Episode 10

The Prison Post #10 Christopher Gooden, Life Lessons After 16 years Incarcerated

Published on: 14th October, 2020

Cristopher Gooden was born in Oceanside, California on September 5th, 1987. He was sentenced to 15 years to life for second degree murder at the age of 16. He served 15 years of that sentence, and was denied the first time at the California Board of Prison Hearings, but was found suitable for parole and released after 18 years of incarceration at the age of 33.

Chris’ father was a marine and he looked up to him, he was an honorable man in Chris’ eyes. His mother was a stay at home mom, helping raise Chris and his sister. Life was pleasant until Chris was around the age of 8 or 9. His parents started going through a divorce.

His parents separated and his mom eventually moved out to live with her sister. Chris wanted to live with his mom, but was told that he had to stay with his dad. This was when Chris was around the age of 13 or 14, and his relationship with his father only grew worse. He would regularly beat Chris for doing anything wrong, and his rules were extremely strict. Chris recalls a day when he was trying to get his dress pants on for his Jehovah’s Witness meeting, and they wouldn’t fit. His dad came in and started trying to force them on him, Chris told his dad that he wasn’t going to the meeting. His dad told him if he wasn’t going then he didn’t have to live there anymore.

That’s all Chris wanted to hear, he didn’t want to live with him anyways. So he took the bus down to his mom’s apartment, thinking that she would be happy to see him and take him in. When he got there however, it was a different story, she said that she couldn’t have him live there because the apartment wasn’t big enough. Chris was devastated, so he went to his last resort, his cousins that lived nearby, who took him in. He knew his cousins were involved in gang activity, but he didn’t mind because they were the only ones that took him in.

At this time Chris was going to middle school, and he started to hang out with Oceanside Bloods. Chris enjoyed school and was pretty good at it, but when he started to hang out with his cousins and the gang more, he started to slack off in school and not put much effort towards his school work. He got in trouble for stealing a drug scale to sell to his homie, and started getting in fights in school. Because he had been in trouble so many times, he was warned by the principal that if he caught Chris wearing red in school that he would be expelled. The next day Chris came to school in all red clothing, which got him expelled.

Chris then goes to an alternative school, and starts doing well again. He gets approached by the high school football coach and tells Chris if he gets out of the alternative school, he’ll let him play for the team. He does pretty well and eventually gets into the high school. A few months into being enrolled in high school, he gets jumped by a rival gang, and got kicked out of school again.

He was still living with his cousins in their apartment, and one of his younger cousins, Jamal, would hung out with him. He wasn’t involved in the gang at all, he wouldn’t even drink or smoke, he just liked hanging out. Him and Chris were heading to the store, and Chris noticed some Mexican gang members that were not usually in this part of town. He didn’t think too much of it because sometimes they made a deal there, or were just passing through. On their way back to the apartment, the car sped up behind them and shot at Chris and Jamal. Chris managed to get away, but he looked back and Jamal was dead.

He channelled all his hate and his anger toward the Mexican gang. A few months later he went to a party with a few friends and there were Mexican gang members at the party. Chris knew it wasn’t going to end well, so he left with a few of his friends. While driving around they came across a Mexican to rob. While Chris was walking up to take his money, his hate took over and he shot him point blank. As they were driving away, the cops pulled them over and arrested Chris and his friend.

He got sent to county jail and awaited his trial. While on trial, after a few mishaps, he eventually accepted a deal for 15 years to life for second degree murder. Chris would be sent to juvenile hall until he was 18. While in juvenile hall he got his GED and graduated with his diploma. However he still had the a criminal, and decided he would be in prison for a while. When he got transferred to prison, he got sent to a level 4, which is the most dangerous level. While in this level 4 prison, he witnessed 2 people get murdered.

Eventually, Chris transformed his life and was found suitable for parole. He was released 2 months ago and plans on helping youth who are in a similar situation that he was in and explain to them that they can change before they end up in prison. Prison reform is a big part of Chris’s agenda now that he is free, and he was reunited with wife, sister, daughter, and his mom. He spent half of his young life in prison. This is his reentry story...#ThePrisonPost #ThePrisonPostPodcast #TheFourPillarsofSuccessfulReentry #WorkingTogethertoResoreLives #CROPOrganization #CROP #ThePrisonPostTen https://croporganization.org/

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The Prison Post
Transforming Lives and Healing Communities by Reimagining Reentry
The Prison Post is a podcast interviewing leaders in the criminal justice reform, restorative justice, and social justice movements. In addition, we share the transformational stories of the currently and formerly incarcerated and highlight what CROP Organization is doing by reimagining reentry for returning citizens.
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Richard Mireles

With a Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Management from California Coast University, Richard is a dynamic public speaker and expert communicator with Advanced Leadership and Communication certifications with the world recognized Toastmasters International. Having spent over 21 years inside of CDCR, Richard made abundant contributions as a cofounder of the Inside Solutions think-tank and lead intern for the CROP Organization’s programs offered within institutions. An inspiring leader and powerful orator with over 35 transformational coaching seminars and workshops, Richard possesses the uncanny ability to capture a room's attention while conveying impactful messages to any audience. He has an advanced certification as an Alcohol and Other Drug counselor (receiving a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his contributions to the recovery community) and was the only known incarcerated person to earn the status of associate trainer for John Maxwell’s EQUIP Leadership and its Million Leader Mandate.