Ventura YCF offenders said they were more aware of crimes’ impacts

By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer,
Sheldon L. Jones, Senior Youth Correctional Counselor,
and Lamonica Cotton, Parole Agent
Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

Young offenders at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (YCF) recently heard a strong and emotional message from a murder victim’s mother.

During National Crime Victims’ Week in April, Marisa Martinez spoke to 31 young men in the Mira Loma Living Unit at Ventura YCF. She shared the story of how one of her twin sons, Vincent, was shot to death on the front lawn of the family home a decade ago.

Martinez told the youth how quickly her family’s lives were shattered with one bullet.

Martinez said her son Vincent was getting ready to have dinner with his pregnant girlfriend, when a vehicle rolled up in front of the family home. Someone in the vehicle opened fire, shooting and killing her son.

She has since started a chapter of Parents of Murdered Children in Ventura.

For her, speaking at the event and being part of the chapter organization she started are outlets for dealing with the grief.

“I kind of see it as his gift to me,” Martinez said. “In a way, a little part of him is still here and that’s what makes my days go by a little easier.”

Offender Ricardo, who was in attendance, said what the murder victim’s mother has gone through touched him.

“Her story really hit me because she saw her son get killed in front of her house,” Ricardo said. “What hit me the most was that her son’s girlfriend was … pregnant and that baby will never meet her father.”

Michael, another offender also in attendance, said he’s thinking more about those impacted by crime.

“Not only was I moved by her testimony, but it also caused me to look at my victims in a whole new light,” he said. “I really appreciate that she took the time to come and speak to us despite the fact that some of us are incarcerated for exactly what she (Marisa Martinez) stands against.”

This is not the first time Martinez has spoken to youth offenders at Ventura YCF. She said she plans to come every year.

“I loved it, and I want to be more involved,” Martinez said.