NOVEMBER 19TH MARKS the five-year anniversary of the Men for Honor’s Sharing of Language class. Twice a month, twenty-five Hispanic prisoners, led by inmate facilitators Jessie Trujillo and Hilario Arroyo, gather inside the Facility ‘A’ education department where they share their experiences that steered them to crime and prison. “The men come here because they want help, then they learn we all have similar stories that got us in trouble: like dysfunctional households, alcoholic parents, even child abuse.” Says Trujillo.
The original intent for Sharing of Language was to create a safe space to teach English to the Spanish speaking population. For years, the Hispanic community has been grossly underserved on Facility ‘A’. Before Sharing of Language, the only Spanish-speaking program was a Sunday Church service. Sharing of Language has evolved into a support group where the participants can learn and grow from their peers without the stigma of a language barrier.
The group celebrated its milestone with certificates, food, and drinks. Special guest’s speakers from Healing Dialogue and Action Director, Javier Stauring, along with Brenda and Juanita, both survivors effected by violent crime, were in attendance. Sebastian, a class participant sharing his experience reflected, “My turning point came while I was in the Segregation Housing Unit, I realized that I was hurting my parents and I made a promise I would do good, I would change.” This October, Sebastian was found suitable for parole by the Board of Parole Hearings and is waiting to be released after twenty-two years of incarceration. “I am happy I came here—its classes like these that helped me change. I was surprised how everyone wanted to help me succeed.” Sebastian is the first Sharing of Language participant found suitable for parole. What makes Sharing of Language so unique is the fact that participation is voluntary—the men come because they want to change, they want rehabilitation. –Allen Burnett
To learn more about Healing Dialogue and Action or information about how you can support Sharing of Language, visit www.healingdialgueandaction.org
ON NOVEMBER13tha group of 100 plus family members, and prison reform organizations rallied outside the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, in an effort to bring additional awareness to the men and women sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). The families held up signs and banners asking Governor Jerry Brown to commute LWOP sentences before he leaves office in January. The demonstration was organized in part by long time sentence reform advocate Geri Silva of the Fair Chance Project, along with the help of the men of the Progressive Programming Facility at Lancaster. Prisoners from all over California were represented during the rally.
In a telephone interview with Geri Silva, she announced, “We took your personal letters to the Governor, family photos, messages, and proposals and created books that we presented to the Governor’s representative on prisoner’s behalf. Each prison had its own book—Corcoran, Pelican Bay, and California Institution for Women. The work isn’t done until LWOP is over and you are all home!”
Additional organizations in attendance were California Coalition of Women Prisoners, Place for Grace, Felony Murder Elimination Project, and Families United to End Life Without Parole (F.U.E.L.). Life without Parole implies that a person can never change that rehabilitation is not possible. There are currently 5,000 men and women sentenced to LWOP in California.
If you would like to learn more or would like to get involved, visit fuel @ endlwop.com or Fair Chance Project, Fairchanceproject.com
The men of the Paws for Life program volunteered to help the West Valley Shelter in Chatsworth by taking in twenty-one dogs effected by the Woolsey wild fires. Since the fires began, the fifty-nine men that make up the program are up at dawn each day wrapped in bright orange CDCR foul weather coats. The men are eager to lend a helping hand by feeding, walking and comforting the frighten dogs.
While tending to Misty, an adorable terrier mix, PFL trainer Curtis Loftis remarked, “I’ll never get tired of caring for these dogs they have so much spirit and life.”
A number of the West Valley dogs have lived inside the shelter for months. Louie Brash, another PFL trainer, laying inside a doggy crate with a handsome tri-colored terrier named Hennessey reflects: “you can tell this is the most physical contact he’s had in a long time, it’s like he forgot what it’s like to be touched.”
There are currently forty dogs being cared for in the Paws for Life K9 Rescue program that are in need of a loving family. Our prayers are with everyone effected by the Woolsey fire.
To learn more, follow about the Paws for Life program visit PawsForLifeK9’s@Instagram
The Men of the Progressive Programming Facility Give Back
Fundraiser to Victim Survivors of Violent Crimes
In 2015, the men housed on the Progressive Programming Facility began working with the Human Rights Watch, Healing Dialogue & Action and the Orange County Witness Assistance Program raising thousands of dollars in charitable donations to survivors of violent crimes. These donations, initiated by inmates in the spirit of rehabilitation, are a part of their living amends giving back to the communities and families victimized by crime.
This holiday season the men are once again working with Human Rights Watch and Californians Against Rare and Extreme Sentences (C.A.R.E.S) to help provide for those families in need. The voluntary effort of the men housed on the Progressive Programming Facility is an excellent example of inmates dedicated to personal growth and rehabilitation.