Meet Lumumba. Lumumba spent 37 years in a violent maximum security prison before being transferred to San Quentin. He describes the transition as a “culture shock” sparked by educational opportunities and hope through programming. He credits these programs to saving his life. #FirstWatch


The first prison I went to was DVI in Tracy, California. That was back in 1977. It was pretty horrific, a lot of violence during that era. A lot of racial “melees” and riots during that year. It was called gladiator school. You would have to come out your cells with a belt with hard covered books wrapped around your stomach tied down with the belt. That would just mean that hopefully that knife wouldn’t penetrate. I seen a man get stabbed so hard he got lifted up in the air and flew back on the table behind him. This almost like I can’t get that out of my mind.On a level 4 maximum security prison, very few and hardly no education existed. It took me at least 37 years to finally be released from a level 4 prison to a level 2 San Quentin. When I got here it was a culture shock. It was definitely surprising to me. It reminded me of San Francisco State College. I used to run track over there through a lot of my high school era. And when I walked around here I seen a lot of individual inmates, convicts, whatever you choose to call them backpacks on their backs, books in their hands. I found myself signing up to get involved in GRIP you know it's an anger management program. GRIP basically means guiding rage into power. Basically shows you how to analyze your sensations, if you are confronted with an altercation you can feel your heart beating, your palms sweating, your shoulders tense, your muscles tensed up, and I never really analyzed that about myself until I got into GRIP. That’s just a signal telling your emotions, wait a minute, slow down, think about this because those sensations can erupt your emotions to a violent altercation if you don’t think. I felt that I was transitioning into a new man. By that I mean I did not find that criminal element that existed in me no more. I can honestly say that these programs have been my mother and my father and my grandparents. They have been a guidances bring me into the new man that I must be. So, in reality, these programs honestly saved my life.

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