Basically I was obsessed with a girl from school. Like psycho obsessed, and when I finally developed the courage to ask her out, she said no. I fucking snapped and went to her house in a kinda hostage situation and stabbed her. Horrible shit man. I have horrible remorse for it. She is “ok” in that she is alive and well, but what I did to her will last forever
What’s your background story? Drugs, broken home, mental disorders? What made you become that kid that would shoot up your school if given the chance? Were you the weird kid or was this kinda out of no where type of shocking news to everyone around you type of thing?
To be kinda quick about it, my dad was very abusive. He would beat the fuck out of my mother and us. I was severely overweight my entire life, had no friends at all. I stayed in my room and played video games nearly every day. Therapy wasn’t an option, because men don’t go to therapy. I had this intense rage built up for so long that it kinda exploded. Btw, I’m not blaming them, because plenty of people have grown up with those same problems. I made a choice and I had to own that
I’m curious how you got into that state of mind to be so angry as to want to hurt people. We’ve all been through the trials and tribulations of being a teen and agree that’s it’s a rough age but was wondering how you went from angry teen to “violent criminal”?
To me it was years of pent up rage from bullying, abuse at home, no known way for me to let go of that, and finally exploding. I didn’t have the proper coping skills to deal with that. When I made the decision to try to kill her, and this will sound weird, I felt relieved. I had meant to commit suicide as well, but it didn’t get that far
Being only 17 at the time, do you feel as if you were sentenced fairly?
Absolutely! At the time I didn’t think so. I was sentenced to a life sentence, but got approved for parole just last year. I made all the excuses you could, but in the end it was all me. Again, I was 17 and was a very psycho, fucked up kid. If I knew how to get a gun I probably would have shot up my school, that’s how fucked up I was.
They way the system works, they didn’t have to let me out if they didn’t want to, but I worked hard and changed as muc
What type of prison were you in? Publicly run, size, security etc.
I was at High Desert State prison, Folsom, San Quentin, Solano, And a new prison that opened a couple years ago called California Health Care Facility. High Desert was the highest security you could go. Folsom was kinda rocking. San Quentin was actually kinda cool! Lol, at least it was historic, not cool haha
How long did it take you to settle in to prison life?
Took about 3 years to not be totally afraid, then a couple more to settle in.
What was the worst part about prison?
Worst part was being on a level 4, highest you can go, with other guys with Life without parole who don’t have anything to lose, and will kill you like nothing.
How about the best part?
The best part was training dogs. It gave me a career and a appreciation for life and taught me to be unselfish
How was life in prison all that time? In movies and such we hear people talk about getting raped inside prison. Did that happen to you?
Haha, never got raped. It actually doesn’t happen almost at all, at least from the prisons I went to. There was definitely consensual things going on. Riots happen, fights happen, stabbings happen, but not really rape. I was very lucky to avoid those things though. Really lucky.
Why lucky? Even a guy who keeps his head down is in danger or is it just unavoidable if you are social in the slightest?
Well, you can always get caught up in danger, even if you stay in your cell all day. Im mexican, so if there were problems with the black guys and the mexicans, the black guys don’t give a shit if you’re not with the gangs. You’re brown, you get attacked on sight
Since you weren’t a part of the gangs, how did you know when you had to watch out for that kind of thing? Did you have to fall in with those guys at all for protection, or even just getting a heads up that shit could start?
Oh you know when shit’s gonna go down! You can feel it man. And when it does it’s such a surreal experience. Yeah, you kinda have to be a part of some group. Luckily I worked for the Captain at most places I went, so I wasn’t needed for violence. I was used to get rid of write ups for infractions, shit like that
Prison food on a scale of 1-10. How was it?
Definitely a 2. the only good days were holidays. We actually got special meals for Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July
How do prison gyms work? Are they normal steel plates? Is there any fear of an inmate crushing someone’s skull with a plate or a bar?
We didn’t have weights, just bars, dip bars, pull up bars etc. We did have medicine balls, yoga things like that, but no free weights. I mostly ran a lot. I went in at 310 and now I’m at 206 so I did good without weights.
How easy was it for you or other inmates to “smuggle” stuff in? Any specific stories where someone was caught?
Very easy. Cell phones, heroin, whatever you want you got it. Guards, nurses, you just got to find the right person to bring it. You could bring in some cheap ass $50 Walmart phone in and sell it to an inmate for $500-$1000. I could understand why it happens so often. It happens so much its not even an event
How would inmates keep them charged up? I’d imagine electrical outlets would be scarce
Cells have plenty of outlets. Plus we get power strips so no big deal
Does everyone just jerk off and not talk about it? Is it taboo to jerk off?
As long as your cell mate is gone (or if you’re into that he could be there too lol) you’re fine
Prison guards are portrayed as uneducated bruisers and corrupt. What was your experience with them?
There are always bad cops, but in general they reflect what is shown them, in my experience. I never get harassed or anything because I would say good morning or shit like that. It’s not personal to them, its a job. For the most part its a leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone kinda thing
Did you get an education in prison? what did you do with all of your free time?
I did! Graduated HS, went to college, learned 3 trades, trained dogs. I worked out (typical right?!) watched movies, play sports, read, worked. Prison isn’t as horrible as you might think. It’s still bad and I will never go back, but it wasn’t too bad. I had ample opportunity to change and took advantage of that
Any student loans?
Haha, no student loans. All of it was paid for by your taxes. How you feel about that I don’t know, but I didn’t waste that chance
Wait, you get college paid for in prison?
I learned how to weld, Fiber Optic Cabling systems, Accounting, all free. I couldn’t believe it either man
Do you have any interest in applying those skills to employment?
Not currently. I also trained service dogs in there, and I work for that organization now. Definitely a dream job!
Are there any, surprising, day to day realities of prison that people don’t know about?
I think the most surprising thing is how monotonous it is sometimes. You can almost see everyone do the exact same thing every day, almost down to the minute! This guy will start working out at 8. Other guy brings his books and sits right by the gym. The poker table gets going right after dinner. SSDD and it’s hard not to get caught up in that routine
During your sentence, we’re you given the proper tools to cope or is your current state the result of years of reflection?
Both really. A great mix of people who supported me from the outside (family, friends), staff members who actually gave a damn. I was able to take classes, read books, and had the time to actually absorb and learn. There’s the saying, “You can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink” and that definitely applies. If I wanted to, I could have stayed in there and just rotted the rest of my life and did nothing. I could have had free meals, watch tv all day, no rent, utilities, no worries right?! But that is no way to live, at least not for meh as I could
What things did you learn in prison that wouldn’t have been possible to learn outside?
The things I learned inside could be learned out here, I just didn’t have the usual distractions to the learning process. I had ample time to read and go to school and do homework. As for as the intangibles, I would say learning that even with how horrible some of the people’s crimes were in there, they are still human beings, and its easy to just throw them away. There is some reasons people did what they did, whether its murder, rape, burglary etc. but if you can’t save them, you can learn from them and hopefully save someone else before they turn into that person. Kinda of an example maybe. People say if you could go back and kill baby Hitler, would you, and the answer is always Yes!! But what if you went back and taught him how to be human and actually try to do good in the world? I don’t know if that makes sense
What are some of the major flaws and successes of the prison system that you’ve noticed from the inside?
Biggest flaws for sure is the lack of oversight for staff. They say prisoners smuggle contraband in, but 99% of the stuff comes from the staff. Success I think is that now people like me are starting to get chances to change. There was a lock em up throw away the key mentality, and that wasn’t working
What reasonable change should occur in the justice/prison system in your experience?
Incentivize education. Get your degree, get a year off your sentence. Learn a trade, get 6 months off. That’s an immediate fix. Long term, there are guys in there with possession of substances that have like 30 years, and really have no reason to be in there
How is life now that you have been given freedom again?
Life is good man. I definitely took freedom for granted.
Do you keep in touch with anyone you met in prison? Are there people you met inside who you think should be released as well?
I do! I have a couple of friends who are out that I keep in touch with. There are a couple of people inside as well. I trained dogs in there, so I keep in touch with the guys that are also in the training program, send the dogs food, dog treats, toys
What are the biggest changes you see around you from when you went in?
Definitely the disconnect with other people. How isolated people are from one another. Its kinda weird
How crazy are cell phones now in comparison to the green screen nokias in 2005?
The only game I had on my phone in 2005 was Snake II. Now I can learn a language, produce music, whole world in my hands. But mostly I just watch porn and look at memes lol. I got used to the free world fast!
Do you think society has changed much after a decade?
Yes! I was arrested in 2005, so it wasn’t too bad technology wise, but it was so weird coming out here and walking down the street and not have one person looking up lol! There is definitely less personal connection than before
How is your relationship with your family now?
It’s a whole lot better. I think this really woke them up, sobered them up. I am very open with them now, and we rely on each other, where as before we were all in these bubbles, living our own separate lives
Do you consider yourself to be a much different person now?
Absolutely. I was a sick, selfish, monster of a kid. I said in another comment if I knew how to get a gun, I probably would have shot up my school. Ive done a lot of soul searching and changing in my life. Trust me, with a life sentence, they didn’t have to let me out, but I proved how I’m not that angry kid anymore
What do you plan to do with your life going forward?
I’m actually a dog trainer for a non profit. They had a program in one of the prisons I went to that trained dogs to be service animals. I now work for that organization. Best experience of my life, and I’m able to make amends and actually help people, hopefully use the rest of my life and freedom to change peoples lives for the better
What can prisons do to better rehabilitate people in preparation for release? You seem to have your plans lined up but many that are released are aimless or just wind up incarcerated again
I think people have opportunity to prepare, but you have to want to. Some gang member in for 3 years doesn’t give a shit about getting his degree. That being said, they really don’t have incentive to take advantage of those things. Maybe if there was a merit system, like if you get your HS diploma you can get 6 months or something like that off your sentence that might help, but tbh for the most part there are opportunities in there