(From a July 20 @VoicesOfSanQuentin Instagram post)

Chris paroled from a life sentence after more than 20 years in prison last week Monday, July 13, 2020, and is now in quarantine in a motel room in Southern California. He was our featured voice yesterday and starts today with a lighter anecdote about how everyday activities, such as taking a shower, can be so different.

What else has Chris been doing since he got out? Catching up on cable ESPN on a flatscreen TV and enjoyed an @innout and a friend sent him @grubhub. He’s also excited about the thermostat in his room, being able to turn on the A/C or heater and having a sliding door to a balcony to get fresh air. And oh yeah, he’s gone down the rabbit hole of Gmail, Google and YouTube and has been reading about gold mining and airplane engines.

Chris was supposed to parole to San Francisco, but was transferred from San Quentin to Los Angeles. While initially frustrated, he is just glad to be out and now taking all the steps and getting paperwork filed to get back to San Francisco where his “family” — his coaches and fellow runners of the 1000 Mile Club (the prison’s long distance running club @sqmarathon) — are waiting for him. #runfree

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the overall recidivism rate in the state averages at approximately 53%. But for those who have received life sentences, it’s about 1-5%. Parole officer formerly in charge of all lifers released to the city of San Francisco cites a lot of reasons for this vast difference in rate of return. Many “age out” of doing crime and have “done more introspection and are simply more mature. Usually they’ve done the hard work to prepare for release back to society. They don’t want to go back [to prison].” 

While the state is calling for the release of 8,000 people in prison, health officials are calling for a 50% reduction. Twenty-five percent of people in prison are age 50 years or older — the demographic that has “aged out” of crime. Progressives in criminal justice argue that the mass incarceration problem in this country will never be solved if we only address releasing non-violent offenders because the majority of incarcerated people have committed violent crimes. Go to the link in the profile to see how you can raise your voice and take action! #stopsanquentinoutbreak #carenotcages #human

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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@VoicesofSanQuentin is a social media platform that amplifies the voices inside and beyond the walls of San Quentin State Prison. Follow on Instagram: @VoicesofSanQuentin; Follow on Twitter: @Voicesof_SQ