After receiving a commutation of his sentence from Gov. Jerry Brown, Antoine Brown became the latest Kid CAT member to be found suitable for parole.
“During his 22 years of incarceration, Mr. Brown has demonstrated a clear commitment to his rehabilitation,” Governor Brown stated in his Dec. 23, 2017, commutation of Antoine Brown.
“Mr. Brown committed a senseless crime, but he has shown a clear rejection of violence and gang activity for many years. In light of his age at the time of his crime, his positive conduct in prison, and his determination to continue giving back to society if released, Mr. Brown deserves an earlier opportunity to make his case to the Board of Parole Hearings so they can determine whether he is ready to be released from prison,” the governor added.
On April 20, Brown was found suitable for parole.
“I committed a crime that took the life of an innocent man and attempted to kill two other people it is only by the grace of Allah, Governor Brown, and the Board of Parole Hearings that I am given another opportunity,” says Brown, 40, who was serving 36 years-to-life for first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate my change and for them to believe in me,” he adds.
Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles by his single mother and stepfather, Brown is the second of four kids.
“Growing up, my household was peaceful. We went camping, fishing, and I had a great relationship with my stepfather,” Brown says.
The happy dynamic of the family changed when Brown’s parents were on the verge of splitting when he was 14.
“The love and attention I had was gone, and I thought it was my fault that they were going to split,” he says.
To cope, Brown turned to the streets.
“I went outside the house to find that love and belonging by joining a gang,” Brown says, during an interview.
“Soon I started ditching school, carrying a gun and getting into fights.”
At 15, Brown dropped out of school.
“I started hanging out in the neighborhood, selling drugs, gang banging and going to parties. That’s all I did,” Brown says.
A day after learning his girlfriend was pregnant, Brown was informed that a fellow gang member had been shot at, and he took it upon himself to retaliate.
“When I heard my friend had been shot at, I didn’t even think about my unborn son. I was only thinking about building my reputation and proving my loyalty to my gang,” Brown says.
Twenty minutes after committing murder in a retaliation, Brown was arrested.
“During the whole time in jail, my mind was on getting out. I didn’t even think about the consequences of my actions or the victims’ feelings,” he says.
Brown’s son was born while he was in Juvenile Hall in 1996.
After a year and a half, Brown was convicted of first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
“When I got convicted, I felt devastated knowing that there was a possibility that I will never go home to be with my son, who I’ve never held,” Brown says.
The fear of prison daunted Brown. “When I first came to prison, I had a lot of misconceptions and was willing to do anything to survive. However, it wasn’t like what I saw on TV. I was very fortunate to have older guys to guide me in the right direction.”
Brown received his GED in 2000.
He attributes his total transformation to his time in San Quentin. “The programs they had here, like VOEG and No More Tears, helped me gain the insight necessary for me to understand the impact I’ve had on my victims because of my actions.”
While in San Quentin, Brown became the co-founder of Kid CAT .
“We wanted to create a program that would shed light on youth offender issues,” Brown says. “To see how it has now given back to the homeless and to help at-risk youth has been amazing to see.”
Brown has many accomplishments, but they didn’t come without any speed bumps.
“In 2013, I received a disciplinary write-up for a cellphone,” Brown says. “I felt really ashamed and a hypocrite for letting so many people down who believed in me. I knew if I was ever to get out of prison and set an example for my son, I needed to change my behavior.”
“Two years ago, my son was arrested, and it served as another wake up call because he reminded me of myself.”
In 21 years, Brown has only met his son six times in person.
“The relationship I have with my son today is great, thanks to the mother of my son,” he says.
“My only hope now is to be a father to my son and be there to support him and ensure that he feels loved.”
Upon parole, Brown wants to work with at-risk youths in juvenile halls. Brown paroled on Sept. 2018.