Megan, 35

Megan, 35

Meet Megan…

“It’s ok to take life one day at a time. It’s ok to make mistakes. My mistakes and choices are what brought me to prison, but if it wasn’t for my mistakes, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Without my mistakes, I would not have a testimony.”

Megan, 35

Incarcerated: 7.5 

Housed: Anson Correctional Institution, Polkton, North Carolina

My entire life revolved around drugs and destructive relationships. It wasn’t long, I dropped out of high school and moved out of my parents’ house. I was 15 years old. All I wanted to do was find comfort, and I tried to find that in the wrong people and the wrong places. I never thought about what my life was going to be like 10 or 15 years down the road. My life consisted of using drugs or being around them. If people weren’t contributing to my drug use, they weren’t a factor in my life. I gave up on the true meaning of life. I gave up on my daughter and on myself. I pushed everyone away due to the pain I was holding onto. It was only causing me more damage than what I already had inside of me, including the ones around me. I’ve had my ups and downs these past 7.5 years, but I have never felt more free or more at peace in my entire life than I have these past few years. I only have God to thank for that. When you finally find yourself after feeling lost for so long, you start to see things much clearer. You no longer want to take life for granted, you see the bigger picture in life. It’s ok to take life one day at a time. It’s ok to make mistakes. My mistakes and choices are what brought me to prison, but if it wasn’t for my mistakes, I would not be who I am today. Without my mistakes, I would not have a testimony. My mistakes are what saved my life. I now know how to be a mother to my daughter. I’ve overcome my drug addiction, that was the biggest demon I ever had to fight, and I did it alone. I want to continue to be here for my daughter. I want to live! The first lesson in overcoming our pain is forgiving ourselves, and forgiving others. Without forgiveness, there is no moving forward. I want to make a difference, one day at a time. There is life after drugs. There is life after a life sentence. We can be set free inside these walls. What we achieve at our best moments doesn’t say much about who we are; it all boils down to what we become at our worst.

Anthony, 61

Anthony, 61

Meet Anthony…

“I stole for her, robbed for her, lied for her, deceived and manipulated family and friends for her, and I even committed murder just for her.”

Anthony, 61

Incarcerated: 37 years

Housed: Valley State Prison – Chowchilla,  California

My ex-girlfriend CC was a white girl. She was the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world and I sincerely loved her with every single breath, my heart and my soul. She was like a God to me, I worshiped her. It was like she brainwashed me and had me under her magical spell. I put her first before my family and everybody else. I did whatever I needed to do because I was a loyal, dedicated, and committed slave to her. I stole for her, robbed for her, lied for her, deceived and manipulated family and friends for her, and I even committed murder just for her. My ex-girlfriends name was Crack Cocaine and she destroyed my life too. I am an African American male and I am serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) for a murder, burglary, and robbery conviction. I was 24 years old when I was arrested for murder, burglary, and robbery on April 23, 1986. Thanks to the nonprofit, Legacy Alliance and its founder Mr. Michael Baldwin, I found my purpose and calling in life. I am a mentor to men and women and a peer support specialist. From Legacy Alliance and Tarzana Treatment Center College, I discovered shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment. I am now able to help others enter and stay engaged in the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of relapse. People battling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma, I have learned by listening, being compassionate and having empathy, affects them emotionally. “He that conceals his grief finds no remedy for it,” a Turkish proverb. I enjoy just being a friend to a person who needs a friend to talk to about their PTSD and/or trauma.

Michael, 41

Michael, 41

humans_michael_202308_valleystateprison_3

Meet Michael…

My name is Michael, I breathe air and I am not a monster. Thank you for giving me a face, a voice, and for seeing me as a person.

Michael, 41
Incarcerated: 23 years
Housed: Valley State Prison, Chowchilla, CA

Growing up in a poor household I can remember being different, sounding different, and feeling like I didn’t fit in. I came to learn I had a learning disability and stuttered. I felt less than, devalued and worthless. I was made fun of in my household, and with my classmates which reinforced my bad feelings about myself. I could not read, nor learn as the teachers wanted me to, so I acted out and became the bully, so I would not be bullied.

I began to use drugs to cover up my feelings of worthlessness, insecurities, and inadequance. My addiction progressed from pot, alcohol, to mushrooms then acid. By 15, I had been in juvenile hall and a boys ranch numerous times until I committed my life crime at 18. I was an out of control, extremely calloused and violent young man. While incarcerated from a young age with an extreme sentence, I continued my dysfunction in a maximum security prison. I had deflections and an aggressive attitude.

Ten years into my sentence I was stabbed eight times and removed from the yard for surrendering my life to my faith of Jesus Christ. I was shipped to another prison with more programs, self-help groups, and education. My mother passed away from her addiction, my life was in shambles, but I had my faith. I leaned on my support and coped in a healthy way. It was my first test in recovery and I passed. My job wanted me to get a high school diploma, and I barely knew how to read.

I was transferred to a new prison and met Ms. Drake, who saw potential in me. “I’ll hire you as a clerk, if you give me your word you’ll get your diploma.” This was the first time in years someone believed in me. I agreed. She helped me, gave me reading materials, taught me math, and assigned me a tutor. I poured all my time and energy into studying. I passed my test. Ms. Drake was proud of me and so was I. She said, “off to college now”.

One day a student rushed into the education department wanting to stab Ms. Drake. I intervened and placed myself in between them and deescalated the situation by using calm words and listening to his frustration, while protecting her. The officers came and took him away. I had protected another human being. I got a life saving certificate which could take time off my sentence or help in my parole board hearing.

My life began to get some normality. I continued my education, and my ministry and I started facilitating self-help groups. I will graduate in 2024 from Fresno State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies. Today I live my life as a memorial to my victims. My life is for service and giving back to my gated community. I hope and teach that one less crime equals one less victim. I honor God by living a sober life that praises Him with my words, actions, and service. I am a human that is kind, respectable, calm, loving, caring, and compassionate.

My name is Michael, I breathe air and I am not a monster. Thank you for giving me a face, a voice, and for seeing me as a person. God bless you.

John, 64

John, 64

Meet John…

My fear is that I will not get a second chance to use all I know after prison.

John, 64
Incarcerated: 28 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison

I thought I was going to be a great father. Turns out I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I was a great provider for my wife and two kids. I kept a roof over their heads. They got everything they needed, except for me. I had a great job, but it required me to work overtime, not just a few hours a week but sixteen hour shifts four to five days a week. I enrolled in a carpenters apprenticeship school and learned the trade at 18. I worked as a pipefitter during the winter months. I learned a great deal about pipefitting and plumbing. With some instructions from other welders, I became a state certified welder. That was a big day for me!

I believe if I had grown up with a fathers guidance, it would have turned out totally different. Life was hard growing up. I was abused by different men and women that my mom would bring home from time to time. I was lost. All I wanted to do was get away as soon as possible. I’m sorry to say it was no different for my older sisters. I left home at the age of 16. I worked odd jobs here and there with my uncle. I got married at 18. How did I get through all these hours? I got turned on to meth. It was at that moment my life changed forever. I became a different person. It led to all my troubles. When I fell, I fell hard.

I’ve been incarcerated for 28 years now. I’ve often thought about paroling and what I would do. My greatest fear and why I’m writing is to share my fears about life after prison. With all my skills and knowledge about pipefitting, carpentry, plumbing, welding and general supervision. I fear there won’t be anyone out there to hire me. I have a lot to contribute to someone that would give me a second chance. Who out there would want to hire a 67 year old parolee?

Wyatt, 23

Meet Wyatt…

I’ve battled with addiction and losing the most cherished person to me: my mother. What helps me get through this time is never forgetting the love and memory of my mother.

Wyatt, 23
Incarcerated: 5 years
Housed: East Arkansas Regional Unit, Marianna, Arkansas

I’ve battled with addiction and losing the most cherished person to me: my mother. What helps me get through this time is never forgetting the love and memory of my mother. One day, it led me to wake up and tell myself that I’m through living like this. I want somthing better. I quit getting high cold turkey and continue to push myself further each day. I work out constantly, all in the efforts of making my mother proud, even if she isn’t physically with me. I have almost gotten my GED, (one test away) and will finally have completed a hard-earned goal.

I still plan to achieve more each and every day, not only to become a better man, but to show my mom looking down on me, she didn’t fail in raising me. So, I don’t only write to Humans of San Quentin or to my mother; I’m sharing to anyone who’s looking for that small light at the end of the tunnel.

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