Chris Shurn walked out of San Quentin Prison in June after serving four years of hard time for possession of crack cocaine and a weapon charge. He joined at least 3,000 men paroled each year in Oakland, California, where the recidivism rate is more than 50 percent.
When our documentary team first met Shurn inside San Quentin in 2008, he considered himself one of the lucky ones. At 21, he entered prison with a fourth-grade education, but left with a GED certificate and was only a few semesters short of earning an associate degree.
Shurn told us there were few role models around him as a kid. He said his father left home before he entered the first grade, his mother was a crack addict and he was surrounded by a lot of violence. Ironically, San Quentin is where Shurn met the kind of role models he said he needed to break the cycle of incarceration.
His hard work and determination to change caught the eye of Everett Highbaugh, who runs a program called Project Choice. Twice a week, Highbaugh goes into San Quentin with the goal of transforming men like Shurn from drug entrepreneurs to business entrepreneurs.
Upon his release, Shurn replaced his dreadlocks and prison uniform with casual attire and a neatly manicured haircut. He said he felt relieved after the harsh conditions of prison life, but said he struggles every day in his Oakland neighborhood to resist the temptations of making easy money by selling crack cocaine. Read full article »