Inmates write play about life in prison, you can watch it free

OTAY MESA – Inmates at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility are exploring their softer, and more creative sides. A brand new play written by inmates details what life’s like behind bars. CW6’s Jenny Day ventured inside the prison walls Thursday for a rare opportunity to go inside the maximum security yard.

She made her way through two checkpoints, four gates, and countless guards – all to shed light on “The Playwrights Project.” It allows inmates to release stress, and express themselves on paper.

The play is titled “I’m good” It’s an acronym for Incarcerated Men, Getting Over Obstacles Daily.

“I’m Good” was written and produced by the inmates. “It’s a blessing, it really is,” Rudy Chavez said.

“The Playwrights Project” is a privilege. Good behavior gets and keeps you in the class. “It was a process, not about perfection,” Joshua Jones said.

Inside the cement walls, and over the barbed wire fence, live ideas – ideas that are inspired by real life. “Whatever comes to my heart, I’m going to write it. I learned a lot about myself and the pain and struggle,” Jones said. “I was entrenched early on, in gangs and drugs, and I fell into it,” Joseph Herrera said.

Out of the eight aspiring Shakespeare’s who shared their story with me, five are serving life sentences, mostly for murder. “The past is not who I am today,” Jones said. They all crave to still make something of themselves. “We all wanted to let society know that we’re human beings who made some terrible mistakes in life and we’re trying to reflect, make amends and restitution and want to change life,” Herrera added.

Much of the play centers on the struggles of life under lock and key, the factors that led to incarceration, and the powerful role of compassion in rehabilitation. “There is hope, we’re not just here to rot,” Jones said.

Starting April 20th, their words, their emotions, their vision, will come to life on stage, and be performed by San Diego State students – giving voice to the script that believes in second chances.

This play will be performed at the Experimental Theater at San Diego State April 20th-23rd at 7:30 pm Tickets are free.

When I asked the men what they miss the most, the vast majority said – family.


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