Victor, 54

Victor, 54

Meet Victor…

I scanned the dayroom, paying particular attention to people’s hands, looking for weapons, and to eyes and faces to see attitudes and signs of nervousness.

Victor, 54
Incarcerated: 27 years
Housed: Correctional Training Facility, Soledad, CA

Prison is a very dangerous place, especially in the crowded dayroom where we have to wait until the guards unlock our cell doors. So when my five foot, one inch, hundred and ten pound buddy, Cuba suddenly stopped talking and his sight appeared to see through me, I got a bit nervous. We had been talking for about five minutes and everything was fine. He was telling me about a funny incident that had happened at his job in the kitchen, and we were both laughing. I call him Mr. Magoo, he is a naturally funny guy. His strong Cuban accent and bubbly personality made his conversations extremely funny. That day, he made me laugh so hard I impulsively gave him a slight hug for a second or two, before backing up to continue laughing. That’s when I noticed something odd, “What’s wrong, is there a fight behind me?” I asked him. I quickly turned and scanned the people behind me. Everything seemed normal. The place was packed with inmates waiting for the cell to unlock but no fight or signs of any unusual tension. Cuba simply answered, “Nothing.” I still had some laughter to unleash. However, my little friend was still frozen and staring through me. I looked back again. This time searching more intensely just in case the possible danger was aimed at me. I scanned the dayroom, paying particular attention to people’s hands, looking for weapons, and to eyes and faces to see attitudes and signs of nervousness. Still, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, “What’s wrong Cuba?” I asked again. “You’re making me nervous.” “Nothing” he answered, but he would not look at me. He was still staring straight toward the wall. I moved to his left side trying to see what he was seeing. He was in his 60’s, so I wondered if maybe he was having a stroke. I’ve seen people having strokes, and they just freeze and stay silent. So, I asked him, “Are you okay Cuba? Do you feel okay?” He nodded yes, but remained a statue. “Cuba, please! I’m concerned. You’re getting me nervous. Please tell me what’s wrong?” After a few seconds, he looked at me, and in a very soft and broken tone of voice, he said: “Biktor, I’ve been locked-up for over 23 years and this is the first time someone has ever hugged me.” This time, I was the one frozen and speechless. From that day, and until the day he went home a year later, I hugged him every time I saw him.

Sarah, 43

Meet Sarah…

My hope is to get out and become a productive member of society. I learned by helping others that change begins on the inside and it is never ending.

Sarah, 43
Incarcerated: 17 years
Housed: La Vista Correctional Facility, Pueblo, Colorado

I never thought I was capable of taking a life. My worst nightmare became a reality and led me to incarceration. I was lost. I had no idea who I was or wanted to become. The only thing that I knew is that I had to be a good mother, girlfriend, daughter, sister, and friend. This meant taking care of everyone but myself. Just over 17 years ago I knew I needed to change. Little did I know just how much I would change over these years. When I found Go, I learned to lean heavily on all of his promises. He has seen fit to use me to help people inside with all kinds of different programs. Once I accepted responsibility for my actions, he helped form my character.

I went from being a liar, manipulator, and victim to being a woman who is transparent, honest, and owns what I do, good or bad. Knowing I have hurt so many people, I dedicated my life in service to honor my victims. It is how I hold myself accountable to the wrongs I’ve done. My hope is to get out and become a productive member of society. I learned by helping others that change begins on the inside and it is never ending. Happiness is a choice. I choose to be happy and I hope others will too.

Rolando, 37

Rolando, 37

Meet Rolando…

I’m working on furthering my education. I am also in self help groups to better myself and to find my way out of prison.

Rolando, 37
Incarcerated: 18 years
Housed: Valley State Prison, Chowchilla, CA

I’m in prison on a murder charge. I like to stay busy and out of trouble. I love to play soccer and listen to reggae, oldies and rap. My favorite movies: Fast and the Furious, Titanic and Twilight. I like to cut people’s hair.

When I started my time, I didn’t know anything about prison. One day, I was standing next to three people fighting in the yard. When the officer came to separate them, he thought I was fighting too. I told him I had nothing to do with it, I saw a commotion and walked away. He then asked the officer in the tower what he saw, he said I had nothing to do with it. That was one of the scariest incidents I’ve been through. Another time an officer dropped something while talking to a sergeant. I waited for him to finish talking, and told him he had dropped something and that he could get in trouble. He was proud of me, because he said there are not too many people like me. He told me to keep up the good work. I felt proud. I’m working on furthering my education. I am also in self help groups to better myself and to find my way out of prison.

Juan, 58

Juan, 58

Meet Juan…

I shot two men in a Jack in the Box in Waikiki to defend her with the pistol she used to try to save our lives. I’m schizophrenic and my English is not good, but I’m thankful for you.

Juan, 58
Incarcerated: 33 years
Housed: Halawa Correctional Facility, Aiea, Hawaii

I shot two men in a Jack in the Box in Waikiki to defend her with the pistol she used to try to save our lives. I’m schizophrenic and my English is not good, but I’m thankful for you. Throughout all these years, I haven’t gotten a single write-up. Here, they consider me a model prisoner, but unfortunately, they attacked me, broke my teeth and I’m currently suffering in my liver, heart and kidneys. I work in the chapel Monday to Friday, but for no reason, I have more enemies than friends. However, most of the staff and prisoners appreciate me a lot. May God bless and be with you. 

Receive more inspiring stories and news from incarcerated people around the world.