Before he paroled from San Quentin in 2010, Leonard Rubio started the Restorative Justice (RJ) Interfaith Roundtable. On Feb. 9, he returned to speak at a symposium about the harm a burglary caused his wife.
“My wife isn’t supposed to feel unsafe at home,” Rubio said to the crowd of 150 outside and inside community members . “I needed to express that scares me. And even in a nice town, when the dogs start barking, I still check. I still put the alarm on. It doesn’t give me a sense of security.”
“They don’t realize the emotional harm,” said RJ Facilitator Darnell “Moe” Washington. “Part of taking accountability is having insight to see all of the people impacted by your actions. Some of the most violence is emotional violence and we have to take accountability for that.”
The impact of the burglary committed against the Rubios became apparent as Aouie Rubio fought back tears as she talked about the day someone stole her sense of security.
“I felt violated,” A. Rubio said. “I couldn’t sleep. I was so nervous to be home by myself that I put the alarm on even during the daytime.”
When the violation happened, the Rubios lived in Richmond, California where their home was under constant attack – car break-ins, stolen packages. They fought them off with alarms and a Ring doorbell system, which had added a microphone, camera, and motion sensor to the front door. Yet in 2016, a female broke four doors be- fore finally getting into the home through the back.
A. Rubio watched her through her Ring system on her cellphone but the po- lice didn’t arrive in time to catch the person. They made off with $2,500 in electrical equipment L. Rubio struggled to purchase for work.
“She probably sold them for $500, no big deal to her,” L. Rubio said.
Now L. Rubio works as the Executive Director of Inside Prison Project and lives in a much nicer neighborhood but still is affected by the burglary.
“I had to pay to have things repaired, replaced, time off from work and deal with my issues with fear of the potential that something could happen again. It’s gut wrenching,” A. Rubio said. “How do I practice RJ when I felt so violated?”
After the Rubios presentation, several incarcerated men stood up to apologize.
“We’re supposed to make a list of those we have harmed,” Charles Trumare said. “In doing my step work I told my sponsor, I couldn’t apologize to who I harmed. I was a burglar. I never saw their faces but RJ has shown me the harmed I caused. I want to apologize to you and do me a favor, give your wife a hug for me.”
For A. Rubio, the event was her first time publicly talking about the burglary and she said it grounded her.
After the Rubios, host George “White Eagle” Coates, introduced the next guess speaker, Kevin Mc-Cracken, who said he has been sober for 20 years and is now the CEO of Social Imprints. He hires returning citizens as a way of making amends for his years as an addict when he thought shoplifting was no big deal.
He talked about the impact of his brother’s drug addiction and theft.
“He (McCracken’s brother) stole from me, family, clients, he’s lying,” McCracken said. “He is my best friend and he can’t stop using and he can’t stop lying. How do I forgive this? What do I do? He’s just not ready, but I have been able to forgive myself for all the people that I harmed.”
Two incarcerated men closed out the symposium with short talks about victim-offender dialogues they had with survivors of the violent crimes they committed.
Jason Samuel shot police officer Tom Morgan back in 1997. The officer came to his parole board hearing to get Samuel denied parole but during the hearing, he heard about all the changes Samuel made and self-help groups he completed. At the next parole board hearing, the officer supported his parole release. Since then, the two have met and embraced each other.
“Tom and … granted me a once in a lifetime opportunity to practice restorative justice,” Samuel said. “When I met with Mrs. Morgan, I thought she wanted to slap me. To my surprise, she gave me a hug. I thank her for seeing me. It was a special moment to share restorative justice with Tom and Christy Morgan.”
Next, Texan Alan Mabrey talked about meeting the mother of a 24-year-old girl he killed while driving drunk.
“It was the scariest moment of my life; I started balling like a baby when I saw her,” Mabrey said as he fought back tears. “The main thing that broke the ice was her. She hugged me. Thank God for forgiveness.”
-Alan King contributed to this story