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Interview with Alton McSween of the California Reentry Institute

Ashleyanne Krigbaum

This story most recently aired in the 12/1/22 Crosscurrents episode.

Alton McSween found employment after his release mentoring other formerly incarcerated people through the California Reentry Institute. McSween goes by the name “Coach” -- a throwback to his days coaching high school track. That was his job back in 1992 when he got his first two convictions for burglary. In 2001, he was arrested for petty theft, and got 25 years to life under the state’s three strikes law. Last year, McSween was among the first group of offenders to be released from prison under California’s Prop 36, which counts only serious crimes -- things like assault, murder, rape -- as a third strike.

"When you parole, you have to parole back to the community, the county, in which you committed your crime. And they might not know you changed, so they might not accept you until they’ve been around you a while. Or they might not ever accept you again. So have to be able to deal with that.”

Click the audio player above to hear the entire interview.

Ben joined KALW in 2004. As Executive News Editor and then News Director, he helped the news department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today.