Volunteer Sue Spies, left, tapped youth offender Jose Vega to illustrate the cover of a religious booklet.

Volunteer Sue Spies, left, tapped youth offender Jose Vega to illustrate the cover of a religious booklet.

By CDCR Chaplain Catherine Conneally-Salazar
Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

One Sunday in early spring, as volunteer Sue Spies and her husband were coming to the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF) Catholic Chapel to provide religious services, they noticed a sidewalk chalk drawing done by a youth offender.

Impressed by the quality of the drawing, and in need of an artist to draw the cover of a religious booklet she was in charge of for an upcoming conference for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Spies saw an opportunity to showcase the youth’s work.

She asked Jose if he would be willing to draw the cover and he agreed.  Over the next two months, Sue and Jose met to flesh out the image of Jesus embracing a young man with people from various ethnic backgrounds looking on.

“I always enjoyed doing art and was always trying to get better at it. I started to draw again when I arrived at VYCF and realized that I have potential,” Jose said.