TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A reformed inmate is reconnecting with his children in Florida for the first time in 25 years.
Michael Baldwin spent the last two and a half decades in a California prison after he was arrested in 1992 for a drug and assault-related incident. He credits his ongoing rehabilitation and the transition back into his children’s lives to his participation in prison programs and especially his having access to a digital tablet.
“One of the biggest things I learned is the power of choice and its effect on our lives,” said Baldwin.
Baldwin, who is now in his 40s, will be the first to tell you he’s learned from and paid for his mistakes.
“When I was committing a crime, I wasn’t just committing a crime against some people, I was committing a crime against my babies, my family. The same day I went and robbed someone, I was robbing my children too. I was robbing them an opportunity to have me in their life,” said Baldwin.
Thanks to the progressive programs of Securus Technologies, Baldwin was given a digital tablet while behind bars. He says the device gave him a sense of freedom and reconnected him with his loved ones, including his son, Michael Baldwin Jr.
“It gives you that reassurance that you get to see him, talk to him and hear his voice,” said Michael Balwdin Jr.
“We know who he is, but we don’t know him. I look forward to building a relationship and getting to know him better,” Michael’s daughter Jasmine Baldwin added.
Jade Trombetta with Securus Technologies tells 8 On Your Side that their digital tablets are helping to transform inmates.
“Incarcerated individuals can send and receive emails and videos from their friends and family, enjoy media and receive free education. So when they are ready for re-entry, they are equipped with the tools they need and they are proud and ready for the next chapter of their lives,” said Trombetta.
Baldwin says he has a lot to learn about the world he left for 25 years. His number one priority now is to become reacquainted with his family and to help expand the availability of communication tools for inmates.
“We really want to take a look at secure technology inside so that we can reconnect gentleman and women to their family and friends before they are released,” said Baldwin.
Since Baldwin’s release, he has worked full time as a legal assistant for the law firm that represented him. He is also involved in several local non-profits and prison reform advocacy groups.