Mac Lingo’s story on Joey Mason, Summer Forum Presenter, June 28, 2020

I met Joey Mason about 8 years ago in San Quentin.  He got out of prison on August 20, 2018 after a “25 years to life” sentence. I will note that he was not paroled, but because of his work in San Quentin, a group of people who were working on prison reform organized through a new law called “Recall of Commitment Offence”, took up his case.  With the approval of the prison authorities to the court that had sentenced him, Joey was released by that court for time served.

But it is also an indication of the man he had become and the faith of the people at Stanford who had administered this process for him.
And after he had been released, he became the first formerly incarcerated person ever to be hired by the Alameda County Probation Department as a Community Outreach Worker.

On his release he moved to Berkeley, though I didn’t know about his release until I actually met him that October outside the Berkeley Post Office when we resumed our friendship.

On being released from San Quentin, one of the prison’s requirements is that there will never be any contact between inmates and released inmates. Since Joey worked for the Sheriff’s Office in the department of Youth Services, however, he was given a badge. And with that badge, Joey now is allowed to go back into San Quentin and provide support his friends who are still there.

Joey is a very special man who was always working to make life better for everyone he knew.  While in prison he was certified as a crisis and suicide prevention counselor.
In a a program called “Brother’s Keeper” he worked with San Quentin’s transgender population. He started working with a program for at risk youth called “Real Choices.”
The program leaders would bring young men at risk into the prison to talk with them about what it would be like if they actually ended up there.

He worked a peer educator for the Prison Rape Elimination Act and worked with the newly incarcerated men to teach them how to live in this new environment they had entered.

I met Joey when I started volunteering with the Restorative Justice. He was one of the “circle keepers” when I met him, but he soon became one of 5 people who took responsibility for organizing and running the whole program. And it is interesting to note the RJ program was the only program in San Quentin that was officially run by the men themselves, with the unofficial help of the
volunteers who were so deeply supportive of  the program.

When you meet Joey, you will find him a very warm and engaging person.  His heart is overflowing, and he is to my mind already worthy of his place in the world to come.