Meet Lawrence. Lawrence spent 7 years in a maximum security prison before being transferred to San Quentin. He describes how the opposing environments affected his attitude and relationships, particularly with the one person he loves most, his mother. Could rehabilitative programming be the key to transformation? #FirstWatch


In a maximum security level 4 prison, it was very serious. You could feel the tension - there wasn’t any love, there wasn’t any affection. The only emotion that you got was anger and rage, that type of stuff. Even when you have them a handshake it wasn’t like a regular old just you know real cool handshake playful it was real serious. It was tough. It was hard. You see these dude on the yard, they stand there, they got their shoulders cocked back, they’re mean mugging the whole get down, just really just mobbing, and it's crazy because that really feeds to the whole atmosphere. Honestly, I didn’t really know how much that affected me, right, because I’m not that guy. I’m somebody who is loving, I love to show affection to those I care about. When it was time to show affection with my mom that I couldn’t do it. My mom had come to visit me in this maximum security prison for the first time since I had been incarcerated. And by this time I hadn’t seen her in about 3 years, and so when I hug her, my body is really, I’m hugging her but its like a church hug where my body is not touching her body, and it's just all arms. My mom certainly got on me and was like “What are you doing, if you don’t hug me.” The most terrifying thing about the whole ordeal was if I can’t show affection to everybody I love than who am I as a person. I certainly feel like because there weren’t any groups or programs at this facility, that it certainly contributed to me not being able to be affection. So after 7 years of being incarcerated I finally work my points down and I am able to come to San Quentin where it is completely different. The first programs I got into this guy was holding another guy like a baby. And that for me was just like “What? This is crazy.” The men were comfortable with who they are, with who they really were. They didn’t have to put on no front. They didn’t have to act like they were harder than can be, or none of that. So I’m in San Quentin, and mom comes to visit me while I’m here and there is no more nervousness, she gets there and I hug her man and really just hold on to her man I picked her up man, off her feet, swung her a little bit, just a little bit. You know, and it was beautiful man, it was really beautiful man.


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