REPRESENT JUSTICE X JR: TEHACHAPI PROJECT
My name is Cory Belcher. I'm currently serving a 15 years to life sentence for kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking and I've been incarcerated since I was 22 years old and I'm 30 years old now. My birthday is on Wednesday. So I'll be celebrating my 8th birthday in prison, and it's been a road, you know, but, I'm glad to see the new changes CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) is making, you know, they're focusing on rehabilitation now instead of their old ways of old ways of corrections and they're allowing us to choose our own path in prison now. They're allowing us to say it's either “I'm going to stay here for the rest of my life” or “I'm going to get out.” And it used to be, you guys catch a life sentence -- you stayed here.
Never had an opportunity to get out. Now, you have that opportunity, but it’s all up to you whether you want to choose it or not. And, I see everyone, families, still communicating with everyone and we’re trying to fulfill that stigma of these guys are just bad guys, they don’t want us as neighbors, but like I say, I want you as my neighbor. I want you to trust me. I want you to believe that I will succeed when I get out. That’s my whole goal now. Everything I do here in prison. I’m a chairman of Celebrate Recovery. I work in the library, I’m the library’s clerk, I’m the college clerk.
I take advantage of every opportunity that Tehachapi State Prison has to offer to me. So I’m making my own path now. And I will get out and when I come home everyone’s going to be happy, you know.
I’ve been helping myself. Just that college degree that I’m going to obtain means a lot to me. I’m gonna get I’m receive my AA in Social Behavioral Science and criminal justice and I’m forty four units in, got 16 more to go — means a lot to me. My mom just graduated and I’ll be the second person in our family to get a college education.
So it means a lot. And it takes .. We’re focusing on… What I’m focusing on now is trying to change myself and have a big impact in this prison right here. I’m trying to encourage all individuals right here to change. It’s pretty much and that’s what I’m seeing with these groups right here in this, this organization ARC (Anti Recidivism Coalition), JR coming in, taking pictures of us and, you guys are pretty much telling us: We’re here to show you that we care about you guys. Because we used to just hear about it. In other prisons, “oh that prisons doing this and this prison…”, but now you guys are here with us. So we’re seeing it with our own eyes now that people do care about us and not only do you guys care about is — I care about myself.
I’m focusing on trying to have you trust me as a neighbor trying to have you believe that I’ll never commit a crime again in my life. So that’s my focus right now to change your perception on me and make me do everything I need to do to get home because there’s people that miss me at home right now.
And it’s funny cause I just had a visit yesterday and my mom came and saw me and I started I started choking up right away, you know, because she told me that my daughter, I’ve been gone eight years. And there’s nothing I can do to try to get home faster, I feel, even though I’m doing everything I can. There’s a… I feel like it’s still — my daughter needs me right now and this is something big for me right here. This is um. I want her to see this. I want her to click on my picture and see me. Because I’ve been gone her whole life. She’s eight years old and she needs a hug right now. My daughter needs a hug right now and I can’t be there right now for her, but she knows that I love her and I’ll come home soon.
So that’s why I’m saying. The impact is strong on all of us here because you guys are showing us that you guys care about us. Just this little thing right here means a lot and we appreciate it. You know, we think people forget about us in here. You guys are showing us “no, no one’s forgetting about you. Go ahead, tell your story, speak to us from inside these walls”, which we’re doing now. And… It’s so it’s… it’s a good pleasure. You know, it’s kind of off topic on what I wanted to talk about, but you know. But I appreciate it. The choice is up to me now, you know to whether I want to stay in prison the rest of my life or take advantage of every opportunity you guys offer in I’m going to take advantage of every single thing that’s here.
And you know, it makes it feel good makes me feel good you guys are here it’s cool. Appreciate it, you know. so. That went to shit… I was here to talk about rehabilitation and organizations. Appreciate it.
I got all choked up, you know cause it’s fresh. Everything’s fresh still, you know, and… Eight years still fresh because it’s not the time that’s passing. Right? I don’t know because we’re behind these walls. Eight years just feels like a couple couple months ago right when I first came into prison, but what reminds me every single day is those pictures. From the day my daughter was born to now I’m not there. I’m not there and… That’s the only thing that reminds me is that I’m not there is she’s 8 years old now.
So, it’s kind of a, kind of reminds me, you know, kind of reminds me every single day that time just keeps going out there. It seems like it stopped in here for me, but every time I get the brand-new set of pictures, it says “no”. It says “No she’s growing up”. You know what I mean? So… But I love her she knows I love her. I’ll be home soon, sweetie. Be home soon.