Inmates bow their heads as they listen to Lisa Ortiz, of Mothers with a Message.

Inmates bow their heads as they listen to Lisa Ortiz, of Mothers with a Message.

By Lt. Everardo Silva, A.A., Public Information Officer
Calipatria State Prison

For one recent weekend, inmates at Calipatria State Prison (CAL) had a slight reprieve from the normal daily routine thanks to some rehabilitative endeavors offered by former inmates.

CAL hosted X-Fest 2014 for Facility C and D, where professional arm wrestlers, skateboarders, Hell Fighters motorcyclist ministries and non-profit groups performed and spoke to the inmates during the two-day event.

According to officials, it gave the inmates the opportunity to experience something they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

The event was organized by the Prison-Ministry, a Christian-based ministry. The event is entirely funded by donations.

Carolyn Fisher arm wrestles an inmate during X-Fest.

Carolyn Fisher arm wrestles an inmate during X-Fest.

Field Director Jonathan Lowry, who spent 18 years of his life in prison and paroled out of CAL in 1998, said it was about doing something for others.

“I return this weekend to give back, as you don’t see this in prison very often,” he said. “This is how I’m able to give back to the prison and to the community. This event is about mentoring and letting the inmates know that I too have been through the same things as they have and that others have been impacted by our actions.”

Lowry went on to tell the inmates there are people willing to help them but, first, they must want to be helped.

Hell Fighter Ministries President Mike Grubb is a former inmate who was released from prison in 2005.

He said this weekend’s X-Fest event was dedicated to Joseph Michael Tomlinson, who passed away on Friday, October 17, as he was driving his motorcycle down to the event and was hit and killed by a car.

He hopes the weekend’s events brought hope to inmates who needed it.

“I know this is what Tomlinson would have wanted, to continue to bring the message to the inmates as I’ve been talking to these guys and letting them know that they can make it out there and that there is somebody that cares for them out there,” said Grubb.

Warden Warren L. Montgomery emphasized the rehabilitative nature of such an event.

“Programs through the Prison Ministry help to reduce recidivism which leads to safer communities,” Montgomery said. “It helps inmates continue on a rehabilitative path upon release and helps them overcome obstacles that they may encounter ones they parole. It also introduces them to positive behavioral programs within the institution. It is key to the success of staying (on the right path) to know there are people who are willing to help them upon their release.”

Jerry Demink, aka Hot Rod Jerry, performs during X-Fest.

Jerry Demink, aka Hot Rod Jerry, performs during X-Fest.

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