Ricardo Garcia, 28, reads to his nephew, Noah, from a Colorado prison. Garcia is incarcerated for a burglary conviction and parole violation. He has hopes that by exposing his nephew to literature, Noah will have a chance to live a different life than his uncle.
“Before, when I was out on the streets I was not a good example for him,” Garcia said. “I have a desire to be there for him. I want to be a good role model. I really hope they see that education is important and that reading is important.”
Garcia and other inmates are changing the grim statistics that children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to end up in prison.
The reading program, Read to the Children is an innovative idea directed by Diane Waldon, state librarian.
Read to the Children entails inmates who have a good behavior record reading children’s stories to their kids. The parent’s voices are recorded on a DVD and sent to their children or loved ones. The postage is paid by the participating inmates.
In 2004, I was falsely accused of a crime. I did not foresee how this unfortunate situation was going to morph into changing many lives in a positive way. In 2006, I founded Full Circle Restorative Justice in Chaffee County Colorado, which is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization committed to facilitating victims and offenders to reconcile crimes and minimize involvement with the legal system. The goal of the process is to lower the recidivism rate.
I was introduced to the Non-Violent Communication founded by Marshall B. Rosenberg Ph. D. in 2007. Patty La Taille, who is the current Executive Director of Full Circle Restorative Justice, and I initiated a bi-monthly Non-Violent Communication study group. We used Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, A Language of Life 2nd edition and the companion workbook as our guide. We appropriately named our group meeting Compassionate Listening Study Group. I recognized the value of this innovative approach to mediation and communication skills and had a vision of incorporating it into the justice system.
Patty La Taille has taken Non-Violent Communication to a higher level in Chaffee County. She has attended two of Marshall Rosenberg’s (NVC) intensive workshops, and brought her newly acquired skills back to Salida, Colorado. La Taille facilitates NVC study groups at the Salida Middle School and Chaffee County Detention center. She, along with board member Karen, Latvala is educating students about new ways to resolve conflict with their peers.