Credible Messenger Arts Fellow
At the age of 19, Christian was sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). During his incarceration, Christian focused on how he came to believe that taking a life would take away his pain or redeem him. The latter said it all, as wanting redemption suggested that he felt worthless, unwanted, and unacceptable to others. It would take decades to unravel the knots so tightly tangled within him. Christian began to see his violence, which he once saw as his saving grace, as his greatest weakness.
Owning his trauma and how he survived them took the most courage he had ever had to call upon. It forever transformed his concept of strength, courage, and honor. His life became centered around amends and exploring what that meant.
This journey began as Christian tried to give back in meaningful ways to others who had survived traumatic experiences. He joined an art program that gave to charities twice a year and taught other prisoners how to develop their talents. When Arts In Corrections was removed from CDCR, they were allowed to create their own program that was self-funded and developed by a small group of LWOP prisoners. This space became a nucleus for introspection, personal development, and expression as their growth deepened. It profoundly changed the lives of those inside and outside of the program.
Being a part of this group allowed Christian to develop an amends group that led to a direct amends with the survivor of his crime. Preserved in the CNN special, “The Redemption Project – Episode 7: Left For Dead.” He would later receive a miraculous act of mercy from the Governor of California, commuting his sentence, which allowed him the opportunity to come home. In a deeply humbling experience, the survivor of his crime fought harder for his freedom than he ever had, and they became the best of friends to this day.
Now Christian works with ARC to share this journey with the youths in Juvenile Halls, giving new experiences, developing introspection, and breaking the conceptual divide that says they need to be redeemed. If they cannot relate to their own pain, they cannot relate to others’ pain. This is the core of their humanity. They can only know what they receive, and that is what makes mercy so powerful: it can break the cycle of trauma.