|Posted on April 5, 2015 at 3:15 PM|
Exonerated Inmate Returns to Folsom Prison to Fulfill a Dream
Franky Carrillo, who served 20 years for a crime he didn’t commit, returns to Folsom State Prison to visit his former T’ai Chi Chih classmates at their 3rd Annual Banquet and Retreat, and share in their practice.
Sacramento,California (PR MediaRelease) March 30, 2015
T’ai Chi Chih is a T’ai Chi/Qigong hybrid that was created by American T’ai Chi Chuan master Justin Stone in 1974. It quickly became popular and is now taught by thousands of instructors, worldwide. Julie Heryet has been teaching a weekly T’ai Chi Chih class as a volunteer inside Folsom Prison since November of 2009. It was there that she met Franky Carrillo, one of the inmate-students in her class. In 1991, at the age of 16, Franky Carrillo was arrested in Los Angeles for a drive-by shooting; a crime that he did not commit. On March 14, 2011, with the help of attorney Ellen Eggers, the Northern California Innocence Project and Pro Bono attorneys from Morrison and Foerster, Franky’s conviction was overturned. After serving 20 years in prison – all of his adult life – Franky was finally released. During his time at Folsom State Prison, Franky participated in the weekly T’ai Chi Chih class that was held in the prison chapel. During class he often dreamed of being able to do his T’ai Chi Chih practice on the outside, as a free man. There was a tree on a hill across the American River that he could see from the prison yard, and he pictured himself beneath that tree on the hill. (See photo)
On Tuesday, March 31st, Franky Carrillo is returning to Folsom Prison to visit his former classmates, and attend their 3rd Annual T’ai Chi Chih Retreat and Banquet. After sharing a meal in the prison, Franky will leave the grounds and head for that tree on the hill across the river, and his dream will become a reality. He will be joined by a group of T’ai Chi Chih teachers, students and friends on the outside, and at 2:00, they will form a circle and begin their practice. At the exact same time, Julie Heryet’s class of 22 inmates, will form a circle and begin their T’ai Chi Chih practice on the inside. This event is being called: CIRCLES OF LIGHT. The International T’ai Chi Chih community is so inspired by Franky’s story, and by the dedication of the men in the class at Folsom Prison, that at 2:00 Pacific DST, there will be groups joining in this practice from various cities all over California, as well as in Atlanta, GA, St. Paul, MN, Albuquerque, NM, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and even London, England! The Annual T’ai Chi Chih Banquet inside of the prison is fully funded by private donations from teachers, students and friends of the T’ai Chi Chih community.
Teaching the T’ai Chi Chih class at Folsom Prison is, according to instructor Julie Heryet, “An incredible experience. Qigong and Tai Chi have been proven to decrease stress and help with chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and other stress-related illnesses. The prison environment is the ultimate testing ground for the effectiveness of this practice. The men in my class are dedicated to healing and finding peace. Also, meditation programs have been proven to significantly reduce recidivism rates. So everybody wins when we have programs like this one.” Of Franky Carrillo, Heryet says, “The amazing thing about Franky, is his grace. Even after all the time he lost, he chooses to live a life of forgiveness, rather than carry the heavy burden of bitterness and anger.” Franky received a full scholarship to Loyola Marymount, where he is currently a student.
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