Straight Talk –
May 09, 2018 – While in prison DeLeon pitched an idea he had to the Department of Corrections. The idea was to have kids hear from other kids who had been in prison. It was to bring the inmates out to the kids, in a respectful consequential way. “The best messenger for a kid to listen to another kid would be kids that have suffered the consequences,” DeLeon says. “So, you take some of these kids that are in prison, out in their prison jumpsuits, to talk to kids in school.” While in prison, DeLeon helped start Project PRIDE (Personal Responsibility in Drug Education). As part of the initiative, inmates went out to area schools to talk about the consequences of drugs and their own personal actions. Watch Michael DeLeon on ‘Road to Recovery.’ DeLeon thought Project PRIDE was such a useful tool to reach today’s youth that after he got out of prison he started calling schools asking if he could talk to their students. DeLeon thought Project PRIDE was such a useful tool to reach today’s youth that after he got out of prison he started calling schools asking if he could talk to their students. But being a former inmate meant that it was difficult for anyone to take him seriously. “They didn’t want the ex-con to come and talk to their kids about anything,” says DeLeon. “I’m the last person they wanted in their school. I can’t be a teacher, I can’t be a coach, I can’t be hired by a school district. I’m a felon. If they do a background check they won’t hire me.