San Quentin Sate Prison
Note from TLM: James Houston was released from San Quentin State State Prison – June, 2013 after being incarcerated for 18 years. James is a graduate and founding member of The Last Mile, a business and entrepreneurship program in San Quentin. James was an inspiration to many men inside San Quentin and now he begins a new journey as a free man. We are excited about the positive impact James will have on his community in the years to come. Welcome home James.
Recently my friend and fellow member of The Last Mile, James Houston went home. My relationship with James evolved over a two year period. We have similar personalities in a lot of ways. We both watched each other from afar before opening up to each other. James is the kind of guy that is easy to open up to because he is so genuine, but I’m not really the guy who opens up to people.
As our relationship evolved, I grew to admire James for the person he is. I saw the man behind the smile. I saw the man that faced the adversity in his life and conquered it. I saw the man who is the furthest thing from a hypocrite I’ve ever seen. James is a humble human being who cares so much about his fellow man that he willingly helped others inside these walls, a place where most of the people are only out for themselves.
To say I hold James in high esteem is an understatement. I will say that in my 16 years of incarceration, I have never met a more outstanding individual. I know I am describing James like he is the second coming, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. I only want to express the esteem I hold James in because I know where he comes from.
James comes from an undeserved community in Richmond, CA, a place full of vice and violence. James will be the first to tell you that he succumbed to the pressures in his community and committed an act of violence. However, James has broken the negative cycle and he is creating positive change. From counseling at risk youth to helping men in prison understand that they are not the worse decision of their lives. Now he is working toward bringing a program named “Teen Tech Hub” to help at risk youth in his hometown. James never forgot where he came from.
Because of the impact James made in this prison community, he will be sorely missed. I had the opportunity to tell James how I felt about him before he left. I told him that I looked up to him and that I have never told anyone that. I told him this because I realize you rarely get to meet someone you see as your role model, and even rarer is when you get the opportunity to tell them how you feel face to face.
I know James will never forget where he came from, but I will caution him to never forget where he is headed to. With that said I wish my friend the best in life because he is a deserving individual. Good luck my friend.
All communications between inmates and external channels are facilitated by approved volunteers since inmates do not have access to the internet. This program with Quora is part of The Last Mile San Quentin. Twitter: @TLM