TONY

How old were you during your offense?

20 years old

What was your sentence/charge? 

I was charged with and convicted of 6 attempted murders. My sentence was 115 to life, which was later reduced to 21 to life.

How long did you serve?

18 years

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What has been the most meaningful experience/life lesson you have learned up to this point that you would pass on to others who are about to experience reentry?

There are going to be a ton of things that happen that you aren’t prepared for. Take it a day at a time and be patient with yourself – don’t compare yourself to others.

What has been the most shocking thing you've experienced so far in reentry?

The amount of homelessness and poverty – it seems more out of control than when I first went in. Same with mental illness. I hadn’t given it a lot of thought before, but now that I’m out it’s very clear and present. There’s also a lot of division between people, especially with politics – no one is really working through issues and communicating.

What has been your favorite experience in reentry?

Being with my wife and new baby!

When were you released?

Feb 5th, 2020

What was the county of your offense and what was the county of your release?

I was convicted in LA county and released in Riverside county

What have you been doing since your release? 

My wife and I had our first kid, AJ (Anthony Josiah) in March! I have to keep reminding myself to savor all these moments and really enjoy them while they are here.

I started an internship in February as a peer support counselor at a recovery center. I’m working to become a fully certified, full time counselor.

I’ve also been doing volunteer work with Operation New Hope, working with at risk youth. I usually help put on events, and I interact with youth as a mentor.

I’ve also been building up my connections with my family. Unfortunately I couldn’t spend Christmas with them because of COVID, but I’m keeping a positive outlook and trying to find silver linings.

Knowing what you know today, what advice would you give to someone?

Really cherish relationships – we tend to get busy and forget how much people matter in our lives. I call people and try to keep strong connections. Keep moving forward and spread your wings.

What are you planning to do post-pandemic?

I want to go on a western US road trip and see Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Utah