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Father and son reunited in prison

Under CC license from Flickr user foreverdigital

KALW has partnered with radio producers inside California's oldest prison to bring you the San Quentin Prison Report, a series of stories focusing on the experiences of these men, written and produced by those living inside the prison's walls.

Ron Everett has been incarcerated almost 31 years. Everett was arrested soon after the birth of his son, and their relationship became estranged over time.

“When I first got incarcerated, he was 2 months old,” Everett says. “I talked to him frequently between the ages of three and five. His mother passed away of a rare blood disease when he was five years old.”

After she died, Everett lost contact with his son. It wasn’t until 20 years later they ended up serving time at the same prison.

“It was kind of strange because we was on the same facility, passing each other and had no knowledge of him being there or me,” says Everett.

Everett didn't even know what his son looked like, not having seen him since his child was two, but his son heard rumors that his dad was in solitary confinement.

“He heard that I was in the hole, a rumor, and got into an altercation to get to the hole to be my cell, to see me,” says Everett.

But, it wasn’t just an altercation. Everett's son initiated a race riot in order to get put into the hole and meet his father for the first time. They spent his 21st birthday as cellmates. That's how father and son began to develop a relationship.

Everett says “it was beautiful for me in a way” but also strange because his son only knew him from stories. “He had questions about his mother that he didn't get to talk to because she passed away when he was five.”

They stayed up at night talking and eventually built a bond, but Everett says there was a communication gap for a while, given that his son was attached to his gang affiliation.

Everett didn't know anything about the hardships of his son’s life until one strange encounter as his cell mate: “While I was laying down one night after coming from the showers I noticed his scars.  That was a part of him growing up by himself, without his mom or me being in prison and just being with his grand-folks on the streets. He pretty much raised himself in the streets.”

Everett learned the importance of fatherhood. “Fathers that are confined should do whatever they have to, to be in their kids life and talk to them on a regular basis if possible,” he says.

Everett's son was eventually transferred to another prison, so they aren't physically close but Everett says the five years he spent getting to know his son transformed his life.

“It changed me to the point that I started loving myself,” says Everett. “For a long time I didn't love myself. It's a growing process because it's new to me. I'm almost 60 years old and I spent most of my life confined.”

Everett is hoping to be released soon and his first priority is to get to know his grandkids and make sure to end the cycle of incarceration for his family. 

This story was based on an interview conducted by Antwon Williams for the San Quentin Radio Project. Listen to more stories from San Quentin here