Instructors with a Personal Passion to Help Incarcerated Men Change at Marana

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“For me the satisfaction is to see in them that they are understanding what I’m teaching & that they’re going to apply it and they’re going to use it in their lives.”

Miguel Chinchillas is one of many instructors at the Arizona State Prison-Marana with a passion for his work.

“It’s a privilege to me to be with them. It’s a privilege to be able to do something for them; to be able to teach them, to be able to just talk to them. Also, it’s seeing how the conversations that we have, how they change the way they think.”

Miguel’s background includes a fascinating history with baseball and sports broadcasting, but one of his greatest loves is touching the lives of those he teaches.

“They were living a life where they made mistakes and committed crimes, but they come into the class with us and understand the beauty of what can happen in their lives. And I have joy in that.”

Robin Abrams-Ryan is another example of a Marana programming instructor who is passionate about the work she does. A few years ago, Robin’s husband who also worked at Marana, passed away. Much of the healing that she has since gone through, Robin has channeled toward her teaching.

“Yeah, I do that with the inmates, I tell them my story. And the reason I tell them is because all of us struggle every day. And it’s important, because even if you make mistakes, and you fall down, you can still get up and there’s a good thing that’s gonna happen out of it. And the more you share your story, the better you feel, and then you feel like you count for something or someone, and it just makes you feel better.”

Robin has found wisdom in one of the last things her late husband told her, just before he passed.

“He said, ‘be firm, fair & consistent; have respect for them, and they’ll have respect for you’. I just live by that, and I try to teach them that, too. So, I’m like, ‘you guys, if you want to be a good person and a good man, be firm, fair and consistent, and have respect for yourself, because you know what? Respect will come to you.  But you got to give it first.’”

“My husband said, before he died, ‘I just want the best for you’.  And I tell the inmates, ‘I just want the best for you’. And maybe they’ve never been told that. And I think it’s really important that we all go around saying, ‘I just want the best for you’. So, that’s kinda where I’m at. I feel like I’m changing lives. And it’s also helping me.”