Ernie Garcia is a compassionate, caring man, yet he grew up in a world where violence, stabbings, shootings and physical beatings were the norm. Although he was born into a stable and loving Christian family and was the oldest of 5 children, due to an unforeseen circumstance, gang life and revenge became his new family and place of comfort at the age of 12.
Through his journey from gang life to juvenile hall to Chino’s Men’s Prison to a successful, contributing member of society, his story is one that should be told and retold. It should be held up as reference for today’s youth who are faced with the same challenges, to use as an example of what is possible and, for those adults who have fallen so far, as a beacon of light.
After 29 years of incarceration Ernie drew on his faith in God and in what he saw as a way to finally contribute something positive and good to the society he had previously fought to tear down. A prison program called ‘Prison Letters for our Struggling Youth’ and his reaffirmed faith started him on a path of recovery for both his mind and soul.
Upon release from prison, Ernie applied and was accepted into Rise Up Industries' (RUI) 18 month prisoner reentry program and successfully completed all required courses and was able to apply for a job as a Certified Machinist. Ernie is the 5th graduate from RUI’s program which teaches previously incarcerated individuals to learn an important trade and become financially independent, regain a feeling of self-worth and stop the cycle of violence. Ernie’s strength comes from God who has shown him that the greatest sense of value that one can possess is by being of service to others.
He currently serves on the Rise Up Industries Alumni Advisory Committee. He is fully employed at Computer Integrated Machining and has been there 2 years. He is an accomplished artist (see rendering below). He has shared his story and inspiration for a better life at numerous speaking engagements since early 2019.