From Pelican Bay to the American River!!


"My name is Keith H.

I was born in Los Angeles County but raised in Long Beach California. Most people would think that I grew up in an ideal situation. I was fortunate enough to live in the same household with both my birth parents but there was a dark side… my parents were alcoholics.

My earliest memories begin when I was 4 years old, I remember when my parents would drink, they would fight until someone was bleeding or hurt severely. If I cried, I would be beaten with an extension cord and told that boys don’t cry, only punks did that. I had no idea what a punk was, I just knew that was something I did not want to be.

At age five, I witnessed my grandfather getting shot and killed by the Los Angeles police department. I blamed the police and myself for his death because he was only at my parents’ house to pick me up. Once he died, I had no way to escape the domestic violence in my home. When I was 6 years old, I was bullied by my older cousin who would torment me every chance he got. If I told my aunt she would call my mother who when I returned home would beat me and say if someone hits you, you better hit them back. If you can’t beat them that way, then you pick something up and hit them over the head with it.

At the age of twelve, I saw my father hit my mother so hard I thought he killed her. In a fit of rage, I jumped up and began to beat my father until he was unconscious. When my mother came to, she begged

me to stop hitting my father. Realizing she wasn’t dead I stopped beating him. A few minutes later my mother told me to get out of her house. Confused, angry, and feeling betrayed by my mother I found myself not trusting women, homeless and on my way to becoming a full-fledged gang member.

When I was 15 years old, I became a teenage father. I sold drugs to provide for my daughter while fighting rival gang members. My life was out of control and eventually found myself in prison serving a 25 to life third strike sentence. During the early years of my incarceration, I was not a model inmate. I received over 28 rules violations; my last one occurring in 2015 during a prison riot. When my wife was allowed to visit me, she was crying and told me that she didn’t know if I was alive or dead. At that moment I realized I needed to change.

Once I was released back to the mainline in 2016, I walked away from the gang lifestyle and began to enroll in college, anger management, GOGI, Mood Management, Defy Ventures and a host of other self-help courses that allowed me to identify my triggers and character defects. In 2018 I went before the Board of Parole Hearings and was denied parole for 7 years. I saw the Board’s denial as my marching orders. I read the Board’s decision and reached out to Life Support Alliance to help me understand what I was missing. Through the LSA correspondence curriculum I literally began to connect the dots of my life. The violence from my early childhood had become normal to me. Looking at the Adverse Childhood Experiences throughout my life, helped me see that being bullied as a child led me to feel afraid, insecure, and angry. My belief was that I had to prove myself and show that I was not a punk.

This resulted in my use of violence to solve my problems. Arriving at this conclusion I began to write the story of my life to gain further insight into the causative factors of my criminal behavior and the roots of my beliefs. Self-understanding increased exponentially. Once done I filed a motion to advance my 2025 suitability hearing in August of 2022 which the Board granted and set my new hearing for April 2022. On April 7, 2022 I was found suitable for parole after serving 28 years in prison. On August 16, 2022 I was released on parole to the Beacon Transitional Housing and found myself immediately surrounded by pro social people who continue to assist me in applying for my Identification card, social security card and other services needed to help me succeed. I want to thank Life Support Alliance for the gift of my freedom. If it wasn’t for their programs, who knows how long it would have taken me to find my way to this newfound freedom. I was once a menace to society, and take full responsibility for the harm I have caused. I am not who I once was and my new mantra is no more victims, no more crimes, no more excuses.

 

Keith is just one story of the many Life Term prisoners who have benefitted from our programs, many of whom are now free. You can partner with our efforts by making a monthly commitment to support the important work that we do every day.

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