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Life on the Outside

Life on the Outside is a podcast that shares stories about returning to society after decades of incarceration. For many, the process of reentry is complex and they navigate society that is in many ways very different from the one they left decades earlier.

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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KANAKA

Maria Kanaka Luna got locked up in 1995, went to county jail, then hit the penitentiary in 1996 and 23 years later she was released. Freedom didn't settle in right away for Maria. She was picked up by ICE and still faces deportation. But that won't stop her from enjoying her freedom. She works at Homeboy Industries, advocates for people still inside, and wants to learn how to milk a cow. Each day is a blessing and Maria is soaking it all in. 

26mins

8 Jan 2020

Rank #1

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Shadows

Thurston spent 37 years in prison for first-degree murder. When he gets out on December 31st, 2014, he sees shadows. Is freedom everything he expected? It is. But there's also a dark side. 

12mins

7 Jun 2018

Rank #2

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The Dream

Fred Price served 26 years in the California Prison System. When he went in, in 1991, he was known as 'Magic Man' and had heavy gang ties. Seventeen years into his sentence he had a dream on night. This dream changed his life and would be the beginning of a fresh start.

19mins

3 Aug 2018

Rank #3

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LWOP

Kenneth E. Hartman served 38 years in the California prison system having been convicted to 'Life without the possibility of parole' back in the 1970s. He shares stories from his time at the notorious Old Folsom prison, his turn to activism, and his transformation after the birth of his daughter while he was still incarcerated. The day before Easter in 2017 Kenneth's sentence was commuted by Governor Jerry Brown. In December of that year he was released. Freedom is still surreal. 

27mins

1 Jul 2019

Rank #4

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Prayed You Home

James spent 29 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Was he bitter? At first yes, he says. But he found a way to make the best out of a bad situation. He took college classes, played sports, and signed up for all the self-help classes he could. As the years went by James maintained his truth: innocence. 

16mins

22 Sep 2018

Rank #5

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The Work

Cesar spent 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. To earn his freedom, he accepted responsibility for other parts of his gang lifestyle and found deep insights into his childhood that helped shed light on why he took the path he did. Today, Cesar works for the Hope & Redemption Team under the Anti-Recidivism Coalition based in Downtown LA. As part if his work he travels to prisons throughout the state speaking with other lifers who seek guidance, hope, and support as they begin their journey towards transformation and ultimately, freedom as well. 

18mins

22 Dec 2018

Rank #6

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Dressed in Freedom

It took the first ten years of Je'Anna's 30-year prison sentence for her to finally want to make a change in her life.  First her peers noticed, then the Correctional Officers, and finally the California Parole Board. Je'Anna was found suitable for parole in 2017 and released this past February after 3 decades of incarceration. In Episode 6, Je'Anna and Lucy sit in a park and talk about reentry, remorse, and the rewards of perseverance.

22mins

1 Nov 2018

Rank #7

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Glaring Sun

Johnathan was sober, but he was still struggling, trying to play two sides. When he went through AA, step 7 struck him. It talks about how in the midst of our addiction we make decisions based on comfort, not character. This resonated. Johnathan knew he had principles and values but comfort and convenience was overriding them. With each piece of insight and perspective, Johnathan gets closer to his essence, his remorse, and eventually, his release into the free world. 

25mins

11 Dec 2019

Rank #8

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Bulletproof

Ben once thought he was bulletproof. But then he committed his crime and got sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile. He'll admit, there were good times in prison. He made friends and during the holidays they would gather to prepare meals in his cell. But nothing compares to the freedom he has today and there is no where he'd rather be than living his life on the outside.

14mins

8 Mar 2019

Rank #9

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Live Free or...

After 31 years in prison Thomas Eirls was exhausted and had made up his mind. Even with a life-sentence, he decided that he could only give five more years of his life to the system. He chose five years because that's how long it was until his next shot at freedom, a parole board hearing. But Thomas decided that would be his last one, no matter what the outcome was. 

24mins

3 Oct 2019

Rank #10

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Mother California

Kenneth Hartman is a prolific writer and author of two books, including Mother California, which he wrote while serving a 'life-without-the-possibility-of-parole' sentence in the California prison system. After 38 years, Mr. Hartman was commuted by Governor Brown and released from prison. In Episode 10 he shares the feeling of putting his feet in the ocean for the first time in almost 4 decades, reconnecting with his daughter on the outside, and why his personal success in the free world is indelibly tied to the fate of over 5,000 men and women still serving 'life-without' sentences. 

28mins

14 May 2019

Rank #11

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Mercy

At age 19 Christian was charged with murder and sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. Narrowly sidestepping the death penalty, Christian had little hope of ever getting out. Twenty-five years later, now in his 40s, Christian's sentence was commuted and he recently got out. Today Christian is working towards the same goals he had on the inside, helping others heal through meaningful dialogue and direct amends...and making art.

22mins

29 Jan 2020

Rank #12

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Made of Clay

In Episode 9 we hear from the poetic Robert Crain who served 12 years on a 15 year sentence. He talks about the power of empathy, race politics in prison, and the ways in which people assume patterns where patterns do not exist. 

17mins

7 Apr 2019

Rank #13

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Heart of Hearts

At the age of 16, Duc Ta was sentenced to life in prison and sent off to an adult facility where he would spend the next 15 years of his life. Duc has been out for six years now and in 2013, he co-founded an organization called API RISE, that seeks to empower the Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. In this episode, Duc shares what brought him into prison and the near death experience on the inside that changed everything for him. 

23mins

7 Nov 2019

Rank #14

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The Gardener

Upon Daniel's release from prison he felt numb. What was he supposed to feel? Joy? Overwhelming gratitude that so many others feel? Or perhaps he'd have the sensory experience of a child setting foot in Disney World for the first time? But it was all absent for Daniel. As his reentry unfolded, Daniel struggled to find his footing, falling into similar patterns that led to his arrest in the first place. Could he make it out here? Time would tell, and soon, he'd thrive.  

18mins

1 May 2020

Rank #15

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Waters Gone By

Joey Davidson went to prison at 14 years old with a life sentence. At age 17, he stepped onto one of the worst, most dangerous prison yards in the state of California. The prison was Calipatria State Prison. It took years for Joey to find is way. But through faith and divine intervention Joey was able to sidestep many instances of violence and in some cases, death. He's out today, attending Divinity school and living in North Caroline with his wife and new baby. Do the horrors of his past still haunt him? 

22mins

21 Apr 2020

Rank #16

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Sink or Swim

When Anthony got out he walked up to a tree and gave it a huge hug. He remembered trees from his childhood but for fifteen years he barely saw any at all. When he got out, he made it his business to hug one. In this conversation, we discuss freedom and its limitations and the simple joys of life on the outside. 

23mins

15 Mar 2020

Rank #17

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Tribute

Anthony McDuffie was seventeen years old when he went into the prison system. Today, he's in his mid-thirties and reflecting on his personal journey from gang-banging in the streets, to politicking in prison, to being the lead coordinator for Alternatives to Violence Program on the yard. But life on the outside is not all rainbows and roses...It's full of family drama, personal struggles, and political turmoil of another kind. 

18mins

14 Mar 2020

Rank #18

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Quantum Love

After nearly three decades in the California prison system, Tobias is versed in faith practices and traditions that span Islam to the Occult. He has looked down the barrel of a gun and chosen love every time. In this episode Tobias and I continue our conversation about freedom, energy, and taking a stand against the system.

19mins

21 Feb 2020

Rank #19

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Sunflower Fields

Tobias Tubbs believes in joy as resistance. He believes in love as the way forward, and he embodies this in the darkest of places and in the worst of times. He grew up with revolutionary parents at the fore of Black Liberation and that spirit remains strong in him to this day. After receiving a commutation from Governor Jerry Brown, Tobias finally had an opportunity for physical freedom and was released this fall after serving 26 years in the California prison system. 

30mins

11 Feb 2020

Rank #20