Vincent Rivera grew up in Sacramento, California to a family who loved him, in their midst of their own struggles to survive. He was on a winning state championship basketball team in high school. In 2013, Vincent was sentenced to 96 years to life at the age of 25. His original parole date was scheduled for 2109. However, a recent youth offender law called AB-1308 will afford him the opportunity to go before the parole board in 2030.
Vincent was very young when he experienced several robberies at his home. He felt powerless at the time and wanted to be able to help the situation. He made a decision at that point in his life that he would never be powerless again. Vincent saw his father deal with these types of situations in negative ways. His father used force and he started tying his masculinity to feelings of violence. He thought if he didn’t let anyone mess with him or his family people would respect him. He started getting in fights in elementary school and thought he was doing it for the right reasons. He started to get away from that lifestyle in high school and started focusing more on sports. Vincent poured himself into sports and made new efforts with his academics because he wanted to stay eligible to play on the team. However, he was leading a double life when he was at home and his teammates had no idea the life he was leading a whole different type of life off the court.
Vincent’s family had to move to a different neighborhood where was exposed to drug dealing. Eventually, he began to deal as well. He was 17 when he got his first gun. In his way of thinking at the time, life was about survival. His friends started selling weed with him and he got one of his friends a gun. He saw this as a survival tactic. His close friend was robbed while dealing and he wasn’t going to let that go without retaliation. He knew what car they drove and scoured the neighborhood trying to find the people who had robbed his friend. He thought he had identified them and shot up the wrong vehicle, but eventually he found the person who had robbed his friend and he shot and killed him.
After serving six months in prison, Vincent had an inspirational conversation about his values and he began to challenge his belief system from the past. He started questioning what he truly valued and contemplated if he had really valued his family and friends. He began to take an insightful look into his thinking and behavior and how it led him to a life sentence in prison. That spark was just what he needed to start seeing things in a different light. This meaningful conversation and others that followed led to Vincent changing his behavior and authentic values became clear.
He enrolled in college while in prison and graduated with his Associates of Arts degree with a 3.9 GPA. Today, Vincent is preparing for his parole hearing in 9 years by giving back to his community and investing in the people around him. He has a better outlook on life and is excited about his life in the future. Vincent is one of the most transformed persons that I ever met during my 21 years of incarceration. He was a part of the Lisa Ling’s “Prison to Prep School” season premiere from her show “This Is Life.” Vincent is involved in many transformative groups today and lives his life working hard to help others transform their lives and leave past negative thinking and behavior patterns that led many men to prison. He is a mentor and role model for many and is a dear from of the CROP Organization. His last cell mate, James Willock, was released after serving 29 years of incarceration and was interviewed on our show. James and others from CROP keep in touch with Vincent and we look forward to the day when he brings transformation to the world out here. #ThePrisonPost #ThePrisonPostPodcast #CROPOrganization #WorkingTogetherToRestore Lives #TransformationalLeadership