Actual letters from students who attended Training Center presentations at San Diego State - Dr. David Gauss Psychology & Criminal Justice

Meghin Bagai wrote:
Sometimes people get caught in the wrong way of thinking which leads to breaking the law, and although Iím not saying this is acceptable, I do believe that people deserve second chances. It was extremely inspirational to hear these men tell their stories about how far theyíve come through this program. Itís amazing to me that a person who has fallen to such a low point of drug use and breaking laws can not only stop that way of life, but can stay sober and have a normal life with a family. Dennis is a really amazing person. He not only stopped this criminal way of life himself, but also helped to start this rehabilitation program in order to help others as well. This by far was one of the most interesting classes Iíve ever been to, and the presentation changed the way I view both convicts and the prison system.
Bibiana Ojeda wrote:
Dennis along with the other speakers that have experienced hardships because of their choices such as Joe Vasquez, Marcus, John, Larry, and William, are examples of how a life can be shattered and turned around by a choice and their choice alone. Their stories are all different, but they each talked about how they were the ones that made the choice to live a certain lifestyle. Although they blamed others in order to justify their lifestyle, the only way they were able to change their situation was by sincerely wanting to and by admitting that they were the ones responsible for their choices. The speakers and their stories are examples of how a person loses sight of who they are, and what is important when it comes to addictions. Change is not easy, but it is possible when it is truly wanted and worked for. During this presentation the speakers also stressed the importance of having rehabilitation programs available for those who need assistance in the process of changing their life. When someone wants to change it is important to have a positive support system such as a family or a rehabilitation center for them to turn to, instead of a negative sense of belonging and support found in drugs and crime.
Brandon Holtzer wrote:
The speakers were very passionate about their stories, and they believed in the program that they were a part of. It was a very eye-opening experience for me, because I realized that people can change. The reason I began to realize this was because of Marcus and the story he shared with us. Marcus told us he was an ex convict and used to be a member of the Crips gang. If he could change then anyone can. Marcus went to jail three times and he hated the law and cops because a cop killed his father before he was born. Marcus said that jail, the criminal justice system, and more particularly the rehabilitation program changed him. He is proof that anyone is capable of change. Overall the presentation was very eye-opening, and Iím glad I got to be a part of it.
Eunice Gonzalez wrote:
Marcusí story made me realize that no matter what a person has done in the past, change is possible and sometimes a greater force can be the answer to the cry of help. People make mistakes and as humans we all tend to make the common mistake of judging others by their actions. Rather than judging, we should try to understand them. Rather than out casting them from society maybe we should reach out to them and give them that hope that they are looking for. Inmates are human beings, they make mistakes but like everyone else, they are hoping to learn from their mistakes.
Caitlin Walker wrote:
I think that what these men have started is a great opportunity for many. Joe, Dennis, Larry, and William have all started something worth funding. They too have made long strides in their addictions and are putting their strengths into productive tasks, because they saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and are willing to extend a hand to those in need. Before their speeches, my reaction to inmates has always been negative. After the presentation, I tip my hat to theses men for all of the progress they have made. All of the men who spoke at the presentation had interesting criminal backgrounds and I was especially appreciative of their willingness to share their stories. I am grateful for the opportunity to see this presentation and I am glad theses men were able to change my opinion, and show me that anyone is capable of change.
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