Albert “RU-AL”, 59

Albert “RU-AL”, 59

Meet Albert…

Albert “RU-AL”, 59

Incarcerated: 30 years

Housed: California Death Row, San Quentin

I am a success story. I’m Albert “RU-AL” I’ve been on Death Row for 27 years. I’m the author of ten self published books. When I first got to San Quentin in 1996 I knew this was going to be a long and slow ride to getting my freedom back for a crime I didn’t commit. I knew I had to find something to do  knowing the state wanted to execute me and 600+ other people. I heard a few guys had written books so I knew there was no gang banging here. I decided it was time to write my autobiography. I’m going to be the only black man on any death row in the world with ten self published books. I’m going to make history as well as leave a positive legacy for my great, great, great grand kids.

Below is a little bit about each one of my books. 

“Put On The Shelf To Die” A trilogy about my family, my trial and my conviction and my first 15 years on Death Row.

“10 Toes Down” My gang life on the streets, told like no other gangsta books before this one.

“Behind These Walls” After being in six other prisons before this one, my ganglife in these prisons.

“I’m In God’s Confinement” How my faith in Jesus has kept me safe in this hell hole of a place. The real me.

“S.O.D.R Spiritual Testimonies” I collected real testimonies from men about how their religious beliefs have helped them in this dark place. These testimonies are powerful and can be inspirational. .

“Our Last Meals?” I asked guys for one or two of their best recipes. Good cooked meals.

“I Survived Covid-19” How so many guys got sick and 19 on Death Row died.

“S.Q.D.R. College Graduate 203 G.P.A. ” It took me 11 years to finish but I didn’t quit. I have a double major in Social and Behavioral Science and Business.

“My Last Meals” The meals I cooked in the 25 years I have been on Death Row. .

All my meals.

“Eugene and Emeire” A four book series about my two oldest grandkids, Christian Children books, Bedtime stories and Sunday School Stories.

Tyrone, 53

Tyrone, 53

Meet Tyrone…

I’m proud of myself. I thought this dream was impossible”

Tyrone, 53

Incarcerated: 30

Housed: San Quentin State Prison

I really didn’t want to do this speech, but I’m learning to get comfortable with my un-comfortability.

But this is something I have dreamt of my whole life; walking across the stage with my cap and gown on with a smile on my face, like the graduates you see on TV. My dream of graduation came to halt at the early age of 14, when I derailed from the path my grandparents wanted for me; to get my education and to stay out of trouble. 

They didn’t ask for much, but I chose to follow in the footsteps of my father and uncles. That led me to become a gang member, and caught up in that criminal life style which lead me in and out of juvenile hall, county camp and youth authority.

I never stayed out of trouble long enough to get my education on the streets but before I came to prison, my grandparents asked me to make them a promise: that I would finish school.

I told them I would get my diploma if I was giving the opportunity. I came to prison July 1993, my grandfather rest in peace, died the following year

That day, I made a promise to myself that I would change my life and become a better person and that my grandparents would be proud of me. When I came to SQ state prison in November 2010, they had so many programs here including education programs. I told myself, this was the time to start working on changing my life.

I enrolled myself in as many programs as I could; like CGA, NVC, RSJ, Anger Management, Victims Impact, 12 step ministry, boot camp 1,2,3 Christian programs and many more. By taking these programs, I was now able to accept full accountability for my actions and behavior and to become the person I should have been, and the person who is standing before you.

I was given the opportunity to complete my dream of graduation and fulfilling the promise I made to my grandparents. I was accepted in to the High school diploma program and was told that I needed 33 credits to graduate.

Not knowing how challenging it was going to be, but I had made that promise to my grandparents, I would finish school no matter how difficult it may be and it was difficult, especially Algebra, which I still have nightmares about.

I am just grateful I have so many amazing people believing in me when I did not believe in myself.

My grandmother Teddies was the biggest supporter and loved me unconditionally. She was very excited and proud of me for getting my diploma, I sent her invitations and she was excited to come to watch me walk across the stage.

Unfortunately, She passed, June 10, 2023. She was a remarkable woman, loving and caring, she put everyone else’s needs before her own. She was a woman of God and I know she is in a better place. Her last words to me were she was proud of me and she could not wait to see me walk across that stage. This diploma is for you grandma, thank you for your love

Graduates, we have done it through struggles, ups and downs, even through the pandemic- – and we never gave up.

We should be proud of ourselves. Because we have succeeded by completing high school.

I know I’m proud of myself.

I thought this dream was impossible

I want to acknowledge some teachers for motivating me and encouraging me and being instrumental in helping me succeed as a student and reach my dream.

My teacher Lucas who has push me to reach my full potential and gave me the space I needed.

she pushed me to be better than I was content with being, thank you for being patient with me.

Sufi who motivated me to be myself and not to be afraid to ask for help.

My pride kept me from asking for help, but I knew I had to let go of that pride, if I wanted to complete this program, so, Sufi, I thank you for pushing me to be better and to hold my head up. My free to succeed mentor Karen, THANK you for your encouragement and always willing to help me with my assignments and being here when I needed someone to talk to. I thank you for your guidance.

I thank these amazing teachers for believing in us and pushing us to see our true potential

Getting comfortable with being un-*comfortable is a real form of growth and I thank everyone here in this chapel for showing up and witnessing our growth and determination to do better and be better.


Thank you and God bless you all


Pedro, 69

Meet Pedro…

“For me it’s a way to start giving back to my community. In my case, my community starts here.” 

Pedro, 69

Incarcerated: 25 years

I am in the process of rehabilitating myself. I am lucky to be in San Quentin, the right place where self-help groups are offered to address my drug and alcohol addiction. I started this prison sentence without a goal. However, there was one thing I knew I had to change, I decided “Enough is enough, I have got to stop doing drugs and alcohol, or I will destroy my life.” Then I made peace with the God of my understanding and for self improvement I set out to get my high school diploma. I also started going to Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Then, I got transferred to San Quentin. At first I was worried because of its notoriety of being a hard core prison, but that all changed. I found San Quentin to be a rehabilitation and educational institution. Here I found so much to do, that I needed to choose which program to take. I enrolled in Mount Tamalpais college. Then the pandemic hit and all the programs came to a halt!  It was early in 2021 when the pandemic restrictions were lifted and I was asked if I wanted to help to set up the new college library. The library was going to be in B-building, in the existing storage area known as cage #1 and cage #2. There were thousands of books in boxes. I started working right away by dusting off the boxes and shelves, as well as sweeping and mopping a year of dust and dirt. Inventory needed to be taken. The books were to be classified and counted, the idea to display them like in a bookstore developed. It was an easier method to identify and categorize them. At the same time while putting together the new library, they did not have a porter to clean and maintain the building’s classrooms and study areas. The building needed to be brought to post-covid cleaning standard.  The education department did not have a gardener, so I also took on the duties of gardening. This experience, working as a volunteer has helped me to make indirect amends for the wrong and harm I’ve done to my victims. For me it’s a way to start giving back to my community. In my case, my community starts here.

Carlos, 57

Carlos, 57


Meet Carlos…

“I have shared the thrill of victory and felt the agony of defeat, yet in each instant I always grew from my experience.”

Carlos, 57

Incarcerated: 26 years

My journey as a coach goes back over a 29 year span, I started coaching as a way to spend time with my three kids, I signed them up for the Oakland Dynamites Pop Warner Football Program, my sons played Pee Wee and Midgets and my daughter was a Jr. Midget Cheerleader, and I would show up to support them and watch as they practiced.

One day the coaches were late arriving, so I got the team warmed up while we waited for the coaches to arrive, and that was the start of my coaching journey. Moving forward the coach asked me to warm the team up before they arrived, and once the preseason started they had invited me to join their team as an offensive line coach. I didn’t know too much about coaching so they took me to a workshop to gain insight on how to coach kids at that level, as well as learn safety tips on how to identify kids that were hurt. I was also able to take the coaches test, and received my certification in coaching.

I’ve been coaching various sports ever since from football, baseball, and basketball yet my passion has always been the gridiron field. I have shared the thrill of victory and felt the agony of defeat, yet in each instant I always grew from my experience.

When I came to prison I had walked away from coaching because I didn’t have the drive of old that lured me to the game, and I succumbed to the prison lifestyle. I made my share of poor choices behind the wall. I have coached on every level yard from four down to two and I have had my share of successes on each one, as well as felt the sting of envy, hate and sabotage, yet I never gave up the hope to always share the fundamentals of teamwork, sportsmanship, commitment and dedication that came along with coaching.

For me coaching is my way of giving back, and it allows me the space to get to know the young men who felt unseen or unheard growing up the way I often felt. To me coaching has become my tool for rehabilitation, because without it I would trudge down the wrong path and make poor choices when those feelings of loneliness and low self-worth surfaced. I thank God that I was introduced to coaching all those years ago, because it has allowed me to truly dig deep within myself to understand how I’m feeling or what I’m needing in any given moment, as well as be a support system for the men who are willing to share their journey with me, as I share mine with them, and learn a little football along the way.

To me coaching is about showing up and showing out as a team on or off the field.

One voice, one team, one heartbeat.

I thank God every day that I’m able to have the patience to give back and be of service as a coach.

Zach, 31

Zach, 31


Meet Zach…

“When I walk, there is a grace about my stride that my clothes can’t hide.”

Zach, 31

Incarcerated: 2 years

The Black Man

I am a man. I am a black man. I am a black man transported from Africa, transformed in America. I am a black man whose roots stretch across the seas to the very land that gave birth to human-kind itself. I am a black man with a spirit and strength in my soul. When I walk, there is a grace about my stride that my clothes can’t hide. While I was building great civilizations, others were still in caves. I used complex equations and methods of construction to build pyramids to marvel. I’m a pacesetter, a record breaker, a co-creator with the creator. I performed the first successful heart surgery. I planned and designed Washington, D.C. I was the first man to set foot on the North Pole. I have scored more goals in basketball than any man in history, and I even broke Babe Ruth’s unbreakable record. I invented jazz to free my imprisoned soul. I was rappin’ before rap, and tappin’ before tap. Rhythm and Blues, I invented that too. The rhythm I received in Africa. The blues I got in America. I was forced to come to a land that was not interested in my strong body. Some tried to kill my mind with ignorance, but I became a master of survival.  I’ve been through slavery, separation, castration, miscegenation, so-called emancipation, Klu-Klux-Klanization, separate but equalization, civil rights legislation, frustration and I am still looking for complete social liberation. When I died, my tombstone read, “Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, I am Free at Last.” I am a black man who had to die to truly be free. I can read, I can write, I can speak and oooh can I preach. You see, I am so strong that I can afford to be weak, but so weak that I cannot afford to be without God. For I still have battles to fight in the hearts and the minds of those who would enslave me if they could. So you see, I am a BLACK MAN, but the question is, who are you? 

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