At age 21, James was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life. His smile tells another story though and it is one of unconditional love, forgiveness and a changed man.
James was a promising marine at the age of 20, one year later he was sentenced to 15 years to life after a deadly confrontation with a drug dealer. Prison became survival and the first few years he was in isolation, he shared a recreation yard with death row inmates, including Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams, founder of the notorious Crips gang in Los Angeles. When James was allowed to rejoin the prison’s general population in 1987, he took advantage of the opportunity to make more of his life.
Almost three years out of prison now, James smile tells the story. He completed his BS in psychology shortly after release, graduating summa cum laude. Now his days are filled with helping people from all walks of life as a drug and alcohol counselor in Napa and Sonoma Counties, a career inspired by his mother, who passed away in 2012. He also serves as a lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project in Santa Rosa. In February James was honored with the unsung hero award for compassion, presented to him by the Dalai Lama for his work founding a program in prison to tutor inmates.