Community Involvement, COVID-19

Incarcerated men give back to community

Woman unloads bags of food from the back of a pickup truck.
Maria Barajas, Marketing Specialist with Antelope Valley Hospital, helps unload food to be served to nurses.

Nurses treated to lunch thanks to CSP-Los Angeles County inmates

By Lt. Karla Graves

On May 4, a group of 10 incarcerated men, housed on the Progressive Programming Facility (PPF) at the California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC), came together to discuss how they can be of service to the community. They are part of the Leadership Legacy Council.

“The reality is that most California prisoners do not have an opportunity to be housed at a facility like the PPF, where our population fosters the development of giving back to society through charitable donations, to make amends to our communities for the transgressions we have caused. We do this because of the insight and personal transformation we have all worked so hard to develop,” said Carlton Williams, one of the men in PPF. “Today, we have come together to try to make a difference because the world has changed. This pandemic affects us all, and no one is exempt. In addition, we find ourselves in a life and death situation where everyone, even prisoners, must stand up to make a difference. So, today I am asking you to do what we have become accustomed to doing — reaching out to lend a helping hand.”

Each man began to brainstorm on how they all could affect society in a positive way. They talked about how they were all shocked at the sight of long lines of people at food banks, some waiting up to 10 hours. As a result, the men decided to ask all the prisoners housed on the Progressive Programming Facility to make donations to help Grace Resources, a Lancaster food bank.

Another suggestion was made to send hand written notes on cards to show gratitude, respect, and appreciation to the nurses in the hospital. Lastly, the men wanted to do something particularly special for the nurses.

The group also raised $2,400 to buy lunch for nurses at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster and Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles.

LAC staff matched the donation.

Meet the men behind the charitable effort

Carlton Williams is a member of Convicts Reaching Out to People program (CROP), in which he mentors at-risk youth. Williams has earned three Associate of Art degrees and is continuing with his education.

Jimmie L. Gilmer Jr. has earned three Associate of Art degrees and is enrolled in the California State University, Los Angeles, Bachelor Degree program, he also created the College book-sharing program for indigent inmates, so that they can acquire books to achieve their AA degrees from Coastline Community College.

Kenneth Ray Smith is the Chairman of the Inmate Advisory Council, a member of Paws for Life dog program, and an at-risk-youth mentor for CROP.

Richard Whitehurst is pursuing an Associate of Art degrees from Antelope Valley College. He co-founded Honoring Our Parents Essences (HOPE), a support group for inmates affected by grief and loss.

Louis Crosby is an inside coordinator and facilitator for the Alternative to Violence Program , a student and principal facilitator for the face-to-face Antelope Valley College Program. He also earned a degree in business.

Marvin Edward Johnson is a participant of CSU-Los Angeles Bachelor Degree program. Since surviving cancer, has dedicated himself to serving/mentoring/tutoring other prisoners in achieving their degrees in education. He has earned three Associate of Arts degrees.

Solomon Martin Ruiz is the Alternative to Violence Program facilitator, a member of the Reconnect Program, and is enrolling in the Antelope Valley College Program.

Albert J. Beckley Jr. is an at-risk-youth mentor for CROP, a college student seeking a Bachelors Degree in business and behavior science, and participates in the theater arts program.

Darren Leon Robinson, a participant of CSU-Los Angeles Bachelor Degree Program, supports his community inside through literacy efforts. He has earned multiple Associate of Arts degrees, and is most proud of his science and math degrees.

Paris Dixon, co-founder of CROP has helped thousands of youth for over 20 years. He participates in the Coastline Community College and the Inmate Advisory Council.

What is the PPF?

The Honor Yard/Progressive Program Facility has participated in living amends and making charitable donations since 2002. Past endeavors and donations from PPF community have included Grace Resources, St. Jude’s Hospital, The Fair Chance Project, The Boys and Girls Club, Tsunami Relief Fund, Cancer Walk-a-thon, Battered Women’s Shelter, Runaway Youth, Words Uncaged, The Catalyst Foundation, and standard aptitude testing fees for local high schools graduates.

Men and women get lunch bags from Subway sandwich shop, unloading them from a truck.
Nurses at two outside hospitals were provided lunch thanks to 10 incarcerated men at CSP-Los Angeles County.