I thought it might be nice to talk about what Sean does in prison. When most people think of prison, they picture inmates locked in their cell all day whiling away the endless hours doing useless things like carving into the walls. Unless there is a lockdown, most days this is not the case. On a typical day Sean is out of his cell, works at his job, and goes to college classes; he is busy working on all kinds of things.
Sean wakes up around 6:45 every morning to go to his job from 7:30 am to 4 pm as Secretary on the Men’s Advisory Council. The Men’s Advisory Council is the liaison between inmates and staff. His job involves meeting regularly with the Warden, Assistant Warden, Visiting Sergeant, Captain, and other various facility members who work at the prison. Sean takes minutes at these meetings as well as brings to the table solutions for important issues that affect visiting and inmate welfare. This is an important and highly regarded job, and Sean works diligently at it. He want to make Corcoran a better place not only for us but for everyone who lives, visits or works there.
Before the MAC, Sean had a job on the institutional paint crew, worked his way up to the position of Lead Painter and became proficient in the skills and knowledge needed to paint large walls, doors, and trim as well as train and oversee other painters. As he worked on this job he would write me about learning, and the skills he was mastering; he was truly proud of his work. Sean earned a certificate for his on-the-job work training with the Institutional Paint crew. He completed 2,116 hours work experience.
Sean has been taking college classes, so far he has taken Food and Nutrition, Philosophy, Writing and Rhetoric, Introduction to Law Enforcement, Political Science (twice), English Literature, and Spanish. He has gotten an A grade in every class. He is proud of his good grades and sends me copies of his work, especially his writing, some of which has been posted here in the past. While he was in Calipatria Prison he tutored 12 inmates who earned their GEDs, plus countless other inmates who showed great improvement in their educational studies.
Sean also participates in whatever positive programs the prison offers on his yard. He participated in the REACH program; REACH stands for Rehabilitation Education and Creating Hope. The program was designed to bring at-risk young men to prison for a day for some real, unfiltered prison talk to help them realize they need to change their ways, value their life, and take school seriously or they may end up in prison. It’s a new take on the “scared straight” program and one that Sean was very involved in until the program was halted for no apparent reason.
Sean also recently graduated from the Building Resilience course which was a cognitive therapy group exploring past trauma and how to address the affects going forward. The program, created by Dr. S. Covington PhD and Roberto A. Rodriguez MA, addresses thinking, feeling, and acting, feelings of guilt, shame or anger, and healthy relationships.
Right now he is Chairman of the Life and Beyond program, a two hour weekly class for inmates with Life Sentences to work in a group setting on rehabilitation, preparing for parole, self help, and just about everything that might help one who has spent decades in prison get ready for life beyond the bars; hence the name Life and Beyond. Sean is enjoying facilitating class and often shares thing with me that they are working on.
In the little spare time Sean has between homework, his job, and the programs; Sean creates beautiful drawings. He has become an amazing artist over the years and draws using creative techniques that really stand out to anyone who sees them. Sean is proud of his artwork and enjoys finding new references to draw. Two of his art pieces have won awards at the California State Fair.
All of Sean’s chronos (like a letter of recommendation) state that he has a positive attitude, he’s a positive role model, respectful to others, very intelligent, displays an effort to complete tasks and assignments. This does not come as a surprise to either of us. Sean is not your typical prison inmate, in fact he is far from it. He is proud of his hard work but he is naturally inclined to want to learn, grow, and do good things; that’s just who he is. In the 15 years Sean has been wrongfully incarcerated he has never had a 115 (disciplinary issue) he has never broken the rules (including not having any tattoos), or gotten in a fight, and has never been sent to the SHU (segregated housing unit). But this isn’t something he brags about or thinks of as out of the ordinary, it’s just who he is. Sean does not want to live in prison, it is a terrible place to have to be, but he wants to make the most of the time he must remain there. I am proud of my husband for making the most of his time inside and continuing to do things that are worthwhile.