After three parole grants, Tare Beltranchuc, better known to friends as Cancún, finally signed his release papers in April after 12 commissioners affirmed his parole suitability at an “En Banc” hearing.
“When I signed my parole papers I also signed a pledge in my heart to continue honoring the life of my victim,” said Beltranchuc.
Beltranchuc was serving a sentence of 16 years to life. In 2019, he had his first parole hearing. After five hours of questioning, the commissioners found him suitable for parole. However, Gov. Gavin Newsom took the date from him.
Beltranchuc said, “It broke my heart to see firsthand the harm I caused, that’s why when the governor opposed my release, I just took his advice and continued working on myself.”
In 2021, Beltranchuc had his second hearing, and in spite of many opposition letters, the board found him suitable for parole again, but the governor opposed his release once again.
According to Beltranchuc, he wasn’t angry at the governor. Rather, he was angry at himself. “Had I not done what I did, I wouldn’t be in this predicament. Besides, part of being accountable is embracing the consequences of my actions and the governor’s reversal is one of [the consequences].”
At times he felt like a political prisoner and it crossed his mind that he would never get out. But that didn’t discourage him from working on himself.
He said, “There was no turning back for me. I told myself, if I am going to die in prison, I am going to die making amends. If I’ll never get out, I might as well help others get out. My motto is to finish the race of life with kindness, dignity, and serving others.”
In November 2022, Beltranchuc had his third board hearing, and the panel once again found that he no longer posed a risk to public safety and was ready to reenter society.
“It has always been bittersweet to be found suitable because my family’s happiness comes at the expense of my victim’s pain,” he said. “Plus, there was no guarantee that the governor wouldn’t reverse my suitability again.”
While he waited for the governor’s decision, he participated in a spiritual retreat (KAIROS) as a server. Leaders there asked him to write the name of a person he might have resentment toward.
“I did a quick prayer,” he said. “I said God, I don’t think I have resentments toward anyone anymore. Yet for the sake of this activity give me a name. The first name that came to my mind was Governor Newsom.”
Two days later, while in the Lower Yard, he was surprised to see the governor and his staff passing through.
“I was shocked to see him, but I knew it was God who wanted me to talk to him. So I approached him, introduced myself, and said this is my third time suitable for parole and I hope the third is a charm. The governor smiled and said ‘I hope so.’”
As it turned out, the third time was the charm, but not a matter of luck in Beltranchuc’s eyes.
“It was a miracle. It was all God. I knew he heard my prayer. If it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t have had the legal team of Uncommon Law fight for me. If it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t have had the GRIP family and many supporters who have been with me all these years. I couldn’t have done this by myself. My heart overflows with gratitude to each one who contributed to my transformation, especially my family.”
Beltranchuc is committed to living amends. “I will never forget the harm I inflicted on my victim’s family and I will always use my voice and knowledge to help eradicate violence in my community.”
In almost 13 years at San Quentin, Beltranchuc has left his imprint almost everywhere. He helped install the flooring in the chapel. He was part of the crew that built the Lower Yard shack. He helped remodel the vocational center and the media center, where he also wrote and edited articles for the San Quentin News.
He organized and led the soccer team and served as a facilitator in rehabilitative groups. If you needed help, he would never say no to you.
“When I met Taré Beltranchuc, he was a very quiet human being, and he recommended me to participate in the GRIP program. When I joined the program I discovered that he was one of the facilitators,” said inmate Daniel Garcia. “He was very significant for my own rehabilitation and always ready to help not only in GRIP, but in anything else when you needed help.”
Beltranchuc is gone from San Quentin, but his legacy and imprint remain.