2. How constructive do you see the prison as a form of rehabilitation? From my experience, they don’t focus on the rehabilitation. In one of the prisons I went, it was actually called “substance abuse facility” and there was no substance abuse program. I don’t see nothing that will work that helps us back into society.
3. What made you get involved with gangs? My background is in Long Beach. I left home at a young age. It was a blessing and a curse. I was too young to be on the streets. They provided me with families. I didn’t like communicating, my parents and my culture. If someone is in my place, I’d tell them to talk with their parents! I couldn’t talk to mine, to my dad, I found that on the streets, the friendship I didn’t find at home.
4. How has Homeboy Industries helped you re-enter into the community? Homeboy industries helped me. There’s all kinds. It’s a job, people need income, they provide a job. They provide classes, anger management, things that are beneficial to you. We talk so much, so many classes, it teaches you so much. They pay you to work on yourself! I’ m getting off parole, and I haven’ t done that since I was 9! I’m going to college now. I’m doing business and language. One time, I was speaking in class and I didn’t know how to speak. I was talking to a homie about how I wasn’t scared to talk to prisoners but it was hard to speak in front of Homeboy Industries, its society, I’m speaking to society. Judgement. Feels like people can’t relate to you.
5. Do you feel that Homeboy Industries or other programs like this benefit previously incarcerated people? Homeboy Industries does help! Now I feel like there’s no limits in what I can do. I have a homie, 19 years, and he is never getting out. Entered when he was 18. We used to talk about unlimited possibilities. I always think of him. I have the opportunity to so something. It’s difficult to understand, maybe there’s something I need to change, maybe I’ll find it. Just making peace for myself. Father G loves us unconditionally, we gotta learn to love ourselves and express that love to others.
6. Advice for students. What can we do? Well the government needs to create some type of rehabilitation process. You don’t make someone better by putting them in prison, you make them better criminals in there! If you don’t become one, you will become a targeted person. There’s nothing solid in my experience. You throw a person into prison based on their past history, even though I was clean for a year. Throw me in an environment where you have to look after yourself. You have to become that violent person if you want to survive. The prison culture, strong gang culture. I don’t see no solution to it. You have to learn I, if you want to function in society, you gotta learn it.
7. Gang culture and education: In the gang culture, you are encouraged to educate yourself, to learn how to talk, reading, philosophy, history is highly encouraged. We test each other, give each other books, some people really have talent. We study a lot. Its wisdom and that’s empowering. If we could get out and had the opportunity to go to college, it’ll be great, but now you’re in this society and you educate yourself. For example, I like history, the Aztec culture, it’s like the gang culture. Back then warriors went to war, willing to sacrifice and in gang culture, we idolize warriors then, then you have to follow orders. Be a warrior. Sacrifice yourself for a cause that in reality --- I don’t like it.