Lifer violates parole, shares the hard lessons he learned with others
Not everyone who gets parole makes a success of their life. Some men like Brad Ware need to keep working at solving the problems that surround them.
Ware was imprisoned for 29 years after he paroled from San Quentin State Prison on July 25, 2018. He enjoyed freedom with his family members, friends and sponsors for two years, but then his support network collapsed.
He returned to San Quentin on Sept. 23 for a parole violation.
Ware was sentenced to 18 years to life. He was found suitable for parole on his second time appearing before the board.
After settling down in a drug- and alcohol-free transitional home, Ware spent his first days adjusting to freedom. He lived with a roommate before moving in with his sister. There, he visited shopping centers and parks. He rode the BART system to get around the community. Using a cell phone was a challenge.
Ware says even though he had the tools to make it in the outside community and to be a productive member of society, conditions changed so drastically that his plans for success were affected.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Ware says he suffered the impact before adjusting to it.
“Most employers, including my boss, went in isolation and I didn’t have a job anymore, because everything was shut down,” said Ware.
Ware’s support network included his sister, brother, and spiritual adviser, a man named Brown.
He spent 10 months with Brown visiting county jails and talked about his prison experience to the detainees. He also went to hospitals to tell his story.
Ware stopped going on speaking engagements after Brown moved to Texas to take care of family members. At the same time, Ware moved out of his sister’s house.
“When my support network disappeared, my world collapsed and I didn’t have anybody to turn to,” Ware said. Several days later, he suffered a relapse and was arrested for possession of drugs.
“To me, the hardest part of being incarcerated is having freedom and to end up coming back to the same institution I was paroled from,” said Ware. “Unfortunately, I broke my parole and landed here. I don’t know what I was thinking. I got busted with 3.5 ounces of crack.”
Since Ware is a former lifer, he must go in front of the parole board again to gain his freedom.
“It is important to know that old places or hangouts can be just as dangerous as old friends that continue to use,” said Ware.
Now Ware says he wants to get in a drug program and find out where he went wrong so he can avoid repeating it.
“I am working very seriously on getting into programs like ISUDT (Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment), Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and any other program recommended to me that I haven’t already taken,” Ware said.
Ware says he is sharing his story so that his mistakes won’t become someone else’s future.
“So the imprisoned youngsters who read it, pay attention to the decisions they make now or whenever they receive the opportunity for parole,” Ware said. “Now I realize that actually getting caught was in my benefit. When my sister reported me she was doing what she knew was good for me; however, at the time I felt that she did it to hurt me.”
Another person in Brad’s life is his sister-in-law. She continues to encourage him to stay sober and to continue to do the work he did when Brown invited him to hospitals and detention institutions.
“I need to continue working on my rehabilitation and build a new Relapse Prevention Plan,” Ware said. “I strongly believe I can achieve it through the ISUDT program.”