Jaime E. was born into a toxic environment. He never met his father, and his mother had a severe drug addiction. Jaime was sexually abused from age six until his mother died when he was just ten years old. His extended family placed him in the hands of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He moved from foster care, various boy’s homes, juvenile jail, and eventually prison. Before serving his sentence, Jaime fathered a son. Like his own Dad, Jaime became an absent father.
A Change of Heart
At the beginning of his sentence, Jaime was affiliated with a gang. He longed for a sense of community and family that he never knew growing up. The trauma and abuse he suffered throughout his life created this false sense. He couldn’t wrap his head around what his family had done to him and why he had to survive all his life instead of live. The real change in Jaime came when he started InsideOut Dad®, a program to help fathers get the tools they need to become more involved, responsible, and committed to their children’s lives while incarcerated. Jaime’s son was his catalyst for change. He quit using drugs and dedicated himself to his personal growth and education throughout his incarceration.
An Institution that Believed in Him
Jaime’s work was well worth it. The people around him noticed a tremendous change, including a well-respected university that delivered educational programming inside the prison. The university saw something in Jaime that he did not see in himself. For a person who was failed time and time again by institutions, this recognition and support meant the world to Jaime. He was given a second chance at a new life all because of his desire to change, hard work, and determination.
Putting Practice into Action
Jaime’s dedication did not end after incarceration. Upon release, Jaime threw himself into service work. He founded The Real R.A.P. program, which provides mentoring and reentry resources to justice-involved individuals and facilitates AA and NA meetings within his community. He is a man of his word and avoids toxic relationships and situations. His support system includes his school, parole officer, and son.
Today, Jaime majors in Communications and Digital Media at the same institution that gave him a second chance. He advises others to be patient in the transition from incarceration to the community . Reentry and recovery are a journey, not a race, and he remains proud of his progress.