Inside CDCR Video

Woman puts second chance to great use

Written and produced by Joe Orlando
Video by Dave Novick
Office of Public and Employee Communications

Pamela Thompson came to prison in 1995 with a life term as a third-striker. She never thought she would get out, but because of the numerous rehabilitative programs she was involved in and her exceptional behavior while in prison, she was recommended for resentencing by CDCR and was released by the court in October 2018. Inside CDCR recently caught up with Thompson to share her story.

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Transcript

Pamela Thompson

A lot people know that there is a possibility that they could get out, so a lot of people are cleaning up their acts right now.

What they put into the universe is what they’re going to get back, so if they start making that transformation now and work on getting out, then they can be just how I am, you know, transitioning well out here and just, you know, making a good life for myself.

Co-worker

That was what you missed was to turn the sound button on.

Thompson

Oh (Laughter)

Narrator

Pamela Thompson left prison last October. She was resentenced and released through the 1170(d) process that is giving incarcerated persons in California prisons renewed hope.

Thompson

That’s a whole lot to be reading!

Co-worker

Get that arrow down.

Narrator

She got a job with Francisco Homes in Los Angeles as  Community Health Worker.

Holly Ensley

So as I went through her file, it was my task to document everything that she had accomplished, and her file was so thick and she had so many programs she had done, so many beneficial things, work supervisor reports were excellent, every job she had people said she showed up to work, she did an exemplary job.

Velda Dobson-Davis

There’s one lady among us that had never been in any trouble before, ever.

Narrator

Velda Dobson-Davis was Chief Deputy Warden at Central California Women’s Facility while Thompson was serving time there, and wrote a letter supporting her release.

Classmate

But I was so in my denial and I was so in my addiction that I didn’t care.

Narrator

She currently runs a program called Beyond Violence. This groups is called Felons Against Distracted and Drunk Driving.

Thompson

And she always used to tell me, ‘You have a lot of potential in you,’ you know what I’m saying. She pushed me to be the person that I am today.

So when I read the letter, I was like, wow, she wrote an awesome letter on my behalf, you know.

Dobson-Davis

Pamela was magical in a room, particularly with hardened persons, persons that didn’t want to be there, they didn’t feel they needed to change, and they would turn their heads and didn’t want to listen, and they would say things and she would make them speak truths.

She did the heavy lifting. All I could do was write the prescription, I couldn’t make her do the work because I’m not here 24 hours a day.

But it wasn’t that she was faking it, she really bought into the process.

She really took the tool and she really worked the system to learn all she could to become a better person.

Ensley

I cannot tell you how it makes me feel. It makes me feel wonderful, it does.

It’s a great feeling to contribute to somebody who is going to contribute to society.