We start our weekly team meetings at Donovan prison with a circle in which everyone shares what’s happened over the past week. Ups, downs, visits, classes, programs, trials, successes…
Some Tuesdays are cause for celebration, like a few weeks ago. As we went around our circle of 15 men, we learned that
- One had his sentence reduced significantly with prop 57 as well as all of the programming and education with which he’s fills his days
- For another, a judge ruled that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime for which he was convicted. If he was not at the crime scene, it becomes difficult to argue he committed the crime. Next steps TBD
- Another sees a new path to clemency on which his family is embarking
- Another received a new release date of next spring and will likely be heading to a rehabilitation camp before then
- And the kicker of them all: one guy had been away from Donovan for several weeks for a retrial. He left us with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. He came back to our team with that sentence reduced to life with parole and, with his decades of incarceration, is now up for parole. If found suitable, he could be walking out of prison within a year!!!!!!
All of these are MASSIVE news for each of the men concerned. All but one of these men has spent more than two decades in prison. Can you imagine being sentenced as a juvenile to spend the rest of your life in prison, being told that you’re going to die in prison, and then, just like that, with a few words pronounced by a jury, being told that you have a possibility of seeing the streets again?
When I asked the last guy how he felt, he said he was still floating, having not fully processed the whirlwind of the previous weeks. He’s still pinching himself, wondering if this is but a dream.
For most people in prison, their wildest dream is to see the streets again. They have made the difficult decision to change their ways and place all of their determination, dedication and constant efforts every day to transform their lives. The above celebrations acknowledge them moving one step closer to this dream of walking out of those prison gates.
What is your wildest dream? How can you increase your dedication and commitment? What small steps are you taking every day towards your big bold wild dream? Let these men’s stories be a source of inspiration. If they can do it, so can you.