LIFE IS NOT OVER: Words of Wisdom and a Bright Light From San Quentin Death Row

 I first met Tio MacDonald when he initially expressed interest in attending the opening reception for “UNCHAINED ARTISTS” – a collaborative art exhibit between between PATH and ARtReach where original  artwork by incarcerated artists (including San Quentin death row artists) was  displayed at the Bank of Marin in Mill Valley.

Tio MacDonald is the Chief Editor of the “East Oakland Times, LLC” – a multi-media publication based in the SF Bay Area.  EOT projects include quarterly print publication for free distribution on the streets of East Oakland; Publication of original inmate art and books; MY CRIME SERIES (books written on inmates by inmates – available for purchase via Amazon in paperback, kindle and/or audio book. So, check it out!

Stories presented in the THE FIRST OFFENSE: My True Crime Stories are often raw, and while you may not agree with an individual inmate’s attitude or position, or prior actions in crime that led to incarceration, the five books of the MY CRIME Series (written on an inmate, by an inmate) “…propose to candidly communicate the upbringing, life experience and motivations of the incarcerated”.  “They are intended to present an opportunity for open dialog with the public regarding crime and punishment”.

Aside from the above journalistic projects, EOT delivers podcasts from California’s condemned row. One such podcast caught my attention.  It features a man by the name of “Rual” who is on San Quentin’s death row.  It’s just a tad over 27 minutes in length; interesting, inspirational and positive. “Rual” discusses how life as a condemned inmate at San Quentin brought about a conversion of thought and mind and action and spirit, and how life goes on in prison whether in the main line or on death row and how and why inmates have a choice to not live statically.

“As a society, we do not know ourselves enough to have the right answers on justice. The MY CRIME series grants you the opportunity to sit and listen to the unknown felon and learn, as if you were on the bottom bunk, about your neighbor and what brought him or her to getting locked up”. – Tio MacDonald

Myself, having served as a Petit Juror on numerous occasions, as well as a Grand Juror for a Newark, NJ court of law in the 2000’s, I can personally attest to the fallibility of the justice system.  I also personally know people who were incarcerated for many long years who were innocent, and only until proven innocent with the help of organizations such as THE INNOCENCE PROJECT and through DNA testing, that they were released and exonerated. Such is the case of Keith A. Harward who will be featured on a Netflix documentary this Fall.

Enjoy and be blessed!

Leslie Lakes, Director


 Front and back cover of The Five Crime Books

Tio MacDonald (L) and “Rual” (R)  Spring 2018 at San Quentin State Prison