help bring jrod home
We need your help! Sign this petition to help us free my brother, Jonathan Rodriguez. It’s been over 12 years since Jonathan committed his crime. That young 16-year-old boy who made foolish decisions; is now a 29-year-old educated, skilled, and respectable man waiting for his opportunity to be free. Even though Jonathan has proven himself worthy of parole through programs, good behavior, and accountability his chance to be granted parole has repeatedly fallen through the cracks despite parole’s promise to give him a chance at coming home early, if compliant.Sign Petition
help bring jrod home
We need your help! Sign this petition to help us free my brother, Jonathan Rodriguez. It’s been over 12 years since Jonathan committed his crime. That young 16-year-old boy who made foolish decisions; is now a 29-year-old educated, skilled, and respectable man waiting for his opportunity to be free. Even though Jonathan has proven himself worthy of parole through programs, good behavior, and accountability his chance to be granted parole has repeatedly fallen through the cracks despite parole’s promise to give him a chance at coming home early, if compliant.
This podcast was first initiated to help liberate my brother Jonathan and to share our story in how his guidance and mentorship led to my pursuit in becoming an Astronaut despite him being in prison. However, along the journey - I found that my brother’s situation is only a battle to this entire war against the injustices of the prison system. Therefore, this podcast was modified to serve a bigger purpose by using our stories to do our part in dismantling the prison system. I was joined by a friend who was sentenced to life at 18 years old and was able to come home after 25 years at age 43 thanks to some laws that allowed him to see the light again. We both share our testimonies, learnings, and experiences.
Streets to the Stars
Jonathan's younger brother - Joshua speaks on how Jonathan's mentorship led him to work at NASA with the goal of becoming an Astronaut - helping him escape from the perpetuating cycle that plagues their community. We need your help by signing the petition to make the parole board hear our calls to help free my brother Jonathan Rodriguez.
Isaiah 44:22 Redemption
Josh Pinedo, a friend who - was sentenced to life at 18 years old, shares his testimony as a lost individual trapped in gang culture. Pinedo changed his life around and was eventually allowed to come home at age 43 after serving 25 years thanks to California's Senate Bill 261, which gave him a fair chance to see freedom.
Josh Pinedo and Joshua Rodriguez discuss the importance of taking care of victims to help them find true healing to prevent more pain from reoccurring. The topic of family betrayal and how to heal from it - is also discussed.
A Lifer's Love Story
Pinedo tells the story of how he met his wife when they were teens and inspired her to pursue her dream of serving our country - helping her escape the gang culture while he lived it - vicariously living through her.
Nowadays we’ll hear that same bird call: It’s free my family until the wheels fall off. But who’s really free?
Our souls are enclosed in our bodies as we keep it bound in chains from inequities and foolish things. Once your family is free, are they given the same opportunities like you and me?
Maybe they want to give back to the community by showing that a young citizen affected by the prison system can make something from nothing. But without a chance being given, what can this citizen do?
Even if he did pay his dues, make sure his mental screws weren’t loose, did his time and kept his behavior in line; however, no proper resources can cause someone to race back into their old ways and sins at a drop of a dime.
Try hard every summer to not let the game take us under, but with no help; We let the game put us asunder.
It’s hard not to wonder, ‘why can’t my colored brothers make it out this rabbit hole just like the lighter-complected others?’
It’s a painful thing to see as your loved ones fall back into the same traps that lead them down that wicked and self-destructive path.
So again I repeat: Who’s free?
“State your number”.
“Thank you. So, offender, do you believe in your best interest that you’ve been rehabilitated?”
“If you give a person a gallon of water after days in the desert without it, he will die. He will immediately try drinking it all. You have to give him small doses of it. To get his body used to it again.
You are giving this kid too much water, start off light to get him used to feeling loved again.”
It’s an analogy I learned and provided to a prisoner volunteer while serving my time.
Rehabilitated? Well sir, I don’t know if that’s the word per se, but learn; I did, that I‘ll say. Learned a few codes, played my role and always placed seeds of wisdom into the letters I sent to my younger siblings back home.
Am I sorry for my wrongdoing?
Not a day goes by as memory flickers through old time on that fateful day; looking back on who I was as a young kid walking down the path of inaccurate ways.
If there was a chance to talk sense into that boy; tell him how life is and how it works, warn him that his friend was just as lost as him
That young kid I would want to save only wanted to take that stranger’s money; regardless if the man was rich or poor, but his friend wanted more.
A few young kids both see the stranger's priceless spirit on the cold floor. If I had one chance, I would.. but I can’t; he’s not here anymore.
What’s left is a grown man with regrets who’s turned his transgression into correction; so that he could learn his lesson.
Now this man is trying to teach the young the lesson of his indiscretion; in hopes that they will obtain the illuminating blessing.
I don’t mean to reject the word “rehabilitate” in any disrespect. For fellows like me who’ve seen what we’ve seen, it takes time to get used to living in a new society.
I’m not a savage beast; I’ve been stuck in a four-cornered room staring at bar handles trying to figure out how my life went into shambles; while dealing with mistreatment from guards who’re trying to keep my mind hopeless and dismantled.
Observing others in the system lose themselves day by day is a trivia game I see, but I don’t judge because the same thing almost happened to me.
How soon can insanity and trauma consume one’s soul? That should be the name of the game, you know?
As each day goes, every single of us on the inside dream and fantasize about being granted parole. We can see those papers now hanging next to the American flag as they both elegantly dance with the air flow.
We've never seen a few pieces of paper look so beautiful, but every time we got close; those files would move swiftly like a ghost or as if those papers were hanging from some fishing pole. All in all, crushing our hopes.
But, maybe that’s the reward though. A few young lost souls take the life of a man that he rightfully owns and what’s the end result?
Regret, guilt, mental torture and a few leftovers of our battered souls; as we fight with all our might against our foes to climb up the ten foot pole that holds our chances for parole. But really, that’s what we get for reaping what we sowed.
The haunting flashbacks of sounds and images from that wretched day feels like hot scorching coal. But I know that my pain that I uphold doesn’t compare to the family who lost a soul.
Because the Good Father could have taken my younger brother and called him back to his first spiritual home or simply could’ve ended my own.
I had to put myself in their shoes and think to myself what if that was you? How could you handle losing a family member or two?
So, even though we may not be able to breathe the same airflow; giving an apology to the family may not be enough, but it is rightfully owed. Not only to them; but also to my family back home.
I am grateful for my brother, Joshua, for hearing and collecting the words of gold I bestowed unto him as he strives for his goals. There were times when I thought he was ashamed of his big bro, however deep down; he just hated to see his best friend go.
So many years have past us and now; he’s doing great things working for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Coming from where we’re from, greatness doesn’t find a dwelling place; it usually surpasses us.
I can’t thank my big sister enough for doing everything she could to make sure the family was good. Even when the family may have lost hope for me; I know that she kept them together to cope and keep the unity.
I know it took a toll on my little sister seeing the family hurt. From the crystals of guidance I gave to her, to what she’s observed from the situations I told her that occured; she wanted to make sure that what happened to us never reoccurs.
So, to know that she put her feet in the mud and dirt to earn her masters in Social Work is nothing short of a blessing for sure.
To my mom and dad; you guys gave me pearls of wisdom and diamonds of advice to stay on the right path; only for me to crush your jewels and throw them in the trash.
Now, here I am trying to collect those remaining shards from our past but, behold; what’s left has now turned to ash.
So, to you sir; I’ve learned. However, that word rehabilitate doesn’t apply to those on the inside who still feel those detrimental scars and burns.
Albeit, a few were deserved but all of them weren’t. Which is why a citizen affected by the prison system needs time to heal because we’re all—to a degree—mentally traumatized.
I repeat, I’m not a savage beast, I’ve been in a prison cell and could not find peace. But with this opportunity, I can relearn serenity and tranquility, while walking down the path of growth, prosperity and posterity.
By Isaiah Robinson, Texas Southern University
Art has played a major role in the life of both Jonathan and Joshua. In the midst of darkness, the brothers have repeatedly been led back to their God-given artistic talents.