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Letter to Governor Brown: Please Sign Assembly Bill 1909 (Lopez)
New report by the Justice Policy Institute seeks to rethink America’s approach to violence to combat (over-)incarceration
Walking The Yard

Walking The Yard Update – Fall 2014

First off let me say CONGRATULATIONS to the men and women participating in our “Walking the Yard” mentoring program. We’ve had a great 2014 as more and more lifers are finding out about our organization and what we have to offer. I’ve heard from inmates in Oklahoma, North Carolina, Arizona and New York that want information about WTY. Our mentors have made a huge impact on the young men and woman just entering prison so Thank You for the outstanding job you’re doing.

We’ve written 100’s of support letters and certificates for those mentors going before the BPH, and the BPH is taking notice as well as some prison administrators, staff, and even some CCI’s and wardens!! That’s right, some prisons like Chuckawalla, Ironwood, CMC, CTF, CIW, Corcoran and RJD are in the process of trying to make WTY the official lifer activity group for their institution so they can have fundraisers to help us out with donations. With our inmate membership growing (over 300) our newsletter is also a big hit and in big time demand. We’re getting more community support as well as more newly released inmates are stopping by wanting to help in this growing movement. We expect even more growth as inmates released under Prop 47 start coming home. (I’d like to add that Fair Chance Project and the Youth Justice Coalition Lobos were very instrumental in helping to get out the vote to get Prop 47 passed!!)

There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of issues we want to tackle if only we had the funding. Here’s a couple items on our wish list. We wish we could expand our community free legal clinic to where we could help a few inmates with writs and appeals. We would love to be able to employ some inmate paralegals when they get out to handle that. We also wish we could get a transitional house so we could have somewhere for FCP members to parole to and continue the work they’ve been doing. We wish we could buy a truck to expand our food distribution and Brush of Kindness programs. I could go on and on but I think you get my drift. Still, please know that there are a lot of volunteers out here that are working hard on prisoners behalf. Progress is slow and sometimes hard to see but I can feel the support growing, so continue “Walking the Yard”.

In our last issue I listed comments from some of the WTY mentors found suitable for parole and what they thought about they’re experience with Fair Chance Project. This issue I want to list some of the comments from the mentees about their experience with the WTY mentoring program.

The Walking the Yard mentoring program has been very helpful to me because it has opened my eyes for what life is all about. Before enrolling in this program my mind and thought process was set upon one way of thinking: Myself. Little by little as the days would come and go through this program seeds would be planted in my mind that I would later reflect up. While reflecting, my mind became somewhat awakened to reality and is still growing. I thank this program for helping me and my selfish ways, because it’s not about myself but family.

Thanks to the WTY program I have found someone I can go to when I need to talk, or just get some positive advice. The influence and positive encouragement I get from my mentor has helped me build trust and made me more confident in myself to achieve a higher potential. My mentor helped me realize that even in this environment we can still be productive individuals and make a difference.  

I have two small children and it’s been difficult trying to be a father and role model to them from in here. My mentor gave me hope and led me to the right resources that enabled me to learn how to be a father with dignity and still make a positive impact on my children’s lives. Now I’m starting to take action and make better decisions by enrolling into self-help groups, parenting classes and enrolling into college. I truly & genuinely appreciate my mentors guidance and encouragement, but more importantly his friendship.

My mentor helped me realize how the choices I make in life effect so many other lives. He helped me to see a better way to communicate with people especially my wife and how spending time with her and my kids is very important. I’ve learned that I need to be more responsible.

My mentor has showed me how to talk out situations instead of reverting to violence. He has taught me a lot and I’m grateful God has put him in my life.

Being able to be aware and see things you couldn’t see when you were younger gives you a new perspective on life. With that awareness you want to do better and try to give back what you took from society with your bad behavior by helping others.

  •  Before talking with my mentor I was just doing time, doing what I did every day. Now he has motivated me to do something with myself, to take advantage of this time and not waste it, learn something that will help me in life instead of just hanging out on the yard working out.
  • What the program did for me is help me conduct myself in a better manner and realize all the options I have and using them in a positive way and staying away from negative choices.
  •  This program has helped me with being able to manage my time and not make rush decisions, to think things through. Gives me a feeling that I can accomplish and succeed in society.

These are just a few of the comments I’ve received from the mentees I’ve got hundreds. I read each and every comment and evaluation of the mentors and the effectiveness of the WTY program. The program works!! To summarize what the majority of the mentees have said the program provides for them is easy. These young men and women just want someone to listen to them. Their issues and problems are just about all the same. We’ve all been there and had the same issues that they are having except we had to learn the hard way on how to deal and cope on our own. Anger problems, family problems, wife/girlfriend problems, husband/boyfriend/kids problems, communication problems, literacy problems, bad decisions and choices etc., etc.

I just want to keep you informed on what’s being said and how much your efforts are really appreciated. Let me know if you like this feedback approach. Just address all WTY related queries to

ATTN: Charles F. McCarns III – WTY. Looking forward to hearing you responses

Charles F. McCarns III

Fair Chance Project – Asst. Director

Walking the Yard – Project Coordinator