When I entered EJP I was coming from a dark place. I was searching for the power within knowledge to harness it for destructive purposes. I was angry at the institutions that cause harm to my community and I was searching for retribution. I could not fathom that I was the greatest cancer to my community let alone to my own self. Only through metacognition was I able to recognize this great hypocrisy. I was led towards the EJP program by a thirst for knowledge. I emerged with self-discovery.
What made the program interesting to me was the way we were allowed to exercise our agency. We were not limited by any barriers other than the ones we posed for ourselves. We were able to actually do something with the knowledge we were acquiring. It was not something that you discarded after you completed your assignment. You actually were encouraged to do something with your newly acquired knowledge. I never felt more relevant and alive. I was now in tune with the principles I had rooted my life in. I was allowed to be Pablo. I was home.
I was released on October 2, 2020. I am currently living with my sister and her family. It has been a struggle but we are making things work. I am in the midst of signing up to continue my education. I haven’t nailed down what I want to do for myself. I do know that I have the potential to do anything I set my mind to. I did not possess this self-assurance pre-EJP. This has translated into a part-time job with Parole Illinois. This new employment is allowing me to fight for parole for those who are serving de facto life sentences. I have also concentrated my efforts to make education more accessible to those incarcerated by working with the Freedom to Learn Campaign. And I am awaiting word on grant approval to commence a partnership with Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project on an art project that will raise awareness of the plight of the incarcerated and the challenges their loved ones suffer.
I am involved with several advisory committees for EJP. Thanks to these committees I have been able to assist in keeping the Language Partners program going. I was heartbroken to not be able to participate in the program. The LP advisory committee has presented me the opportunity to do so. I was involved in the Reentry Guide needs assessment, where we researched ways to assist in the reentry process. I am part of the Library committee which was in charge of acquiring new books for the EJP community library. I am involved in a writing workshop committee that is looking to expand upon the genre of resume and cover letter writing for individuals who were formerly incarcerated. I am also a member of the Mindfulness Discussion Group which is currently devising the content of its section in the EJP Reentry guide. I have also participated in the deliberative process of the EJP scholarship committee.