Second Life

Sentenced to life for drug smuggling, George Martorano spent decades in prison with no hope for release. Then John Flahive answered his call.

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In the meantime, Martorano continues his two-decade-old routine: Wake up at 6 a.m.; shower; practice yoga; drink a cup of coffee; perform his duties of cleaning phones and water fountains; jog around the prison yard; eat a salad for lunch; prepare curriculum for his creative writing class and then write for the rest of the night in a closet he has converted into an office.

On Tuesdays, he teaches his creative writing class; on Thursdays, he works on reuniting estranged fathers with their children through writing letters and assisted visits.

"These guys [in prison] can't understand why I keep trying, why I haven't quit," Martorano says. "The only thing I can tell them is 'Use me as an example.'"

Flahive and the We Believe Group continue to assist inmates and their families with transfers, medical visits and legislative updates, as well as helping other prison reform groups with letter-writing and phone campaigns. Flahive will visit Washington, D.C., in August to push for the Second Chance Act.

"I'm not going to change the world; I know that," he says. "But I'm going to let as many people along the way know that it's wrong."

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