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2,700 CMC inmates take part in inaugural A Day For Atonement event

California Men's Colony
Posted at 5:37 PM, Apr 21, 2023

The California Men's Colony held the inaugural “A Day for Atonement” ceremony Friday as the start of a three-day fundraising event in support of crime victims and restorative justice programs.

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow was the keynote speaker at Friday morning’s event and bore witness to the presentations regarding the impact crime has on its victims.

Inmates will compete in three days of intramural sporting events through the weekend, including a walk for peace this Sunday, April 23.

Inmates were given the opportunity to speak on their crimes, sentences, as well as share their grievances and regret about how their actions have caused harm to others.

Inmate Jonathan Duke founded the event and is now part of the Offender Mentor Certification Program, which allows inmates to be certified drug and alcohol counselors.

Duke has been serving a sentence for second-degree murder and was granted parole last month for his behavior.

“I couldn't say that I was truly in recovery without going against that type of mindset and that type of thought process,” Duke said. “So that was really where the heart was at, but I also wanted to bring it to other people to show there is a space where you can change. There is a space where you can begin to atone and make living amends.”

Voluntary donations of $5 or more were accepted from the 2,700 inmates participating. According to a representative of the California Men’s Colony, more than $5,200 was raised for Restorative Partners of San Luis Obispo.

Bertha Fonseca, whose son had been incarcerated up until 2020, as well as two other victim speakers at the event, wanted to inform those about the sacrifices and the emotional damages families suffer behind the scenes.

“I believe that anything that happens in our lives, if we share it for the glory of the Lord, will make a difference and allow what happens to us to be shared,” Fonseca said. "When we share, we heal, and we help others to heal also.”

“I think it starts here like what we did today, having people come from the outside… it helps to have the District Attorney, to have programs like the Victims Awareness Program,” Duke added. I really would like to see the positive ripples made not only with us in here, but also in our communities and in society, in the world as we know it.”