Carlos C.

REPRESENT JUSTICE X JR: TEHACHAPI

So my name is Carlos Cervantes. I was one of the fellows that was in Tehachapi State Prison. As a matter of fact, that was the first prison that I ever went to at 17. I remember really like it was yesterday. My dad and my little brother went to go visit me for the first time shackled, behind glass, it was like a surreal situation where your family is coming to visit you to prison, like how did we get to that point?

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And so that was also the first time I’ve actually seen my stepdad cry. So that kind of made me realize that, you know, not only was I in some deep stuff, but that now you know I’m spending time in prison and I’m bringing my folks with me, I’m bringing my family with me.

I did 11 years. And after being out, I’ve decided I’m never going to go back unless it’s for something that’s very very good, like going to talk to youth or going to do projects in prison and then getting out that same day to send that real message of hope to somebody. That after life in prison, your life is not over. As a matter of fact, it has just begun.

Like right now we have a great opportunity to change the narrative of who we are. Change the way they treat us because as many people know being in prison is really inhumane. Being in prison, really, you’re sacrificing a whole life that you could have done something way different like change, change the world, for instance.

So, now I encourage young people to step up, to show their real voice, that if there’s something going on in their communities, they have the power to change it. I always say this story about my daughter, Clarrisa, she’s 11 years old. And for a while, I’ve been able to change some of the things that happened in our communities, but because of my past, there are some things I’m not going to be able to change. So I’m teaching my kid, I’m guiding my kid, so she can change things that I can’t change. And that’ll be the message to our world, that our children will have the power to change the things that we can’t change.