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In 2011, a 20-year prison sentence turned my life completely upside down.
This was not my first time being incarcerated, but it was the longest sentence I had ever received. This new reality was hard to accept. Twenty years was enough time to lose the people I cared about and damage the relationships I hoped to maintain.
My biggest fear centered around my relationship with my three sons. I worried we would grow distant or that, as I was on my way out of prison, one or more of them could be on their way in. I had to stop generational incarceration, but before I could do that I had to get myself out of prison. I had no clue how to do either.
I was seven years into my sentence and had just submitted my final appeal to the federal courts when I got the opportunity to enroll in an associate’s degree program in human services and social work at Folsom Lake College.
In 2017, we got an assignment in one of my classes: If we could create a program that helped our prison community, what would it be?
The answer was easy for me. I would create a program that would teach incarcerated fathers how to be the best parents possible. For the assignment, I wrote an implementation plan and presented it to my class.
All the while I held on to the idea of my program for incarcerated fathers. In 2018, I was selected as one of the first interns in the Human Services and Social Worker internship program. It would be my responsibility to create a program to help my peers within the prison. This was perfect. I knew what was needed because it was something I could never find myself. With the support of my internship teacher, Dr. Jones, I started creating an initiative that would come to be called Discovering Fatherhood.