Hustle 2.0’s programs are developed by experts with decades of experience designing rehabilitation programs for people with criminal histories, and H2.0’s Homies – a team of incarcerated co-authors and artists
MEET H2.0’S HOMIES
We’re the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated co-authors of Hustle 2.0. California has us on the books as some of its top gang leaders. All 15 of us have done time at the state’s only supermax: Pelican Bay State Prison. We’ve been incarcerated for a combined 329 years of our lives. At one point, many of us were fierce rivals.
Gang members are raised in a “til the casket drops” culture—meaning there hasn’t been a way out of the gang life—and nearly all members enlisted as teenagers. We all realized the old way of thinking wasn’t working. And we knew much of the incarcerated population wouldn’t care for a curriculum written by people who have never walked a mile in our shoes.
In 2019, we partnered with the founders of Hustle 2.0, whose vision was to recruit the most influential gang leaders to transform gang culture and create safer communities. At Hustle 2.0, we’ve joined forces to use our voice and influence to create peace and opportunities for the next generation.
When the H2.0 Homies started meeting, we challenged each other with the question: “If you died today, why would your life matter?” Many of us were not happy with our answers. We saw Hustle 2.0 as an opportunity to be known for more than how many years we served in the SHU and refused to allow anyone else to tell us who we are.
We pushed each other out of our comfort zones and discussed things that were taboo, including domestic violence and childhood trauma. Many of us united around the crazy and controversial idea of creating the first-ever real path to freedom and transformation— a way to leave the gang life. The plan, called Squaring Up, was co-authored by some of the top gang leaders at Pelican Bay. Now, people who have felt as if they didn’t have an alternative have taken steps away from the gang and criminal life.
Spreading Hustle 2.0 could be our greatest contribution to this world.
Click on each photo to see the H2.0 Homies’ credentials
A.K.A. Sweet Freddy
ALFRED SANDOVAL, known for most of his life as Chato, has now taken the name of Sweet Freddy. He’s been incarcerated most of his life, from boys’ homes to Death Row.
He was five days from execution when his sentence was commuted to life without parole. He spent 32 years in the SHU, but despite all he’s been through, he keeps a smile on his face. With all his experience, he wants to help the coming generations do better than the last.
Sweet Freddy loves to laugh, even if it’s at himself – which is often. He’s a great-grandfather, and even though he looks old and out of shape and doesn’t look very nimble or quick on his feet or like he would enjoy exercise… he’s surprisingly decent at sports.
Sweet Freddy always sings happy birthday to people on their birthdays, so we try not to let him know when ours are. Once in a while, when he makes a good play on the handball court – a very rare occasion – he does a little dance. Well, he dances when he loses too so… yeah.
A.K.A. Sweet Grandpa
JOHN JACKSON, formerly known as Tex, is originally from San Antonio, Texas. Although he’s far from being a senior citizen, we call him Sweet Grandpa because he’s hip as any grandpa – his dancing skills included.
He spent 18 years incarcerated, earning himself four SHU terms before coming to Pelican Bay. John earned his GED, a certificate from Baylor University, and has led networking events in prison attended by some of the world’s top executives and investors.
You should know that he played the trumpet in junior high, where he specialized in making fart sounds. Sweet Grandpa proudly declares to everyone he meets that he knows all the lyrics to The Sound of Music, but no one questions him, because no one wants to hear it.
After paroling from Pelican Bay in 2019, Sweet Grandpa was hired to work for Hustle 2.0. He now spends his time writing – specializing in fart jokes – and extreme skiing (or what he calls skiing… it’s really just him cart-wheeling down the bunny slopes.)
He’s leveling up his leadership by participating in altMBA, an intensive online workshop created by bestselling author and entrepreneur Seth Godin.
Little John Perry
LITTLE JOHN PERRY, formerly known as BJ, now proudly embraces his H2.0 name, Buttercup. Hailing from South-Central LA (Athens Park), Little John is far from “little.” He’s 6’3”, at – what he claims is – 300 pounds even.
He’s spent over 23 years in prison for murder, with eight of them going back and forth to the SHU. CDCR validated BJ as a member of the Athens Park Bloods Street Gang in 1994.
Buttercup is happily engaged to his lovely fiance. He met her by sharing some of his coursework from Hustle 2.0. This is no joke! He can’t stop talking about it.
Despite his alarming size, Buttercup is actually a big softie (just don’t say that to his face). He, too, like Sugarcane, enjoys motorcycles – it’s just too bad they don’t make sidecars that are bigger than the bike, otherwise, they would have a lot of fun. Buttercup also likes to cuddle, and since he can’t do it with his lady, he has a pillow that he pretends is her (we feel sorry for that pillow…).
JACOB AMA, formerly known as C-nut, is now called Sweet Sugarcane. He’s 54 years old, and his signature raised-eyebrow, crazy-eyed stare is still intact, and though still very disturbing, it no longer scares people.
Originally from Compton, he came to prison in 1987 with a sentence of 26 years to life for murder. He’s spent over 13 years in the SHU. CDCR (the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) validated Jacob as a member of the Park Village Compton Crip Street Gang in 1986.
Jacob says he would wish for superhuman strength, but have you seen the guns on this guy? He’s got 50-inch forearms, so think what his biceps must look like. When he’s at work as an education porter, he sings as he cleans, usually off-key, but who’s gonna tell him? Not us!
Sweet Sugarcane is a nice guy once you get to know him. As a kid, his family called him ‘coconut’ because he was always climbing and falling out of trees.
a.k.a. Sweet Owl
DARRYL BACA, formerly known as Night Owl, is now known as Sweet Owl. He was sentenced to 17 years to life in 1981. He’s spent 32 of his 39 years of incarceration in the SHU.
He’s used his time to earn his AA in Social and Behavioral Science. CDCR validated Darryl as a member of The Mexican Mafia.
Darryl is old enough to have met Charles Manson way back in 1885… or 1985. Sweet Owl is 59 years young, but has never once worn a suit and tie. Only prison jumpsuits and handcuffs.
Sweet Owl hoots every night for the love of his life, who he’s been with for more than 20 years. This just proves that he’s a big softie with a kind and caring heart. He also clings to a poem from his mother (RIP), who gave it to him back in 1995.
Darryl is now using his leadership and senior citizen status to mentor young men and promote change with his brave and outspoken writings in Hustle 2.0.
THABITI SALIM WILSON, who was widely known as Lil T-Way, but who is now famous as Fudgy, has been incarcerated for 21 years. He’s done eight SHU terms, but refuses to let violence define him. Today he is a college student and is committed to helping others on their journeys of transformation.
Thabiti swears he’s allergic to 98% of the environment – old cellies can attest to his constant sneezing for no apparent reason (maybe he’s just allergic to bullspit??). He is also deathly afraid of bees. Once, he got the yard put down because he was running from a supposed bee attack, but later realized that it was just a fly.
Fudgy is really a big sap who likes to watch romance movies – he and Sweet Butter Pecan would make quite the duo (Fudgy Sweet Butter Pecan?). Fudgy is also a twin… and he’s a mama’s boy who melts like sweet chocolate whenever he talks to her. Grudgingly, Fudgy reveals that his mom’s nickname for him is “luv bug.”
A.K.A. Sweet Chewy
JESUS MURILLO, now known as Sweet Chewy Cookie Dough, has been incarcerated for 13 years, three of which were in SHU.
While in the SHU, Sweet Chewy Cookie Dough won an entrepreneurship competition with his idea of creating and selling cards, showcasing the art of incarcerated men. He amassed entrepreneurial skills from life before prison, helping his family to operate a home business that became a retail store.
Jesus grew up on a farm, where he raised animals. (His nickname should be El Ranchero.) He also played softball for eight whole years, even once earning an award for MVP. In his free time, Jesus likes writing poetry because it helps him to escape.
As a young boy who always wanted more presents, Sweet Chewy Cookie Dough started the tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa every Christmas… until last year, when his cellie made him stop. Now, instead of attempting to win Santa’s favor, he shamelessly cupcakes with his wife every chance he gets.
CHRIS SUCCAW left behind his former name of EC Looney and has taken on the new moniker of Sweet Butter Pecan. He’s done 16 years of a 57-to-life sentence. After five years in the SHU, Chris decided to make a change. He is now a college student and an executive member in numerous programs.
His family calls him Mookie, and for one soup, you can too. Sweet Butter Pecan used to use his mother’s old handbag as an imaginary garage for his Hot Wheels. Furthermore, his mother dressed him in an Indian skirt to go to school one day… No wonder he ended up in prison.
Despite his mean mug, Sweet Butter Pecan couldn’t help but shed a tear or six while watching The Shack – just think what would happen if he watched The Notebook.
Because of his journey of transformation, Sweet Butter Pecan was transferred from a maximum-security prison to a lower level prison. He misses his fellow H2.0 Homies, but is working on kicking off a Hustle 2.0 program at his new facility.
EDDIE NAPOLES, once known as Speedy, has taken on a new handle, Sweet Gummy Bear. He’s served 14 years of a life sentence for first-degree murder.
He has since earned his GED and is enrolled in college, working on his AA in Business. Eddie has helped others who are incarcerated earn their GEDs and move on to higher education.
Sweet Gummy Bear tears up whenever he watches chick flicks. He also loves giving and receiving tender bear hugs, and his grandma still calls him Fuchilas, or “Stinky,” because he used to run around with a dirty diaper.
Since Eddie joined the Hustle 2.0 Homies, he has stepped his game up and changed his dirty diaper, becoming a great writer. He has authored great testimonials on addiction and recovery and has written amazing poetry.
ABEL TORRES, previously known as Malo, now known as Fuzzy Koala Bear, was born and raised in Compton. At 11, he joined a gang. At 17, he was arrested for murder. He’s been in Pelican Bay since 2001, spending more than 10 years in the SHU.
He now has a passion for learning. He has earned an AA and is currently working on his BA.
Abel, the nerd, has a comic book collection of 150+ comics – mostly of Wonder Woman. He also plays Dungeons and Dragons whenever he can, and often loses touch with reality – he thinks he’s a green dwarf right now.
Fuzzy Koala Bear organized the first-ever Cancer Walk at Pelican Bay in memory of his son who died of cancer. He helped raise more $1,200.
RALPH TRUJILLO, formerly known as Sonny, now goes by Sweet Monkeypants. He’s no spring chicken, but he is the freshest member of our Writing Team.
Sweet Monkeypants has been incarcerated since 1995 and has served a total of 24 years in the SHU. He has been confirmed by CDCR to be a member of the Northern Faction. When he got out of the Pelican Bay SHU in 2018 and came back to the mainline, he was a little shy about all the bearhugs going on in Hustle 2.0, but now Sweet Monkeypants is huggin’ everyone in sight.
Hustle 2.0 stole his sweet name from his wife. She said that in one of their first visits, Sweet Monkeypants was leaning like a cholo up against a fence wearing clothes that were two sizes too big for him. He wears socks up to his knees and boxers down to his ankles. Our guess is that he’s waiting for a flood. At least they’re two sizes too big instead of two sizes too small (no one needs to see that). Sweet Monkeypants is really into fashion and dressing as sharp as possible. He still creases his boxers and socks and rocks a mustache so long he must lift it up above his lips to eat.
A.K.A. Sweet Candy
CECIL SAGAPOLU, formerly known as Monster, now lives up to being Sweet Candy. He’s 37 years old. He stands at 6’1” and 254 pounds, though he can’t emphasize enough that he isn’t “fat,” he’s just “big-boned.”
He came to prison in 2011 at age 29 for second-degree murder and got 25 to life. This is his third term; he’s done about 20 years behind bars, starting at the age of 15 … and he’s never been out longer than five months. The best gift Cecil ever got was his freedom, though he must not like it very much since he keeps re-gifting it.
His favorite time period was the ‘70s, when there was peace, love, happiness… and his mullet was actually acceptable (not very good-looking, but acceptable).
Sweet Candy likes Shrek because they look so much alike, and, like Shrek, he doesn’t care how people see him; it’s what’s inside that counts. He also has a very intense fascination with Pocahontas, mainly because he’s jealous of her hair (guess the mullet left him scarred, after all).
A.K.A. Sweet Tamale
ARTURO CASTELLANOS was as skinny as a board growing up, so his dad called him Tablas, and the name stuck. He’s now known as Sweet Tamale.
Today he feels like a spring flower in bloom after spending 32 years in the SHU. He came to prison in 1980 with a 25 to life sentence for murder. CDCR validated Arturo as a member of The Mexican Mafia.
The best day of Arturo’s life was the end of the 60-day hunger strike, which he celebrated by eating not one but two Top Ramen noodles (after so long, even a butt-naked soup tastes gourmet).
Along with eating Ramen, his simple pleasures include laughing at random things and watching Baywatch (Why? Do you have to ask?) and The Big Bang Theory (“Bazinga!” exclaims Arturo… yeah. He’s that guy.). Sweet Tamale admires his dad, despite the bowl cut the man gave him when cutting his hair (this is why he opts for a bald cut now).
The best gift he ever got was a visit from his mom while he was in the SHU, but he was so hungry during the visit that she began morphing into a burrito, his favorite food.
H2.0’s Rap Sheet
Our collective experience has earned us the trust of both gangs and corrections systems, uniquely enabling us to rehabilitate people with prevailing histories of gang involvement and violent crime.
H2.0’s founders previously created Prison Entrepreneurship Program and Defy Ventures, two nationally recognized rehabilitation programs, which have served thousands of people with criminal histories and achieved recidivism rates of less than 10% since 2004. Our programs have incubated 500+ small businesses started by formerly incarcerated grads and helped countless others land jobs. H2.0’s team is in this for the long haul.
H2.0’s team consists of:
- 5Trauma experts
H2.0’s Homies, our incarcerated co-authors and artists. They provide testimonials, artwork, and case studies that bring to life our evidence-based curriculum.
Since joining H2.0, I see myself as a new, better, and improved man.
Having completed over 20 programs in the past nine years of my incarceration, none of them has had such a positive and powerful impact on my life as Hustle 2.0 does. I’ve always seen myself as a reserved person; antisocial, and stuck trying to impress and meet other people’s perspective. But H2.0 has allowed me to overcome that. I now can be myself… not worried about how people judge me, and I am not afraid to show emotions in front of others, because I now understand that’s what makes us human. H2.0 has pushed me to want changes and to face them head on without backing down, wavering, or compromising my commitment. I used to think that I will die in prison and may never see my freedom, being on a GP yard, but I realize now that I have hope and my chances of going home can be high, even on a GP yard. I must be my own leader, account for my own actions (be it good or bad), and stay focused on learning, growing, and investing in my full-time efforts.”
– Francisco Limon
Hustle 2.0 has far exceeded my hopes and expectations. I have gained so much useful knowledge in the last year and a half and feel so much better about where I am in my rehabilitative process.
This program has allowed me to engage and grow with other like-minded individuals. The courses on board readiness have been especially helpful. Learning to really explore my causative factors has not only helped me learn more about why I committed my crime, it has also helped me to learn more about myself. I have discovered emotions I didn’t know were there. I am a deeply empathetic person and I credit Hustle 2.0 with helping me to nurture that. This program has already had such a tremendous impact on my life, and I can’t wait to see how it will help me continue to grow. This program has helped me become more of a help to others around me which includes both inmates and correctional officers. Courses like Premeditated Positivity have helped to influence me to step outside of my comfort zone and interact with individuals I normally would not. I have led people that I would not have even talked to a few years ago. I have helped C/O’s get through difficulties they were having just by sparking up a conversation, something I was not prone to doing. I credit Hustle 2.0 with encouraging me to be of service to all, not just those that look like me.”
– Thabiti Wilson
Since joining Hustle 2.0, the insight and maturity level I’ve gained from sticking with this program has been so powerful.
I’ve been incarcerated for 20 years now on a level 4 yard. Before taking the Squaring Up course, I had a one-dimensional mindset based on morals and values in line with streetism. Not until my introduction to H2.0 have I experienced such motivational speaking and enthusiasm from staff! From the raw openness to heartfelt storylines I can relate to, and the trials and tribulations in the success stories from people like and unlike me, I’ve felt them all. I was lost on these yards living by a so-called “G-code” that has had nothing but a negative effect upon my life and family. After hearing the stories from the older homies at Pelican Bay who set the tone on these yards, and learning how they’ve sacrificed so much to come to the realization that their past contributions were of no substance to a cause that in all honesty brought about destruction upon the people they subconsciously said they’re looking out for. For them to have come to the realization that Squaring Up will have to be a fundamental part of their life to bring about change was something that touched me deeply.”
– Victor Cole
The Hustle 2.0 courses and information provided gave me confidence and endurance in my preparation to articulate on numerous topics and issues concerning my life crime with the parole board.
The lessons navigated my understanding of the different stages my life has taken. It has formatted my reentry and relapse prevention planning to be successful if I am afforded suitability to parole. Courses pertaining to: criminal thinking or behavior, entrepreneurship, domestic violence, squaring up, preparing a job resume, preparing a cover letter for a job, anger management, accountability and commitment, victim awareness, life mapping, gang evolution, mindset, leadership & management, healthy relationships, reentry planning, the power of habit, and my favorite – parole board readiness, are all key elements in me being successful in not returning to prison. It has equipped me with information and necessary insight to platform my learning with creditability and conviction. Hustle 2.0 is second to none in comparison to any other program I’ve been associated with. It allows participants to plunge deep into their creative thinking and respond with realistic ideas and answers. In all fairness, Hustle 2.0’s curriculum has been exhilarating and demanding in challenging participants to elevate their minds to the highest plateau of comprehension and storing information. Hustle 2.0 overall is a program where an incarcerated person can find their purpose in life and figure out exactly what type of legacy they want to leave behind.”
– Jacob Ama
Personally, my thinking has changed drastically. I have a lot of time left on my sentence and before Hustle 2.0 I was always of the “who cares” mindset.
I felt I had so much time that I didn’t care what I did, or what happened to me. Now, however, I am viewing my time from a whole new perspective. I no longer involve myself with the criminality I thought was just part of life in here. Instead, I choose to use my time to better myself and educate myself. Now instead of viewing the time I have left as dead time, or a waste, I’m using it to prepare for the eventuality of going home! I have repaired my relationships with my family and now I know I have so much to offer them. I am sincerely there for them! This all has to do with Hustle 2.0’s courses on Healthy Relationships. Since I’ve been enrolled in Hustle 2.0 my whole family has noticed the changes in my attitude and they love it. Now, together, we all share hope for the future. And it’s a future that I am very much a part of!”
– Joshua Balistreri
I’m grateful for the awesome insight, wisdom, and experience shared with Hustle 2.0. This gives me and my community direction on where and how to focus our rehabilitation efforts.
Most incarcerated men have an opportunity to go home one day, whether it’s a determinate sentence, through board, the courts, or even a commutation, and I feel saddened when this opportunity is wasted with little to no rehabilitation. Hustle 2.0 is invested in changing the landscape. Meaning we’re educating the incarcerated population on making a healthy transformation to earn their freedom and be contributing members of society. I went from being a taker to a giver as a result of Hustle 2.0. Before H2.0, I never had plans to come back to prison as a volunteer. Now, this is one of my goals. In fact, there’s a tribe of Mavericks that want to come back as testaments to this community that when we put in the work, we can succeed. My family has seen the changes in me since I’ve been with Hustle. They’re amazed at how I went from a criminal to promoting this program. When I see Mavericks on the yard, we give out bear hugs and get in our bubble about books, family, life on the outside, and our pursuit of education, amongst other topics. One person called me a “program guru”, that was a first :). I’ll admit, this label is better than the ones I used to carry. I share these moments because this is what our curriculum has allowed me and others to become. I’ll never forget what one of our Mavericks told me. “We used to be just surviving in prison. Now that we’re gaining purpose, we’re learning to live.”
– Jesus Murillo
My relationship with my family has improved and my outlook upon relationships had a 360 cleaning due to the Healthy Relationship and Domestic Violence courses that helped me identify certain aspects in my dealing with family and women in the past.
During my visit with my mother in 2019, I had to address all the pain I’ve caused her throughout my youth and adulthood. Even though I understand the unconditional love a mother has for her child, as a mature man, the acknowledgment has to be met head-on to establish forgiveness. I never physically abused anyone in my relationships but after taking the Domestic Violence course, I realized I was both an abuser and victim of domestic violence! I learned the many different forms of abuse that can be experienced during relationships. My new outlook has enabled me and moms to get into a routine of writing or calling every two weeks, and I’m getting to know my mother on a personal level. Once the time comes, I know my relationship with anyone will be of a healthy nature.”
– Victor Cole
Hustle 2.0 has shown me the steps I must take in order to pursue the new goals and dreams that I now share with my family and friends.
Growing up, my life was motivated by my gang involvement. My way of thinking, my expressions, and my beliefs were all conductive to my sense of belonging with my gang. This was the type of misplaced loyalty during my teen years which allowed me to justify the criminal behavior that I saw all around me. It’s impossible to control all of the circumstances that occur in our lives, but we can control what we become as a result of them. Hustle 2.0 has provided me with the knowledge and skills necessary for seeking out and accomplishing future goals, such as finding meaningful employment, commensurate with my training, and possibly starting my own business. More importantly, the Parole Board and Squaring Up courses have given me a new perspective on life, which has given me the strength and courage to look inside myself, dig deep, and become aware of my criminal thinking. I am proud to say that I have since taken steps to separate myself from criminal activity. Hustle 2.0 has shown me the steps I must take in order to pursue the new goals and dreams that I now share with my family and friends. It has also motivated me to get involved by reaching out to others and giving back to those in need. Thanks to the Hustle family, I have been able to surround myself with like-minded people whom I can confide and share my progress in these goals. This program in so many ways has brought meaning and value to my life. I have accepted my past. I also accept my present circumstances with hope and purpose for the future. The process of transformation takes time. I’m willing to trust the process and transform into a positive version of myself. I am deeply committed to this journey, for now and always.”
– Trenton Dukes