Brian Brim’s perfect day would begin with a golden brown Belgian waffle topped by two eggs over easy, followed by a walk on the beach in Montreal, water touching his toes while he watches the birds fly free in the sky. He might bring a book with him to read; some of his recent favorites include The Power of the Subconscious Mind and The Autobiography of Dick Gregory. But most importantly, he’d be surrounded by his family and friends, especially his four children and his grandchildren.

Since his incarceration, opportunities to see or speak to his loved ones have been rare, though he keeps in touch through letters and emails. He says what he misses most about life outside is physical closeness with the people he cares about most: late-night talks with a friend, hugs for family in difficult times, walks in the park to enjoy the sunshine.

Brian grew up in Watts, California as the fifth of seven children. He watched his parents struggle to make ends meet, and the situation became especially dire after his own father was incarcerated when Brian was in middle school. Like his siblings before him, Brian had to work part-time throughout high school to contribute to his family income, but dropped out after his first daughter was born. Even working full-time to support his growing child and family, his wages weren’t enough to cover expenses. Brian turned to selling drugs, hoping it would be a temporary solution. Unfortunately these actions led to Brian’s conviction in 1996. He was given a life sentence without parole.

Brian is now 56 years old. Through rehabilitation programs, he’s obtained certifications in typing, real-estate, and finance and completed courses in diabetes, spirituality, health and wellness, and self-esteem building. He enjoys mentoring younger men who are new to the criminal justice system.

After over 22 years behind bars, Brian has still not given up hope.

Two decades spent reading and studying, from Sherlock Holmes to real estate investment, have helped cultivate his profound respect for education. “Stimulation of the mind creates and nourishes a great person,” he tells his children.

Not only does he strive to be an example for his children and grandchildren, but the other, younger men in prison as well. When he sees a man with only ten or twenty years for a similar offense, he attempts to be a person that will positively affect them when they return to society, warning that “this is not the life to come back to.”

Brian works hard to be a loving and caring person with respect for all mankind.

Each day in prison he strives to learn something new, even if it’s just a small tidbit from the news, to share with his family. His happiest moment was the day his son went to college. He dreams of reuniting with his family outside prison walls.

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