After decades in prison, Renaldo Hudson uses art to advocate for change

Renaldo Hudson was nineteen years old when he was sentenced to death for killing an elderly man, L.K Peterson, in an attempted robbery. Renaldo now feels blessed and free to be home after being released from prison after thirty-seven years.

Renaldo’s life had been filled with endless trauma that began with the death of his identical twin. He was sexually abused and then shot by his sixteen-year-old brother, who also slain his family. As a younger man, he turned to drugs to cope with his tragedies but now finds power in his paintbrush.

Renaldo found transformation in isolation and learned about how to treat others with kindness and compassion. One day, he picked up a paintbrush and began learning about art therapy. It changed his life and helped him feel a sense of self-worth. He earned certificates and degrees in art and built relationships with other inmates. Renaldo then joined Jennifer Sobel to launch the Illinois Prison Project, which uses art to give hope and purpose to inmates. The program allowed him to grow and learn so much that Jennifer helped him receive clemency, leading to his release from prison.

Renaldo now works as the Education Director for the prison that once held him as an inmate. He teaches everyone around him daily about the immense potential for good and the ability to radically change despite your circumstances. Renaldo is an inspiration for using art to bring hope, purpose, and peace to other inmates.

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