Prison Radio
United Black Family Scholarship Foundation

How you doin’? My name is Willie Morris Clay, the second.  I’m Oakland, California native, 57 years of age, and I’m been incarcerated for approximately 15 years. I’m currently a resident in the Last Histories Honor Program. I’ve been working diligently on showing myself improved in terms of redemption, remorse, and repentance through my actions and conduct. I participated in various rehabilitative programs. Those efforts consisted of anger management, denial management, victims awareness, conflict recognition and resolution, and relapse prevention, to name a few. I assist with tutoring, mentorship, and I facilitate those groups above as a means to give back to my community in hopes of getting other men to a place of healing, thus rehabilitation.  I’ve also been participating in industry of rehabilitation in terms of a Rehabilitative Barber Vocational Training Program, in which I created a 501(c)(3), and submitted to the Governor[‘s] office for implementation into CDCR institutions [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation], for which I received a response dated January 24, 2022 from Susanna Walsh, Administrative Assistant, OCE [Oregon Corrections Enterprises].

My inspiration for creating a non-profit was out of a sheer desire to provide the prison industry [?] inmate population with a vocational training for gainful employment upon release. What I’m offering to the administration as [society?] is that RBVTP, “Rehabilitated Barber Vocational Training Program”, will prepare participants with the opportunity to acquire all the licenses prior to release. This is significant for the reason that one could be released from prison, prepared for tangible employment that day. This has the potential of producing taxpaying citizens, community leaders, and reducing recidivism. We understand an employment in and of itself may not be enough to reduce recidivism because of the multitude of personal and extenuating circumstances predicated on traumatic experiences.  Aligned with the goals and mission of CDCR “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation” and DRP “Division of Rehabilitative Programs” and the CBT “Cognitive Behavior Treatment Programs”, I have implemented a provision in the OPP, “Operation Program Procedures”, that RBVTP participants will have to be engaged in rehabilitative programming as a requirement, as a means to increase their success upon reentry. In addition, through RBVTP, the barbers also act as role models. Haircuts take an average of 20 to 30 minutes. It is during this time the barber builds a personal relationship with a customer. For 5 to 18-year olds, this can be an asset. Barbers who have been through adversity and achieved above standards are needed as community leaders and mentors.

 In reviewing our conference topics, which two do you believe will best equip you to become a problem solver, particularly, as someone who was once considered a source of the problems?  Well, the two topics that interested me the most was communications and access while incarcerated. And the second topic was transitioning your program from prison to outside communities. And I’m going to try to wrap this up in one example from myself. The communications and access while incarcerated is extremely important because it allows us to confer and socialize with individuals that have resources, that have the capabilities, and to provide us with different resources to assist us, and perpetuating or introducing our non-profits to society and giving us the assistance that we need.  And that can be in reference to financial assistance, recruiting volunteers, and developing a board of directors, the leadership development, budgeting and finances. And that’s just to name a few that – individuals outside, if we wasn’t able to communicate with them, and if [we] was provided access, would be able to assist us in doing. And the second part in terms of transitioning your programs from prisons to outside communities, specifically for the program that I just mentioned to you guys, the second part of our program was designed as, you know how they have the adage where they say “From school, to pipeline to prison”? Well, we built on that and we reversed it, “From prison, to employment”, in terms of having beauty salons and barber shops do a, I would say like, an honors program where they would be willing to assist, and agree to accept, former incarcerated individuals and [give] employment opportunities if they was able to leave from the institution with licenses. 

In that regards, we have that section, and it’s part of the society pipeline from prison to employment program, whereby barbers and barbershop owners, [and] companies throughout the state of California, that believe in social and community equality, that’s willing to partner with the RBVTP programs in providing jobs and opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals who will be certified and licensed by the NIC [National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology], which will in turn reduce crimes, recidivism, including redirecting taxpayer funds, allocating society’s most precious asset, sweat equity, in a more effective and equitable way through a tangible and direct source of employability, hands on training, establishing occupational skills, thus employment, becoming a contribution to society. Barbers are so much more than their occupation. They are sounding boards, confidants, ? counselors, friends, institutions of fellowship, and cornerstones of the community. Barbers and beauty is essential. It’s deeply rooted in the fabric of our lives, and the staple of America’s identity, which is figuratively an evergreen of all society, the gift that keeps on giving. 

Now the last topic is predicated around making amends. How do you envision the conference topics assisting you in this process? Well in and of itself, providing service or providing a means by which one can use employable skills, being at the forefront and\or a part of something of that nature, is one of myself. I live in amends. It allows me to build on my redemption, on my forgiving process, and it allows society to see that [I made] a mistake and made some bad decisions in my life; that just possibly, I may be worthy of a second chance that some, or all, may not feel that I’m worthy of. However, be that be the case, I will continue my life efforts, my life works in showing amends and providing for individuals that’s in my personal and private community here inside of Solano State Prison. And if I could be assistance in society of broad (?), it would be an honor and a pleasure. Thank you for your time and your consideration.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.