Alumni Spotlight: Javier Jimenez

By Bonaru Richardson | November 30, 2023

MTC alumni Javier Jimenez was released to the small town of Tracy, CA on March 16th, 2020. Despite not being able to walk the stage that year with his classmates because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he recalls saying,“ I’m just glad to be free.” However, on March 18, Javier found that Tracy had closed operating buildings with businesses at half capacity. “I did not have the opportunity to apply for a job, get a license or a social security card because most government buildings closed down two days after I was released from prison,” Javier said.

He was searching for employment and housing upon reentering society but soon realized that his support network group could not help him either, as the programs they were working with had shut down.

Javier stated that he visited 15 different apartments and eventually ended up buying a trailer to live in because nobody would rent him an apartment or a hotel room. “I went to one of those hourly hotels on Wilson Way in Stockton and they asked if I had a felony and refused to rent me a hotel,” said Javier, explaining that the person at the hotel started to question him because he had no identification to show them at that time.

“My parole officer tried to get me a job and help, I guess, but I didn’t receive any,” said Javier. He started selling bicycles on the marketplaceFacebook – and that’s what sustained him for eight months until he finally got a job through his friend. “If it wasn’t for my mom finding an old washed-up social security card, I don’t know what I would’ve done.

”He printed a copy of his social security card, which was so old it was barely legible, and placed it in Photoshop like he has done many times as the photographer for San Quentin News and darkened the numbers. He told his friend what he had done.

He said that his friend knew that he couldn’t use a copy of his social security card to hire Javier, but he hired Javier as an Operating EngineerWater Tender anyway.

Javier stated that he acquired the skills he used to fix his social security card in Photoshop from his passion: photography. Javier graduated from high school in 1995 and started college in 1998 where he took a photography class in college.

“I never really paid attention in college to photography, but I knew I liked it,” Javier said. He said he finds taking pictures peaceful. “It’s my Zen and I want to make memories and capture them. I’m trying to leave my memories behind.”

Javier said that his interest in photography peaked again when he became the photographer for San Quentin News. “When R.J. Mickelson from the San Francisco Chronicle came inside the San Quentinnewsroom, I was amazed at all the information that he taught us.”

Javier said that R.J. taught him about shutter speed and apertures. “He was our Internet at that time, and he brought me all the information I needed to become a professional photographer and I still have his material today. I just started an Instagram and a Facebook page so I can show my work. I would love to become a photographer and leave my digital Imprint on this world.”