By Eddie Escobar, Community Resources Manager
Mule Creek State Prison
Mule Creek State Prison recently hosted its annual speaker panel of victims and survivors of crime in honor of National Crime Victims’ Right Week. This year’s theme was “Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope.”
“After many years in prison, we become numb to the victim’s experience. Hearing these victims speak every year reminds me of the debt I owe society and my victims to get better,” said one inmate.
Another inmate said, “For years I have only had my version. These panels allow us to hear the victim’s experience of the crime.”
This year’s event hosted over a dozen speakers representing five victims’ rights organizations: The Lodi Gang Reduction and Intervention Program (GRIP), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Parents of Murdered Children, Operation Care, and the Partnership for Re-entry Program.
Inmate participation also increased. This year, 300 inmates attended each of the five days of speaking events.
In answering a question from an inmate about why speaking to prisoners is important for victims, Lonnie George from Mothers Against Drunk Driving said, “Speaking about what happened to my son gives me peace and promotes awareness.”
Victims’ stories were not only inspiring but often very emotional. Sandra Rose’s 20-year-old son Anthony was murdered last year at a Home Depot parking lot by a stray bullet. She sobbed while telling the inmates, “This is not normal. No mother wants to bury their child. Children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around.”
Presenters not only shared their stories, but also gave stern messages to the inmates.
Jose, 17, lost his 13-year-old friend last year due to gang violence.
“It’s not too late. Your kids need you. If you don’t have a relationship with your kids, keep trying,” he told the inmates.