Clarity & Perspective Through Art at Avenal

Eladio took the lowest moment of his incarceration and flipped it to help his community

Editor's Note:

In the fall of 2018, Cecilia Morales joined our Participatory Defense meetings to advocate for her two sons. In April of 2020, right when COVID restrictions were put in place inside the court system, her older son Eladio was denied parole. The experience left Eladio depressed and made him question his future. Fortunately, through his support inside and outside of prison, Eladio was able to use this negative moment and turn into something powerful.

I am proud to share this letter from my son Eladio about his experience helping paint a mural at the visiting center inside Avenal State Prison. Eladio has been incarcerated since he was 17 years old - he is now 34. Unfortunately, he was recently denied parole and this experience affected him deeply. We’ve been working with Silicon Valley De-Bug over the last 3 years preparing his Social Biography Packet which includes letters of support from our family and friends, certificates he’s received, courses he’s taken in plumbing, and all of the progress he’s made over the last 15 years of his incarceration. 

His parole board hearing was done over Zoom due to COVID. The connection cut out the whole time, Eladio and his lawyer were both kicked off the hearing several times - Eladio felt he was not able to express himself clearly. We were all very sad to hear the news, but Eladio took it very hard - when I spoke to him in the weeks after, he was ready to give up and stop his programming. I told him, “it didn’t happen this time, but we will keep fighting, and we will keep preparing for the next one.” Luckily, through the support he has inside and out of prison, he was able to come out of his depression and found motivation to keep working on himself. About two months after his parole hearing, a friend of his inside Avenal told him about creating a mural at the visiting center. When he told me about it, I could tell his attitude had completely changed: he was very motivated. He didn’t know how to paint but he was going to try his hardest to assist with the mural. 

When I finally saw the photo of Eladio next to the mural it made me so happy and proud. He told me that through this experience he learned that trying things and being motivated to do them, even if you don’t know how, can be done with the right attitude and perseverance. Today, Eladio is more motivated than ever - he’s signed up for college courses, he’s learning to weld and has been playing soccer when he’s able to; he’s staying busy and wants to continue to better himself. 

I want to let other families know to stay motivated and to have faith. Young people have the capacity to change and grow - I’ve seen it with my own son Eladio.