Jacob Brevard was 19 years old when he arrived in prison to serve a parole-eligible life sentence for a first degree murder conviction.
After 25 years behind bars, Brevard was granted release in 2014. He attributes his personal transformation to his mother’s death that occurred while he was incarcerated. In that moment, he says that he made a promise to himself that he was going to show up differently in life. He has kept this promise and now uses his experiences as the Associate Director of Inside Programs with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), where he runs character development and rehabilitative groups inside California prisons. Through his work Brevard is able to impact the lives of incarcerated people
“You know, you go in and the guy’s real pessimistic…and after taking programs and taking groups, you see this same person and he’s like, ‘I have to change the way I think. I have to change my mentality,’” said Brevard. “When people get it and come home, that’s the most fulfilling thing that can happen in my life and it’s wonderful.”
Brevard’s success counters the common narrative that those who caused harm in the past will always be on the brink of causing harm again so they must stay in prison. He encourages his clients in showing their capacity for change and advocates for offering meaningful opportunities for second chances.
“If you want people to change and you want public safety to be paramount, we have to change the way we deal with people who are incarcerated or previously incarcerated and give them opportunities to be successful,” he says.
“I feel like I’m an ambassador for all the people that are still doing time and that my behavior is a reflection of them,” said Brevard. “If I come out here and do something stupid, some of those guys will have to pay the price for it.”