Mercedes Brown, author and activist, at the Long Beach head quarters of All of Us or None, an organization that helps formerly incarcerated people re-enter society. She wants to further her organization, N 2 Life Foundation, a counseling program for those who are re-entering society from prison. She came to All of Us or None to seek help in expunging her own arrest record from nearly two decades ago, something she must first do before her counseling program can be certified. She said her brother and son, who also spent time in prison, motivated her to start her counseling program.
”My brother has been in prison for 40 years, and I love my brother so much that I got my education because of him. I said that as long as he stays in prison, I’m going to be in school, and I realize that he’s been in prison much longer than I could ever be in school.”
“My oldest son, I believe, went to prison because he saw his uncle in prison, and he was the only male figure in the family my son could relate to, so my son made up his mind at a very early age that he wanted to go to prison to be with his uncle; fortunately, they never ran into each other in prison. He did his time over there. My son did his time.”
“It’s been very difficult for him as far as coming back into the community and society and just be able to be clean and sober. It’s almost next to impossible when everyone you see is sitting around drinking beer and smoking weed and doing whatever else they do to waste time, make time go by, so that’s been his struggle, I believe. He’s not actively using drugs today, but I say the alcohol is worse than the drugs, so I say ‘what’s the difference?’”
“If you can’t go to school, if you can’t find a job, if you can’t find housing, what are you going to do but self-medicate to make yourself feel better? Even though it’s hurting you in the long run, it’s helping you to be able to maintain your sanity maybe from minute to minute.”
“I want my counseling program to address issues like anger management, domestic violence, substance abuse prevention, building healthy relationships, coming back to society and learning to tap the resources that’s available.”
“I’m helping take care of my son who’s been trying to reintegrate to society for the past seven years, and he still doesn’t have his foot through the door, so that’s my passion, to help those who need that help and that guidance.”