The inaugural class of a new self-help program in San Quentin celebrated how it changed the way the students think, so they could change the way they live.
“You made a conscious choice to change”
Breaking Barriers shows participants the connection between distorted beliefs, negative behavior and incarceration.
“You made a conscious choice to change,” said Nathan Rapp, a representative from the office of state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley. “The decisions you make in the moment will help shape things going on into the future.”
Chrisfino Kenyatta Leal, a peer educator, provided participants with a curriculum that focused on self-examination as a means to change the behavioral patterns that led them to prison.
Also supporting the program were peer educators Alfonso Carranza and Ed Smith, plus free staff intervention specialists Naomi Prochovnick and Abayomi Bramem.
“You’ve invested in yourself and you said you can do this,” said Carol Burton, executive director of Centerforce, which sponsors the program. “However, your responsibility goes beyond today. I’m looking forward to seeing you change the world.”
The event concluded with some of the graduates giving testimonies to the effectiveness of the program in their lives. Lorenzo Robinson told the class that his main problem was reacting too quickly to other people’s actions. He said Breaking Barriers taught him, “No one has control over you, unless you give it to them.”
“I felt like a broken down car, and you guys gave me the tools to fix myself,” said Pete Thao. “Now, I know that I have to perform regular maintenance on myself to stay on the right track.”
Graduates received a certificate that will be documented in their prison record and a bracelet reading “I’m Breaking Barriers.”