From Life without Parole to Strategist with Washington State Office of Public Defense

Community Activist and Founder of Taking Education and Creating History (T.E.A.C.H.)

I am Kimonti Carter, a 2nd Chances at Work Ambassador, Community Activist, and the Founder of Taking Education and Creating History (T.E.A.C.H.), a prisoner self-education program supported by APDS.

At the age of 18, I was sentenced to life without parole and spent 25 years and three months of my life in a federal prison. During this time, education became my lifeline.  It became the catalyst that propelled me to become a leader, mentor, and teacher. The remarkable transformation I experienced, both personally and professionally, reaffirmed education’s critical role in reshaping lives. Today, I want to shed light on the profound importance of education in breaking the cycle of incarceration and bridging the employment gap.

Addressing Educational Barriers 

During my time behind bars, I experienced firsthand the numerous barriers incarcerated individuals face in accessing education. In prisons across the United States, incarcerated individuals are often denied access to educational services if their sentences exceed a certain duration. This denial of education perpetuates the cycle of incarceration and limits opportunities for personal growth. To combat this, I founded T.E.A.C.H., uniting individuals from diverse backgrounds and promoting education as a means of social liberation.

The Transformative Power of Education 

Education was the key that unlocked my freedom. During my life sentence without the possibility of parole, I transformed my life and my circumstances by utilizing education to become a leader, mentor, and teacher. Leading T.E.A.C.H., a prisoner-led higher-education program, was vital to my release and transformation. Education provides individuals the tools to overcome systemic barriers and create lasting change.

Creating Lasting Change through Education 

Recognizing the need for educational reform within the prison system, APDS offers innovative curriculum solutions co-created by formerly incarcerated teachers like myself. By incorporating engaging digital experiences and focusing on personal growth, APDS  bridges the educational gap and empowers justice-impacted learners with the skills necessary for successful reintegration into society.  It is a tool I wish I had had, and those that remain incarcerated need it too.

Closing the Employment Gap

Education should encompass more than just academic knowledge; it should provide practical job skills and career training for incarcerated individuals. Closing the employment gap is crucial for their successful reentry into society and reducing recidivism rates. APDS is leading the way by preparing justice-impacted learners for sustainable careers and economic independence.

The transformative power of education cannot be overstated for individuals seeking a second chance at work after incarceration. By breaking down educational barriers within the prison system and providing comprehensive career skills and employment training, we empower justice-impacted individuals to successfully reintegrate into society and break free from the cycle of incarceration. 

Join me in advocating for 2nd chances, where education becomes the catalyst for liberation, offering everyone the opportunity to thrive in their careers and lives. Together, we can create a future where no one’s past defines their potential.

Take action today and sign the pledge to support 2nd Chances at Work!

Kimonti Carter serves as an educational consultant and curriculum creator at APDS. He is also the subject of the award-winning film, Since I Been Down, which illustrates the societal conditions that lead children to gang violence, the personal transformation that is possible through accountability and healing, and the liberatory power of education. 


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