county jail and held in isolation. The day after my 18th birthday I was moved into a dorm full of adult men. I was young and scared. I met two men who I would eventually be sentenced to more time than the two of them combined, life without the possibility of parole (LWOP), plus ten years for an enhancement; all for a crime I did not commit. During this time, I met an older Hispanic man covered in prison tattoos. His tattoos and prison experience made me nervous as he sat in the dayroom drawing. I was captivated by his effortless skill. After I got up the nerve to approach him, he was pleased to share his artistic knowledge. Using blank white paper and hair grease bought from the commissary, he taught me how to make tracing paper, then shade with graphite pencils, rolled up toilet paper, and elementary blending of colored pencils. My artistic journey began slowly and mostly consisted of simple cartoon images, but I was hooked. I enjoyed drawing and the peace it gave me.

Over the next several years, each new artist I met, I would ask for tips and advice. I found my passion in colors. I ordered books on colored pencils and studied them intently. I practiced their techniques, pushed beyond my comfort zone and began adapting my own techniques utilizing my accumulated knowledge.

Nearly two decades later I am sharing my artistic knowledge with others. Colors are still my passion and I see them in a way that allows me to blend them into vivid colors. I have always loved creating my art and sending it home to share with my family. I never thought I would be able to share my art on a platform such as Humans of San Quentin and I am honored to do so. There is very little beauty or color in prison, but even the concrete and steel cannot stop me from creating the colorful art I love to share.

Gregory, 43

Gregory, 43

Meet Gregory…

I am a thinker, a philosopher, an idealist, an athlete and a family man.
Incarcerated: 9 years – Housed: Corcoran State Prison, California

I am not free yet, but I am working on that. My way of the trail has been helped by my cellie, fellow prisoners and my community. By understanding people’s true intent, I’ve learned to get along with every prisoner through good and bad. I am a thinker, a philosopher, an idealist, an athlete and a family man. I am also working on my analyzing methods. Earnestness is my power and strength, giving me time to figure others out. Each individual lives by their own belief. I hope it will be on the right side. 📸 Gregory’s

Sean, 34

Sean, 34

 Meet Sean

I have seen men’s lives changed simply because someone believes in them, and is willing to invest their time and effort.

When I first heard Tim McGraw’s song, “Live Like You Are Dying”, I realized that despite my circumstances, I needed to forgive, otherwise I would destroy myself, and I need it to live.

Over the past 18 years I have found myself in my art, my ability to advocate for the incarcerated population, my education, and in my marriage. Through my colored pencil drawings I find tranquility and bring bright vivid color into the drab world of prison.

I began helping others by tutoring incarcerated men, often men much older than myself and from vastly different cultural backgrounds.

As many of these men earned their GED and expressed their appreciation for my help and support, I realized I had to make a meaningful difference in the incarcerated community.

I have now become an advocate for the incarcerated population I have served as Chairman of the Men’s Advisory Council and currently work as an inside organizer with Initiate Justice to further my own education I am earning my Associate of Arts degree for transfer through Bakersfield College and in my marriage to my childhood friend Emelia, I find the love and support I need to reach my potential.

I will also never forget the moment “Live Like You Are Dying” came on the radio at our first family visit. My wife ran into my arms and we sang every word as we danced together. I was living.

Becoming an adult wrongfully incarcerated in California’s prisons, I have seen the need for justice reform and restorative justice.

Upon my release I will complete my education with the support of Project Rebound at CSU Sacramento. Then utilizing my life experience and education, I will continue to advocate for social justice reform and the incarcerated population.