Thomas Winfrey

Quora Profile
Class of: 2013
Crime: Second Degree Murder with Gun Enhancement
Sentence: 25 Years to Life

My early childhood was spent growing up in Southeast Texas, but around age eight I moved to the Los Angeles area with my family. Growing up in Los Angeles was difficult for me because I continually felt as if I was not accepted. The perpetual feeling of being unworthy of acceptance lead me to drug abuse, a problem I struggled with for many years. I became more extreme in my behavior as the drug abuse continued and as I struggled to find my place in life. Eventually I associated myself with the fringes of society in the drug community, which distorted my morals. This behavior and my insecurities in life translated into me taking a man’s life.

At the age of 19, I was incarcerated for murder, and my problems in life did not cease just because I was locked up. I continued to struggle with drug addiction for my first ten years of incarceration. Eventually I came to a resolution in my life I wanted to change by behaviors, and make a life for myself instead of allowing my behavior to be dictated by my surroundings. I cleaned up my act, started attending college classes, and began to explore the reasons that led to my dysfunctional behavior. Now in my sixteenth year of incarceration I finally feel secure about who I am, and what I want to be in life. The journey to this point in my life has been rough, but I respect the fact that it has shaped me into the individual I am today.

Undoubtedly, the biggest motivator in my life has been education. I graduated high school while I was on the streets, but I honestly don’t think I gained much from it. When I was in the county jail, I read the first book I had read since I was a child, and struggled with it. I began to read to entertain myself at first, but eventually I began to seek out books on history, philosophy, psychology, and religion. At the first opportunity I had to attend college courses, I jumped at it. I earned a Certificate of Business from Coastline Community College in 2009. In continued to attend college courses through the Prison University Project and I am currently enrolled in a sociology class. I hope to earn my Associates Degree soon, and I look forward to earning at least a Bachelor’s Degree one day I have also attended vocational welding and sheet metal certificates to date.

I have also gone through, and participated in self-help groups that help to educate me about my behavior in life. I have completed three different courses in Non-Violent Communications, which taught me to see situations through others perspectives. I am currently in VOEG, TRUST, and SQUIRES. VOEG allows me to explore the reasons behind my past behaviors. TRUST runs workshops that turn liabilities into assets. SQUIRES is my way to give back by mentoring at risk youths. I realize at this juncture in my life my heart will always belong in a classroom, it is where I feel most at home.

Life Goals:
My life goals are to earn a Bachelor’s Degree earn my freedom, raise a family, and live a normal life outside of prison. I don’t have a desire to own fancy cars of a mansion in the hills. I just want to be at peace with myself and those around me.

What I hope to gain from The Last Mile:

I hope to gain insight into how businesses operate in the real world.  Learn some basic computer skills, which I am severely lacking right now. Build my own personal brand, and develop a support team that will assist me in life.

Motivation for Participation:
My motivation for participation in TLM is that I was able to see the last class during Demo Day, and they impressed me immensely. I was proud that day, because I felt like these guys represented us in such a positive manner they might have actually changed the public’s perception of what an incarcerated individual is capable of. I intend to work hard, and put in more effort than is required of me to succeed in TLM. My expectations are that I exceed my intentions.