Rickey B.

REPRESENT JUSTICE X JR: TEHACHAPI

My name is Rickey Black. I'm from Bakersfield California. I'm a lifer inmate, three-strike inmate. I got two life sentences for a murder that I was involved in Bakersfield. I'm guilty of my crime.

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I’ve been incarcerated for 20 years. I used to be a gang member which I’m no longer a gang member anymore. I’ve changed my life for the better. There’s some positive things happening here in CDC (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) for us. Some good programs and some good opportunities for us to change our lives and one of the things that you guys are doing here today is awesome giving us a platform to speak and, you know we’re human like everybody else and you know, even though we’ve committed some crimes that we’ve been convicted for a lot of us have served our time. And I know for somebody like me, I used to be a gang member and I decided to change my life for the better. I didn’t want to be involved in gangs anymore.

I gotta I got a couple of daughters I’d like to go home to at some point. And there was a long stretch of time during this and – 20 years that I’ve been down that I never thought I was going to get out. And Prop 57- that the bill that Scott Budnick and everybody’s a part of has — and the people of California voted in- changed that for a lot of us and gave us a lot of hope. And I’m somebody who’s going to take full advantage of that to do the best I can with the programs here. And hopefully one day that I’ll receive a release date. Right now, I got two life sentences on the three strikes. And Prop 57, like I said, has changed that for a lot for us and it’s, it’s exciting. It’s exciting.

Because you never think that you’re going to get out and be with your family. Have another opportunity to kind of like a do-over, you know, you can get out and be a father, a grandfather, and be a part of your kid’s life. To have that taken away from you for so long and then get it back. It’s super exciting. So I know it’s something that I enjoy. It’s made me change who I am and how I do my — live my life here in prison. So looking forward to that and I’m hoping it happens. I’m hoping that people will see this and know that a lot of us deserve another chance, a second chance.

And for any of the kids that are watching, I think it’s important that- that they look at our stories and realize that you don’t have to become a gang member to be yourself. And I got – I tattooed STAY TRUE on my knuckles for a reason and that’s to stay true to yourself. No matter what. And I think it’s something that everybody needs to do. Stay true to yourself. You don’t have to get involved in gangs like I did and ruin your life, ruin your family’s life.

I know I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years and hopefully, with this new Prop 57 that we have, hopefully, I’ll get a chance to go home and be with my family. Hopefully, the kids out there today that are involved in gangs can see that prison is not the place to be, you know, there’s a big barrier in here, you know, there’s a lot of fences and walls in here to keep us in, but it does more than that. And it destroys who we are, destroys our families, it destroys our communities. Things like that that you know, the youth out there should understand that this isn’t where it’s at. There’s a better life out there for everybody and I know for me, after being incarcerated for 20 years, I don’t want to be in here and I never thought that I would be. So it’s shocking that I’d find myself in here, after so many years especially 20, it’s been a long time.

A lot of us get lost growing up trying to identify with certain things. So, you know when I when I dropped down on my gang and became myself again, you have to really identify with who you were as a kid. And so that’s why I came up with stay true. Stay true to yourself. And I sign my letters the same way to my daughters. Stay true to oneself. So it’s important.

So that’s about it. That’s all I wanted to share.