Rehabilitation through Writing: Prisoner Writers Find Redemption 

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

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By D. Razor Babb

Jay Figueroa came to prison on a 90-day observation after being arrested for car theft at 19. At his sentencing the judge chided him for his impulsiveness and gall for stealing the sheriff’s car right from in front of his house.

Jay was embraced by older members of the prison’s Latin community, and he soon found himself in a fight that left a man dead. A life sentence & involvement in a prison gang followed. The 90-day op progressed into Jay’s rise through the ranks of the gang and several added life terms due to gang warfare.

After 47 years incarcerated, 13 board hearings, and an attempt on his life, Jay walked out of prison in 2018. He carried with him a copy of his memoir, Last General Standing, which details his life and conversion to a rehabilitated man.

Another prisoner writer, Ronnie Sheldon, finished writing his Tears of Blood, Salvation last year, just before being found suitable for parole. He served over 30 years of a 100 to life sentence. On day 149 of the 150-day waiting period, he was notified that his parole has been rescinded.

Ronnie writes about his criminal past, “I was in a bad tailspin and my life was in crisis. I’d been in & out of jail my whole life. I needed to change and find a path that had the power to transform me down to my deepest core. There had to be a way to escape the black hole of pain.”

Ronnie speaks of his salvation and his unshakable belief in God’s power to forgive in Tears of Blood, Salvation. It’s this power that sustains him as he prepares for another board hearing in June.

These prisoner writers found their road to redemption through their writing, and serve as examples of what rehabilitation through writing truly means.

Last General Standing and Tears of Blood, Salvation are available on (proceeds serve victims’ rights orgs.)

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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