My name is Jorge, and I’ve done 27 years in prison, all for robbery. The last time, I was given a 60-year sentence, served 17, and was paroled in 2008. I’m on parole until 2051. I prepared for reentry by adopting a set of moral principles that guided my in-prison life. I did not expect parole so I decided that I wanted to live an honorable, dignified life, even while incarcerated. I spoke out against injustice, was respectful to others but demanded they respect me, and I educated myself because I wanted to be aware of the world in all its facets.
I have friends who have helped me since my release, but it is all predicated on the consistency of my behavior, the foundation of which I honed in prison. I am in graduate school, and my commitment to social justice has kept me involved in community work. I think that is the single most important idea ex-convicts need to keep in the forefront of their minds and to practice at all times – the truth that we must continually think of others and to seek ways to help others, because thinking only of ourselves is what allowed us to indulge in selfish, criminal behavior.