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America wrestles with an incarceration problem, imprisoning its citizens at five times the rate of other comparable countries. The human and economic cost is staggering, yet the problem seems to be getting worse.
State Raised tells the heartbreaking story of Natividad Mendoza who has suffered a lifetime of pain. As a young boy, he experienced horrific abuse and was cast aside by both his family and society. Before the age of fourteen, Natividad was forced to be a mule for the Mexican drug cartel, lived alone in the mountains of Mexico, and witnessed horrific murders. By the time Natividad was a young adult he had a drug habit, was a feared gang member, and had a significant prison record. He spent eighteen years cycling in and out of prison until he was finally released for the last time in December 2003.
However, this is not only a story of rejection and debauchery. It is also a story of redemption. Since his release, Natividad has dedicated his life to helping men and women who are trying to climb out of their own pit of despair. He knows what it takes to lift people out of the endless cycle of recidivism, and he created a program to help: From Gangs to Jobs.
It is not enough to talk about the problem of incarceration. It is time to take action. Listening to people like Natividad, who found a way out of the cycle of recidivism, is an imperative first step.