Ex-Lifers Come To Pinole Valley High School

Ex-lifers present to PVHS Law Academy students in the multipurpose room.

William Amaya and Annett Tamayo, Staff Writers

People don’t usually talk about the demons in their head, but these souls had the courage to do so in front of the upperclassmen of the Law and Justice Academy. Seven ex-inmates who were serving life sentences came out and described their past mistakes which led them to have first-hand knowledge of the criminal justice system from within. The ex-convicts described the trauma they underwent but also acknowledged the impact their decisions had on themselves, and now they “are a part of the solution, instead of the problem.”

We don’t believe it’s an uncommon sentiment to view murders as monsters but the Parole attorney told us she doesn’t see them as monsters but rather men, normal people who took the wrong path. The seven ex-inmates each told us their stories and while they all reached the same destination they all had different starting points. Many inmates came in with different stories. One woman was living with an abusive boyfriend who killed her child, thus leading her to retaliate. Another man killed a stranger solely for being demeaning towards his girlfriend.  Some of the inmate’s cause of actions were justifiable, and some were not.

Hector, an ex-lifer, served 15 years in prison due to retaliation. Hector moved to Orange County in an attempt to escape gang culture. However, his efforts didn’t work and he ended up in the same mindset. One day,  Hector went to visit one of his friends. When he arrived she was shedding streams of tears, Hector asked what was wrong, That is when he told her that, she was violently raped by one of her coworkers from Burger King. Hector wanted to give that man his reparations. One night while the rapist was clocking out of work, Hector and another friend were following him armed with the intent to kill him. When he stopped, they shot him at point-blank range, “by a miracle of God he lived” Hector said. While Hector wasn’t the one who shot him, he was still tried the same as if he had shot him.

After all the stories were shared, there was time for questions. 

What were you looking forward to the most after getting out of prison?

One inmate replied saying,” I wanted to be in relations with my daughter. She was born when I was in county jail.”

Another woman replied saying that she was eager to see her family. That is when she brought to light a reality within the prison. For women, the rate of visitors is only but a mere fraction of the rate of visitors among men. 

I really appreciated these people who came and shared their voices with us because it must be difficult accepting the cruel things that you have done. All in all,  I hope that this event helped students who feel alone and entrapped with the demons in their head. Hopefully, everyone realizes the path that they want to take as a result.