By Chau Wilson, Coach and Dale Hamad, Principal (A)
Recovery is the covenant of my evolution.
I stopped fighting my problems,
so I can solve my solutions,
and cease the delusions
that education is elusive
and exclusive to rich kids who
never knew what the risk did,
never knew what the rest did,
got abused and arrested.
Life is a pop quiz, so you know what
a test is.
This is a stanza written by the winner, Jimmy McMillan, of California State Prison, Sacramento’s 1st Annual Spoken Word Contest.
Twenty-seven participants from all four facilities submitted their literary works which addressed the topic, “Why Education is Essential to an Effective Rehabilitation and Recidivism Reduction Program.”
A panel of judges, including the institution’s artist facilitator, Jim Carlson, poet, JoAnn Anglin, and Principal (A) Hamad, first evaluated the quality of the written submissions. Participants were then required to recite their literary works for the judges to evaluate their performances.
All of the judges at the live performance (Jim Carlson, Zoe Boekinder, poet, and Principal (A) Hamad) as well as the audience members agreed that all the contestants did an outstanding job, making the selection of winners a challenge.
Coach Chau Wilson organized the contest. The performance portion of the contest was attended by outside visitors from CDCR, staff and inmates.
This display of phenomenal talent is just one example of what can happen when talent is nurtured, supported, and given an outlet in which artistry is revealed.
Many of the contest participants are active in the Creative Writing workshops offered at CSP-SAC. In these weekly workshops, inmates have a network of supportive fellow writers who give encourage, feedback, and applaud the efforts and talents of each individual. For the past three years, CSP-SAC’s administration has approved various contests that advocate vast inmate participation as well as artistic expression. Prior to this year’s Spoken Word Contest, CSP-SAC has also conducted essay and poetry contests.
These contests are intended to promote inmates’ engagement in self-reflection as well as spark their interest in participating in the various rehabilitative programs and activities that foster mental, physical, social, and spiritual growth.
This is one of the highlights of correctional education. It is wonderful when the audience and the participants have such a great artistic experience. We all win when we experience the fun and joy of learning.