Why do you come to work at Root & Rebound every day?
Working at Root and Rebound is a fundamental part of my second chance at life. I reached out to Root and Rebound for assistance in transitioning from prison to society and was given an opportunity for employment. For me, it is the perfect opportunity to continue to help others, to advocate for restorative justice, and to be a part of this very special organization that focuses on assisting prisoners and the formerly incarcerated.
In 2005, I was sentenced to a total of 190 years-to-life for nonviolent theft crimes (Six 25-to-life sentences, plus 40 years, under California’s “Three Strike Law”). As I began serving my sentence, I recognized the need to transform my own life and concluded I could help that transition by living a life of service to others. I went to work almost immediately.
I was elected to the Inmate Advisory Council by my peers and began working closely with likeminded prisoner leadership and the prison’s administrative staff to create rehabilitative programs within the prison system. I was involved in the creation, restructuring, and implementation of multiple programs that included education, art, music, self-help classes, and a myriad of peer-to-peer taught classes.
I worked tirelessly to help raise tens of thousands of dollars for charities, including Blue Star Mothers, On a Mission, Inc., The Los Angeles Children's Hospital, Grace Resources, Deaf Dogs of America, and many more. My dedication to co-creating a program that provides PTSD diagnosed U.S. Military Veterans with service dogs was recently recognized by California Assemblymember Tom Lackey who awarded me with a Certificate of Recognition.
My own transformation and work in prison culminated when I became the first-ever prisoner sentenced to life to receive a Recall of Commitment from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). This happened pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(d), which authorizes the CDCR to recommend at any time to the sentencing court the recall of an inmate’s commitment if, “it is evident from the inmate’s exceptional behavior that is so extraordinary beyond simply complying with all regulations and procedures during incarceration that they have changed as a person and would be a positive asset to the community.” Through further service and advocacy, continuing to volunteer at multiple organizations, and more sustained effort to change the lives of others, I look forward to this next step in life.