“I Want to Be that Little Bit of Hope for People Who Are Still Incarcerated”

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Carmen Garcia worked hard to earn her education and start a career.

Carmen Garcia was told not to bother with school and just take whatever job she could get. Instead, she pursued her education, began a career, and became an inspiration for her daughter.

Upon her release three years ago, Carmen was determined to defy expectations. However, when she decided that she wanted to attend college to expand her career horizons, she encountered some unexpected resistance.

“The case manager said to me, this job is the best you can do with a criminal record,” Carmen said. “Don’t bother going to school because your criminal record is always going to follow you.”

Undaunted, Carmen went to school and got her degree anyway and was hired as a teaching assistant the following semester. Today, as she continues her career, Carmen remembers how many people within the criminal justice system see recidivism as a foregone conclusion. To counter that narrative, she is determined to be an inspiration to others in similar situations.

“When you’re faced with so much hopelessness and then all of a sudden there’s something that can offer a little bit of hope … that’s why I stick around,” she said. “I want to be that little bit of hope for people who are still incarcerated and so that people who are coming out know that we don’t have to live like that and we don’t have to go back.”

You can watch Carmen’s story here. You can also visit Root & Rebound’s website to watch the rest of our Stories of Reentry series and learn how you can help us better meet the needs of those returning to society.

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