Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs and his wife, Anna, came to San Quentin to join a class aimed at helping prisoners gain self-respect and overcome childhood trauma.
Anna Tubbs said they came to the prison because they’re “both social justice concerned. It’s important to meet people directly impacted by policy choices—to be seen personally—to understand the needs of the people.”
The incarcerated men par- take in a program led by Susan Olesek. It is called The Enneagram Prison Project (EPP): Freeing the Incarcerated from the Prisons of Our Own Making. The program takes participants on a 20- week journey aimed at get- ting a better sense of self. rd, Prior to class on June 3 Micheal Tubbs sat down for an interview. He compared the city of Stockton and its “significant amount of re- sources” with coming inside a prison to see programs such as EPP, computer coding, and college programs. His reaction: “Why did I have to come inside a prison to see this? Why don’t we have these programs on the outside?”
Once the class started, Raiveon “Ray Ray” Wooden read a poem, “Temptation Within Myself.”
He then told a story about childhood abuse and how it traumatized him. Trauma turned to shame, he said, which turned to doubt that warped his thinking about himself.
Wooden said coming to prison gave him the chance to rethink his life from “being one of distant loneliness to finding support and love.”
“It’s hard to share these things and not worry about my pride,” Wooden said as he cited a stanza from his poem: “How to love yourself— how to find yourself”
“I came to prison to be safe,” Wooden said.
Olesek told the class that Wooden’s story is “one of a hero’s journey, on how to reclaim his life; to say it out loud to people makes them look at you in a good way.”
She commented on how adults don’t recognize painful lives in their children. Looking at Wooden she added, “Where did he get the idea that he had no worth? Who wasn’t there?”
Olesek turned to the class and said, “Don’t put yourself down by only focusing on what you did to get in prison without putting your life in the context of the circumstances.”
She told the class that “trauma is when you keep re- living the past.”
Then, she asked how many participants suffered from a childhood trauma. All hands went up, including Michael and Anna.
“How do we organize our society so that we value families?” Michael asked. His concern is to provide a safe and healthy environment for growing families.
“How can you protect your child?” Anna asked. “ You can’t control everything, but you can be there 100 percent as a parent who decides to bring a child into the world.”
Anna talked about working with students who felt like they couldn’t tell their own stories.
“But when these kids do get the opportunity to share their stories, they find out that they are not alone and share similar experiences—the sharing gives them the chance to connect,” Anna said.
Some people are locked up emotionally, the mayor implied. “You don’t have to be in San Quentin to be in prison,” he said.