A photo of Enrique Bautista, Alexis Tadeo, and Adam Davis in the XRAY FM recording studio, looking at the camera.

Taking Accountability with Enrique Bautista and Alexis Tadeo

In this episode, we are excited to share a conversation with Enrique Bautista, a writer and 2024 Community Storytelling Fellow, and Alexis Tadeo, an illustrator and tattoo artist. Both Enrique and Alexis recently moved from the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem back to the relative freedom of civilian life. Much of what they talk about here is their lives in prison, and more specifically, about their efforts to build relationships and collaborate with a broad and diverse group of people in prison, as they, along with a fellow inmate named DePrince Hale, worked to develop the Taking Accountability Group, or T.A.G., which provides at-risk youth tools for better decision-making. 

Show Notes

Enrique Bautista is a writer, artist, facilitator, peer recovery mentor, and fitness trainer living in Woodburn, Oregon. Enrique was released from Oregon State Penitentiary on July 7, 2023, after serving twenty-one years for a crime he did not commit. His case was overturned on appeal last year, and he is currently in the process of litigating for compensation for wrongful conviction. Enrique is a cofounder of Taking Accountability Group, and his goal is to develop the organization into a success-story-making machine. He is a devoted father and husband to his 23-year-old daughter and his wife and best friend of twenty-five years. He is also a 2024 Community Storytelling Fellow and will be contributing stories about various communities in and around Woodburn throughout the year.

Alexis Tadeo is an artist and facilitator who lives in Eugene. Raised in Red Bluff, California, at an age where it felt normal to engage in the gang lifestyle, Alexis went from good grades and scholarships to prison at the age of eighteen. He served fifteen years out of an eighteen-year sentence for a self-defense shooting, in a state where self defense doesn't usually apply. 

While in prison, Alexis honed his artistic skill, where he established and taught an airbrush class, which would become the reason for his early release from prison just one year ago. Since his release, he has become a business owner, creating Real Eyes Inc. LLC, where he specializes in airbrushing. Alexis is a TAG facilitator and has become the proud mentor that he desperately needed growing up. Alexis hopes to make a difference by sharing his story and empowering creative minds in Oregon to expand their self worth and to discover their talents and passions.

Enrique's writing can be found in the following publications:

In 2023, Taking Accountabilty Group hosted an art show, titled "Just Unlock My Potential (JUMP)",  at the Woodburn Art Center. 


Enrique Bautista: I don't, I don't mean to sound crazy or nothing, but I love myself. The man that I've become, and I'm still working on myself. I'm a hundred percent satisfied with who I am today, in spite of what I've been through, what I was. That's always going to be a part of me. But to anyone listening out there, your past actions do not have to define you.

Adam Davis: Hello, and welcome to The Detour from Oregon Humanities. In this episode of The Detour, we are excited to share a conversation with Enrique Batista and Alexis Tadeo, two Oregonians who recently moved from the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem back to the relative freedom of civilian life. Much of what Enrique and Alexis talk about here is their life in prison. And more specifically, about their efforts to build relationships and collaborate with a broad and diverse group of people in prison, as they, along with a fellow inmate named DePrince Hale, worked to develop the Taking Accountability Group, or TAG, which provides at-risk youth tools for better decision making.

Let me say that again in different words. Toward the end of their time in prison, in prison. Enrique for 21 years and Alexis for 15 years, Enrique and Alexis and DePrince were working across differences of race, status, role, and more, so that young people on the outside could learn from the experience of people on the inside.

They believed those on the inside could commit together to a positive vision for the relationship between their incarcerated community and the communities those in prison had left behind, and hoped, in some cases, to return to. I should also mention here at the outset that Enrique is one of seven Oregon Humanities 2024 Community Storytelling Fellows, and, as you'll hear, he's a writer.

Alexis is an illustrator and tattoo artist. While I talked with Enrique and Alexis on one side of the plexiglass window in the X Ray Studio in North Portland, Enrique's wife and daughter, and Alexis girlfriend, sat with their engineer, Kyle Gilmer, on the other side of the plexiglass window. And everything about the conversation, from the physical space to the emotional space, felt thoroughly present, relational, and loaded with significance. Here are Enrique and Alexis now. Enrique, Alexis, thank you for joining us here in the basement of the XRAY Studio for The Detour with Oregon Humanities. Maybe one way to start is like, you drove up for this. Enrique, where'd you drive from?

Enrique Bautista: I came from Woodburn, Oregon.

Adam Davis: How long have you been living in Woodburn?

Enrique Bautusta: That's a tough one. I don't know if you know, but I just got out of prison like, 10 months ago. I was incarcerated for 21 years. So I guess. I've been living here for 21 years.

Adam Davis: And you were incarcerated where?

Enrique Bautista: Mostly OSP, that’s in downtown Salem. Adam Davis: Downtown Salem. So not so far from Woodburn Enrique Bautista: No, not at all.

Adam Davis: But probably feels different saying you live in Woodburn now than would have sounded 11 months ago.

Enrique Bautista: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Adam Davis: All right. And Alexis, where are you?

Alexis Tadeo: So, I'm a little bit all over the place. I paroled after 15 years to Woodburn after doing 15 years pretty much at OSP in Salem as well. Now I'm moved to Portland, but I have family that live in Eugene, so I bounce around from here and there and stuff, so I'm pretty much just mobile.

Adam Davis: Okay, so you got the good Friday afternoon traffic, because you're hanging out with family in Eugene.

Alexis Tadeo: Absolutely, man. Definitely hate the traffic here.

Adam Davis: Yeah. So, we'll get back to questions like 21 years, 15 years, what it feels like being out, all that, but in a way, I wondered if it made sense to kind of start by talking a little bit about some of the work you're doing together, and specifically with TAG, with Taking Accountability Group. Okay. And I wonder, like, can you just maybe say a little bit about how it started and what you hope it most is?

Enrique Bautista: So, the Taking Accountability Group. Uh, started at the Oregon State Penitentiary, and it was an idea that came out of necessity in someone's life, and that someone's name is DePrince Hale. He's actually the founder of the Taking Accountability Group. He had a near death experience in 2016. He was in isolation for a while. During that time, he took it upon himself to reflect on his life and, um, his entire life. He's serving life in prison right now. And, he wanted to contribute to the community and be a part of the solution and no longer the problem. So, he took the initiative. He brought me along for the ride.

And at 2020, we managed to break down barriers and collaborate with people that we would normally not have anything to do with in prison. There's a lot of politics, politics and, you know….

Adam Davis: Division, Division

Enrique Bautista: Lines that you don't cross. So we, you know, just to sum it up, we managed to do that. We created a group of like-minded individuals that wanted to work together towards the same goal, which is our future. Kids are our future. And, you know, most of us come from a gang background, you know, we live the lifestyle and we wanted to do something about it. So we created the Taking Accountability Group.

Adam Davis: So I'm going to ask a few more questions because you said it briefly, but it actually sounds like a huge achievement and a lot of work.

Alexis Tadeo: Oh, absolutely.

Adam Davis: Yeah. Yeah. Um. When you think about the work it required, Alexis, what are the kinds of things that you had to do to...

Alexis Tadeo: Oh, it's nonstop paperwork. Filing, getting people to petition you, getting the club members to come on board and jump on it or piggyback off their structure. Because there's a select few that run the activities floors.

And the activities for the OSP is different clubs like Lakota, Culture Clubs, different, you know, um, Seven Step, Lifers Club. So they pretty much run all the clubs and then they have their own structure and politics for that as well, but it's like all the do gooders. But they kind of like, it's a lot of talk and they don't show.

Adam Davis: Yeah.

Alexis Tadeo: So people like us, we come in and it's like, this benefits us as well because we're the ones impacted by the stuff that goes on in prison and the stuff that the guards do against us or we do against ourselves. So we're the ones pushing the line on the outside stuff. So when it comes to certain stuff like this, for someone like us to come in and be like, Hey, We're stepping in now, we want to do something pro social, pro-active, and it does not just benefit us, but it benefits the whole community of the prison population. And not only impacts inside prison, but it touches the streets.

Adam Davis: So let me ask. You said 2020, that was getting started.

Enrique Bautista: It started in 2016. 2016. That's when the original curriculum was written by DePrince, but, uh, in 2020, end of 2022, that's where it all started, like. Taking shape and actually turning what it is today.

Adam Davis: So what does that mean? It started taking shape. What was happening?

Enrique Bautista: Like you said obstacles, barriers, non-believers, administration. The prison administration—they're the ones that say what goes on in prison with the clubs and all of that. So there was a lot of pushback when we decided to create the Taking Accountability Group. Make a group where like- minded individuals would get together and create a curriculum that we could later bring to the streets for the kids, not for the prison population.

Adam Davis: So in prison, you're getting people together to develop curriculum. for young people out of prison.

Alexis Tadeo: So that they don't follow in our steps and be in there with us.

Enrique Bautista: Yeah, that was the main objective. And we managed to do that in spite of the pushback from the administration, the nonbelievers, people who thought we were trying to use the system to get together, to politic, to do all of that. And you know, we did what we said we were going to do.

Adam Davis:. And you did that across lines and divisions that were normally there?

Enrique Bautista: Yes,

Alexis Tadeo: It's unheard of to have active gang members trying to do something pro-social, not just for the prison population, but for the street and, and the kids as well. It's just unheard of. It just doesn't happen.

Adam Davis: Yeah. How'd you do that?

Enrique Bautista: An…..

Alexis Tadeo: Idea?

Enrique Bautista: Yeah, but, yeah, I want to say it was more of, it was the right time, the right place, the right people, the right thing. And people's willingness to to be part of the solution. There's something greater than what's already there. You know, mind you, most people in there, including myself, my life was prison. My entire adult life was prison. 

Adam Davis: From the time you were 18.

Enrique Bautista: I'm 40 now, I've been out for 10 months, like I said earlier, and you know, most people in there, us, you know, with the prison politics, you're fighting over a bench, you're fighting over a table, you're fighting over things that are not yours.

Just like on the streets, you're fighting over a street, a number, a color. When you grow up mentally, not only, you know, in age, but when you mature and you start realizing that what you're doing is not really what you want to do. You know, you start changing, and then, you know, you kind of meet somebody like him where, you know, you're on the same page, you want to change, and then you start seeing the vision. I saw DePrince's vision, and that's something that I wanted to do. So that was the initiative.

Adam Davis: How did you see DePrince's vision? I'm wondering, like, literally on a day to day basis, how does that idea that you just mentioned, Alexis, how does it spread?

Enrique Bautista: So, Okay. We keep talking about lines and division and you know, we segregate ourselves in there. The racial lines are the thickest in prison. DePrince is a Black man. I'm Hispanic. I'm Mexican. My affiliations are different. So it took a level of maturing, learning, and letting go of all beliefs, ideals and stuff like that to actually start seeing him as a man and vice versa. So I kind of… we actually met in the chapel, out of all places. In 2012, you know, I see him at this program, I see him at this group class. We just gravitated towards each other. We got to know each other. And next thing you know, we became friends.

Adam Davis: Which was unheard of… you met him at the chapel. You were seeing him at different places. Started crossing some of these lines that were there, which itself is maybe unusual.

Alexis Tadeo: Yeah, absolutely Yeah, cuz you don't socialize with other people outside your race unless it's for a particular reason It's usually the reason is not a good one So to come together to to not just bond and befriend each other but to Build upon each other and push forward together as one like that's that's just unheard of like you don't do that And if you when you start to do that, there's consequences. There's usually backlash. There's pushback. There's there's a lot of kind of stuff…. :

Enrique Bautista: Negativity that goes along with it.

Adam Davis: So how do you deal with that stuff?

Enrique Bautista: You know, a lot of people want to distance themselves from, from…the word, “leader” or “leadership.” In prison, that is not a good look. Out here, it has a different meaning. A different meaning. It's a good thing, you know, leadership.

Adam Davis: It's not good in prison because it sounds like you're selling out or something like that?

Enrique Bautista: No, it sounds like, like anything happens, you're the one responsible. So nobody wants to be labeled a leader or somebody that….

Alex Tadeo: Shut up, or whatever.

Enrique Bautista: Like somebody's going to listen to you, that you have pool people, no, you don't want to be…. If you're a person of influence, you're wiped off, you know. You're targeted, not by the inmates, but like, staff.

Adam Davis: People running the place. Yes,

Enrique Bautista: Exactly. Okay. So it kind of took a little bit of that to be able to put myself in places and situations where it was okay for me to do certain things. Not as in, I'm doing something behind someone's back. I'm talking to this dude when I, when I'm not supposed to. It came more, in the shape of changing views. Like actually seeing things for what they are. Like this is really not important.

This, this means nothing, so it's okay, if that makes any sense.

Adam Davis: It does. I mean, sounds risky.

Enrique Bautista: Yeah, but like I said, when you're in a position, there's a hierarchy. You know, there's a pecking order in prison, you know. I really don't want to get too much into that, but there is. You know, if you have status, you know, you can get away with things that you wouldn't. You got more leeway.

Adam Davis: Now, can I just ask one, you said you didn't want to get into it, so tell me if you don't want to go here, but I, in a way, I heard you talk about two different kinds of hierarchy so far. One seems to be within the inmates, and then there's the staff. Yes. And, is there a pecking order with respect to both?

Enrique Bautista: Um, I guess, yeah, in a way.

Yeah, but so if we focus on, on, on the inmate population, you know, when you're up here and you have some status, you know, uh, let's say you're the one that can make decisions, you know, and, and, and sometimes it's for the greater, you know, it's kind of like, would you like your taxi driver to be drunk at the wheel when he's taking you somewhere?

No, you want somebody who's going to get you there safely, right?

Adam Davis: What's the equivalent decision that that person with status would be making that would affect other people in the inmate population? Anything,

Alexis Tadeo: Anything, you go any kind of way, regular day and stuff, and you decide to mouth off at the wrong person and that destroys everything.

I see. So it's like every little thing that you do, you're not yourself. You're representing something else. Bigger than yourself. So when it comes to that, it's just kids to touch you. Like it's, you know, what's……

Adam Davis: Yeah. Okay. And so you talked about how you met DePrince. Yeah. How did you two meet?

Enrique Bautista: We were cellies. He's my cellmate.

Adam Davis: Yeah,

Enrique Bautista: It's it's uh….

Alexis Tadeo: It was a while back. It was way back.

Enrique Bautista: Yeah, it was.

Alexis Tadeo: It was tattooing. And it was all, you know, just chilling. But he actually put me on though, he put me on to knowledge, put me on to curriculums, classes, and I wasn't doing nothing with myself besides going in and out of the hole and stuff. It got to a point where I was just like, you know, all I want to do is just draw, tattoo, and better myself in a way, and I saw him with all the things he was doing, and I was like, yo, how'd you get that?

Enrique Bautista: I actually learned a lot from him too, though.

Alexis Tadeo: And mainly It was all the banquets and stuff. I'm not gonna lie when you're in prison for a long time And you get all these exclusive chickens and burgers and stuff. He'd be coming home with all kind of– be like, man, where'd you get all this stuff? He's like man, You got to come on to this class and they got food and we'll do this and that. I'm just like I'm there, yeah, that got me hooked and then I caught the bug and I was just like damn I actually learned something I could actually use this and apply this not just in a civilized manner, but in the prison structure and stuff like that. So it started being like knowledgeable stuff. Yeah. And I was like damn….

Enrique Bautista: It's just about bettering yourself, you know? And it's funny that he said he picked up something from me, but all he ever did was draw and he's a phenomenal artist. So I, I'm, I'm an observer, you know, I pay attention. I'm like, damn, how, how you do that?

You know? So I learned a lot from him. So that just goes to show that everybody has something to bring to the table. Mm-Hmm. A lot of the times we don't see that.

Adam Davis: And how long were you cellmates?

Enrique Bautista: Uh, not long a while though. It was, it was enough for me to get a feel. Yeah. You know, for, for, for him and his character and years later, you know, he's something, somebody that I want to be around because I know what he's got, what he's capable of. And I brought the program to him and, you know, it was a wrap.

Alex Tadeo: I jumped on board. I didn't even question it. I was like, sign me up. He's like, we're doing this. And I said, look, it don't matter what you're doing, I'm into it. Like, I'm all for it. I'm on the same boat. My mindset, I'm more mature to the point where I'm able to think not just for myself, but for the world. For the next kid or for the next person in line and stuff and how it's going to benefit them in the long run and stuff. And yeah, some things that we do… don't, we don't see the instant gratification at the moment, but when we see kids and they graduate or they do this, or they get a job or they get sponsors and stuff like that, then it's like, yo, we did that. That's what we do.

Adam Davis: Which is a hell of a feeling, I would imagine.

Alexis Tadeo: Oh absolutely it’s like when I give, when I do, it's like when I go to my drawings, right? Somebody asked me for a drawing or a tattoo of a lost one. Yeah. I'm like, yo, can you, can you please do a drawing of this? And I'll do it.

And I give it to them or I tattoo on them and they're like, you brought this person back to life.

That feeling, that emotion that I… it's kind of hard to explain. Mm hmm. You get that same feeling when you touch these kids and stuff and like they do something and you're just like damn I had a part to play in shining light to this kid or bringing their potential to light and that is just a high in itself. It's like a drug.

Adam Davis: So you referred to the program before. Let me ask you a little bit like what is the program? Someone who doesn't know what it is.

Enrique Bautista: Okay. So, it's actually a 10 week program And mind you, this, the Taking Accountability Group, the vision is huge. We have what we call the big picture.

So we're in the early stages right now. Even though I've been out here functioning, networking, meeting people and doing the most we can, is nonstop. Like you said, we…

Adam Davis: Ten months is not a lot of time.

Enrique Bautista: Not a lot.

Adam Davis: So, yeah.

Enrique Bautista: You know? So far we have a ten week program. We talk about three different topics.

We talk about things like culture, identity, you know, stereotypes, things like that. And the basis of that is just to get a conversation going. So imagine a group of kids, and I want to rewind a little bit before, I don't want to jump around too much. When we created the program, it was more out of necessity.

After a lot of soul searching in my life in prison, mostly in, uh, isolation, you know, being segregated for years, I did a lot of, we both did a lot of, time in the hole. I came to realize that what I needed growing up was somebody like me. And there was no one like me. You know, people would try to help, but it just wasn't the right words, the right time, the right person

I needed someone like me. So, everyone that took part in creating what we have now–The Taking Accountability Group–came to that understanding, you know, what is it that you needed? So when we were working together, trying to put this together, it was about picture yourself at 13, 12, whenever you started messing up, you know, what would you say to that kid?

You know, so that's what I asked myself. What would I say to myself? What did I need? And you know, that's how we came together, decided what topics to cover and basically when we have our classes, we just want to create an environment that's safe where the kids that we work with or work for, are okay feeling vulnerable and opening up. We try to get them started on the path of healing.

Adam Davis: Where are the kids? At school? Where are you working with them?

Enrique Bautista: You know, we work on referrals. There's different organizations like Safety Compass or Human Trafficking Task Force. We go to a lot of meetings, we network, we meet people, they hear about the program and they reach out to us.

Adam Davis: And so, anywhere around Oregon that there might be young people who are–now I'm asking in case people who are listening might want to connect– Is there an age group? Is there a geographical region that people should have in mind?

Enrique Bautista: Well, right now we've covered Portland, Woodburn, Salem, Keiser, Eugene, Springfield.

We have some people that have been supporting in Medford, Madras, Hermiston, places like that, right? So as we grow and we develop the program, more is needed. It takes more to sustain what we have so far, and, you know, to be effective, we need volunteers. So every function we go to– every, every, every, every time we get an opportunity to talk about the program– now the conversation is a little bit different.

They're not so much about this, what we do, what can we bring to the table? How are we switching it up a little bit? Like we need help, you know, not, not just financial help, but we do need help. I can't be in three places at the same time.

Yeah. And like I said earlier, everybody has something to bring to the table.

So as far as, uh, age group or whatever. We do have criteria and, the way we've been functioning and operating so far, we do an assessment. For example, this lady from The Safety Compass, it's an organization in Salem, she reached out to me. Told me about this kid that she's been working with.

She thought it would be a good fit for our program, to approach him and talk with him. Like, whatever they were doing wasn't working, so maybe this would work. I ended up contacting the kid's probation officer. Told her about the program. We made the necessary introductions and whatnot. And I did an assessment.

So he was a perfect candidate. I met with him today. And, you know, I'm starting to see a pattern. Most of the kids that we work with need something that they're not getting at home. And nine times out of ten that is a role model. Nine times out of ten. That's a lot.

Adam Davis: So when you're meeting with these kids, when you get to know them a little bit, does it make you think about yourself at 13 or 15?

Alexis Tadeo: Oh man, all kinds of things make me think about myself. Movies, shows, like people walking down the street. Sometimes he'll be saying something and I'll be like, man, I remember this or I remember that. And, you know, where my mindset was, was just complete chaos and anger and stuff. But that's due to the circumstances surrounding my life and my childhood and upbringing and stuff like that.

And I was just an angry kid. At 15 I watched my brother commit suicide in front of me. And that like destroyed me. I didn't want to feel nothing for nobody. I didn't want to like you. I didn't even want to love, the family that I did have. I pushed away because I did not want to go through that same pain of losing somebody so close to me that was…I thought was my twin because we were raised in that manner and stuff.

So for me, when I hear stories, when I see movies or I see, I hear a kid like, Hey, I'm going through this. I'm just like, damn, like it resonates. Yeah. We relate to that. We could tie it. And then that's where we like clinch to that and like, look, I know exactly what you're going through,

Adam Davis: Right

Alexis Tadeo: And then, then we tell them a little bit of our story and then they're like “what?” Like that's what I felt and then that's where the seed begins and stuff and that's where we start a bond and the next thing, you know, we're talking about cars and women and you know, all this other stuff and next thing, you know, there's the ice break, you know, it's, it's, we're on a plane level, there's no adult or kid, we're just us. Connected as people.

Adam Davis: Yeah. What's been hardest about getting this going and growing since you've been out? What's the hardest stuff and maybe along with that, what's been most satisfying, but let's take a minute with the hardest stuff first. What's been the hardest?

Enrique Bautista: So, uh, I'm going to take one second to think about that and then I'm going to say the time has been the hardest.

I have a lot of catching up to do. I spent my entire life in prison. There's a lot of things that I didn't get to do. I have a family, I have a wife, I have a daughter. And in a lot of ways I didn't get to be a kid. I didn't get to be a regular person, a regular adult. So I'm playing catch up. At the same time I have a responsibility to my community, to my family, to myself.

I made a commitment. I'm a hundred percent dedicated and invested in this program. That's, that's, that's my vision. It became my vision as well. So, um, not being able to do more. is the hardest. I wish I could do more. I wish I could go faster and harder, but I can only do so much.

Adam Davis: Right. That's interesting. Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. How about you? What feels for you, Alexis? What's, what's been hardest with this?

Alexis Tadeo: It's right there with him and stuff. Just lost time and not having like a childhood, not having done things and stuff like with my girl and stuff. I'll be telling her like I've never done something like this and she'll be like, “what?”

And it's surprising that… look, I've never been to a waterfall. I've never been to this ice cream parlor. I've never done, I've never done nothing that somebody regular would be like, man, I've been there hundreds of times or whatever. It's like you have, but for me, it's like a whole game changer and you know I feel like a kid just like being able to participate in things like that where it's just oh damn you see that, you know, like that's crazy.

And they're like, oh, “that's nothing.” It's like, “To you It's nothing,” but for me it’s….

Adam Davis: So you know while you're saying that there's something beautiful in that, even though it also– I can see why that's really challenging and hard. But also that the world feels new in that way like the world's absolutely new.

Alexis Tadeo: Yeah, I think it's hard. I think my mentality is super old school. I'm sure he's the same way. So when it comes to, like, the way people think these days, they'll say something and mean five different things. We'll say something and mean just that one thing, and then we're being questioned about what's the hidden meaning.

I'm like, what do you mean? I'm telling you what it is. And they're coming at you with, like, five different things, and it's like, I didn't even think about that, because I'm over here just telling you what it is. And it's not like that these days.

Enrique Bautista: Yeah, I guess it comes down to the world being different than what it used to be for us. It really is different. Everything is different.

Adam Davis: How so? What do you mean?

Enrique Bautusta: Like, I mean, I was 18. First off, technology. Technology. You know, like, yeah, everything, like, technology, yeah, that's what it's all about, social media. Take that for example, right? That, like, at first I was like, whoa, and now I see how that can become a problem really easily.

Adam Davis: Yeah.

Enrique Bautista: But it can also be an asset, you know? So you gotta know how to balance and, you know, how to take priority. You know, you can spend all night watching dumb videos or you can watch, you know, certain things that are going to benefit you. It's really, everything's at your fingertips. So that makes a lot of things easier, but at the same time it's really easy to get sidetracked.

Adam Davis: That makes me want to ask you a question. I know you're currently one of the seven Community Storytelling Fellows with Oregon Humanities, and the medium you're working through is writing.

Enrique Bautusta: Yes.

Adam Davis: And there's something old school about writing. It's a medium that I'm most comfortable communicating with.

But, why writing? When did writing become a thing for you and why that?

Enrique Bautista: I've actually written about that, quite a few times. For me, it started in 2004. Passing notes back and forth with my neighbor. We were in DSU. And we created a bond, somehow. You know, you don't really talk to people, you don't really open up.

You know, someone's your friend today, they might be your enemy tomorrow. So, you have to be really, really careful in prison. Especially when you're developing, friendships or relationships or whatever. I didn't want to put whatever we were talking about on the tier. So we used to pass notes back and forth.

Adam Davis: And careful because that can become a source of vulnerability?

Enrique Bautista: Yeah, you don't want people to know like hey, I'm going through this even though you don't really open up to people. But I think the topic at the time where we were writing about was dreams I started reading. And it is a big misconception that everybody in prison has all the time in the world, everybody reads, everybody works out, that is not true.

It's not like in the movies, you know, it varies. But I did do that. I started getting into learning, you know, working on myself early on and reading was one of the best ways for me to learn. I became addicted to learning. So reading was one of my things. So I remember back in 2004, I read a book about lucid, vivid dreams, astral projection and, you know, a bunch of different subjects, right? So we were talking about our dreams, how crazy they were, the probable meanings of them. We're going back and forth.

Adam Davis: Through your writing.

Enrique Bautista: Yeah. And he put that bug in me. He said, “Bro, you should write a book.” Like, what do you mean?

“Like, man, this is good.” And years went by and I don't know, I just started

believing and I just kept writing and writing and writing. And I actually became, a contributing columnist for Street Roots. Back in 2017 they actually published a few of my stories and that just, you know, made me believe in myself a little bit more.

Adam Davis: How'd you do that at first? How did you end up being a contributing columnist for Street Roots?

Enrique Bautista: Um, I think I met someone in prison that was either getting the newspaper delivered to him or he, no, he was working on a story for the newspaper. I'm curious, by nature. I'm always inquiring about this, that, and the other, doing my research and it sounded pretty cool.

“Like, people can actually buy this?” “Yeah.”

And the main thing that made me want to contribute to the newspaper is what they do for the community. They help people that are experiencing homelessness. That was like a big motivator for me to reach out and say, “Hey, how can I send in one of my stories?”

I did that. They reached out to me. I wrote a story about my daughter, and man, that just made me really believe in myself because the subject was something so dear to me, so important. And then I didn't realize that a lot of people would actually relate to that. And everybody who's ever read that story, they tell me the same thing.

Like, it just feels real. I love it. I like the way you express yourself, the way you talk.

Adam Davis: And now, as a Community Storytelling Fellow, you're working on a couple stories. You're almost done with one, you're starting to work on the second, is that right?

Enrique Bautista: Yeah. Yeah. So, to touch on that a little bit.

So I want to say that it comes down to building relationships. You know, I met Tracy Schlapp while she worked at OSP. She did a writing class at OSP. I actually sat in her classroom. And I met her and I learned a lot from her. So after I got out, we connected and she's the one that actually told me about the fellowship and she knew about our program and stuff like that.

Writing has been a passion of mine forever. So the opportunity to have my words out there for the world to see was a big motivation. The fellowship was a big plus because as I mentioned earlier, everything that we're doing with our program has been on us. We have no funding. We started from zero ,and people have been supportive, but we just took a trip to California and we spent a lot of money for a good reason.

Adam Davis: This was a trip down to LA?,

Enrique Bautista: Yeah he’s one of the ones, one of our facilitators. He went down there. He was— we actually met with Father Greg Boyle from Homo Industries. So, you know, having the ability to participate and actually receive that fellowship from Oregon Humanities was– I can't even describe the feeling.

It was… I never won anything in my life. And to win something for a good reason, it was like, positive upon positive and positive upon positive. Like, everything is falling into place. I started working on a story a couple months ago. That's done. I'm working on the second one right now. The first one is about TAG.

I wanted to put the word out there. I want people to know more about what we're doing. And actually, too, invest in our vision, which in turn means investing in our children, our communities. That's what it boils down to. So just, just being able to put it out there like that it's just so rewarding.

Adam Davis: You're listening to The Detour with Enrique Bautista and Alexis Tadeo.

So, let me, I want to ask both of you about the big word in the middle of theTAG, the A. Because that word, “accountability,” accountability is a word that I hear a lot. Sometimes I think I know what it means. Sometimes I'm not sure. Alexis, a minute ago, you talked about people saying they're this, are you saying five things or one thing?

Like, what's the straightest way? You understand accountability? What does that mean? I'll give you my definition,

Enrique Bautista: I’ll give you my definition, but I'll let him go first.

Alexis Tadeo: Okay, awesome. I was going to say, go ahead first.

Enrique Bautista: No, I can go. I can go. See, it's a big one for me, so there's no easy answer for that, right? But taking accountability is not necessarily, “I did it, I'm guilty.”

You know, that's, that's our biggest misconception, that it means that, that you're claiming responsibility for something that you did wrong. That's the automatic answer. In this case, uh, accountability can also be a positive. I take accountability for the changes that I've made in my life, everything that I went wrong.

I put myself in situations, I ended up where I ended up, and, and, because of that, on that same principle, I am where I am today because I took accountability. I messed up, I made wrong decisions because I didn't know any better, and now I'm making the right decisions, so I'm taking accountability for the turns my life has taken, where I'm going.

So it's just claiming responsibility for everything that I'm doing and who I am today. And I don't, I don't mean to sound crazy or nothing, but I love myself, the man that I've become, and I'm still working on myself. I'm a hundred percent satisfied with who I am today, in spite of what I've been through, what I was.

That's always going to be a part of me. But to anyone listening out there, your past actions do not have to define you. They will always be a part of you. And that takes me into identity. If you don't define yourself, the world is going to define you. You have to learn about yourself, who you are, define yourself, don't let nobody label you, and live with yourself, be happy.

Adam Davis: There's a lot in what you just said. A lot. It made me think about a lot of things. I also, I want to keep you on the spot for a little bit.

Alexis Tadeo: So for me, in a nutshell, one word is integrity. You're accountable to yourself, first and foremost, uh, regardless of what you do to others and stuff like that, you have to take accountability for yourself and just take note of like, what did you do, and for what?

Me, myself, I don't do things for other people. It's kind of selfish in a way, but I don't do things for show. Like, yeah, I have, I'm an artist, I do things, but when I do things that have meaning behind it that I do, they're thought of clearly like I have put thought into it. I'll put my heart into it and I don't do it to get recognition.

I don't do it to get an applause or a pat on my back. I do it because I feel like in my heart that's what needs to be done. And it's not something that I'll put out there just to like, showcase it, or whatever. I just do it because I feel like had it been somewhere else, I would like this individual to do it for himself first of all, and then when I see that, it's like, I want that.

I want to be able to be that person to show myself first and foremost, and then come out and have it passed on.

Adam Davis: It's interesting because I think often we think about being accountable to other people or to a system, and you're both talking first and foremost about being accountable to oneself.

Alexis Tadeo: Yeah. I think that's where it all starts. Yeah. Cause you could, you could sit here and be blamed for something or showcase or whatnot. And if

you're full of it, then it's like, why is, why are you going to believe anything that I'm saying if I don't take ownership for what I'm doing? You know? Yeah.

Adam Davis: Yeah.

Alexis Tadeo: Which is hard. I mean, it's hard though. Nobody wants to hear it. Yeah, nobody. Nobody wants to look on themselves, their flaws, the things that they do wrong, and then be like, I was wrong. Admit it, you know? What is it?

Acceptance. It's not easy to come by. Everybody wants to be in denial. Everybody wants to be in a land where it's like, I'm not that bad.

When reality is, the things that you continue to do is harmful to yourself, first and foremost, but it's also harmful to the next guy next to you.

Adam Davis: So let me ask about like, being in the world you're in right now,, I mean I have lots of questions, but I think one is around this question of accountability and responsibility and maybe when you run into other people who you feel like aren't stepping up, aren't taking responsibility the way that you think people ought to, how do you respond to that?

What do you see examples of that, that you can name?

Enrique Bautista: Yeah, but I'm actually, that's a great question. I'm actually, you brought that up in the line of work that we do. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes, right? Yeah. We're here. Uh, we're talking, we're sharing, we're telling your experiences, you know, our desires to help,and not only us telling you, but we are doing what needs to be done.

Like he said, you know, we, I have integrity. He has integrity. Every wedding or circle has integrity. We're working and we're doing it for real. The one thing, the biggest hurdle, it's not people not believing in us, but people working against us, thinking that the work we're doing, it's….

Adam Davis: A sham. It's like a joke or something. Why, why do people think that? Why are they working against it?

Enrique Bautista: Well, imagine that the person you're trying to help is fighting you because you're trying to help them. People from the same lifestyle, same world. You know to the outsider, it probably goes unnoticed, right? But every time we go to a function, every time we interact with somebody, it's not easy.

It's hard because we are a target. What we're doing is not right in the eyes of people that probably don't matter, but in reality, they do matter. So, what you see in front of you is positivity. Yeah. But that positivity came from a lot of negativity, from a whole world of negativity. When you step away or aside from that world, you're not necessarily out.

You're just right next to it. Most people don't see that negativity. And that's what we're working against. Aside from the fact that we're new out here. We're learning all these things. We just know what we want to do and we're learning how to do it. But then there's all those obstacles and hurdles and, you know, things like that that we have to go through.

Alexis Tadeo: And then most importantly is. We're being profiled, not because of what we're doing right now, but our tattoos, facial, our background, they read our jackets before they even hear about us or hear what comes out of our mouth.

They read our past. They read, “Oh, look, these guys are affiliated.” These guys will do this and that.

This guy's tagged this and this guy's tagged that. And it's like, hold on. Can you guys put that aside for a second and listen to what I have to say? Because what I have to say has more meaning than what happened in the past. Because what he said, our past behaviors don't define who we are, but our actions, what we're doing today is what we're trying to demonstrate who we are as individuals.

Adam Davis: How do you break that stuff down? How do you get people to do that?

Enrique Bautista: Personally, I take it as a challenge every time I encounter something like that. I've said it a billion times before. Every time I have an interaction with someone new, depending on the circumstances, it's like a level of ignorance is expected of me.

Adam Davis: Is expected of you?

Enrique Bautista: Yeah. I look a certain way. And to the average person, I'm no different than somebody in the corner shooting up drugs or selling drugs. I'm no different than that. And yeah, I was that.

Adam Davis: But…

Enrique Bautista: As I said earlier, it's not me anymore. It's always going to be in there, but I'm so much more than that now.

So I just let people see for themselves and then they make the choice. And once they get to know me and once they actually look into what we have achieved, what we've accomplished so far, the question goes out the window. They don't even see the tattoos anymore. They don't see the jacket. They don't see the past.

They just see what we're doing now and they want to contribute to that.

Alexis Tadeo: But there's a lot of no sayers or nay sayers at the very beginning everywhere we go, and it's like, those are the people that we need to hook. We need you guys to listen and be like, hey, give me a second to say what I have to say, and then take it upon yourself to judge, because you're already judging me.

So just give me a second before you continue to judge me, hear me, hear us out. Yeah. What we have to deliver. And then, Go about your day. Go do what you do.

Adam Davis: Okay, let me ask specifically, you said in prison there were divisions around race, most of all.

Alexis Tadeo: Gangs, race.

Adam Davis: Gangs, race. What about now that you're out, what are the divisions you feel most?

Enrique Bautista: You know what, I'm actually really glad you mentioned that. I'm glad you brought that up. I was asking, obviously we're Hispanic. We have a certain background, you know, there's a lot of gangs, a lot of different things that play a part when you live in that world, when you're part of that lifestyle, right?

And those lines that we talked about earlier, you know, the divisions. Out here, it's almost the same, but on a bigger scale. So on the one hand, it might be easier. On the other hand, it might be harder. I don't know. We just go at it, you know, a little bit at a time, one day at a time. As far as the racial lines out here, I don't see color, but color is there.

So the reason we became a diverse group. When we started, this was because we had one thing in mind. Maybe Timmy over there is not gonna relate to me. Maybe he's gonna relate to Josh, maybe. I don't want to sound stereotypical here, but maybe Jamal is not gonna relate to Pedro over here, he's gonna relate to DePrince more. So it was really important to become a diverse group, have a little bit for everybody. Because everybody has something to bring to the table.

And, initially people, I don't want to generalize, but most times people don't really see that out here. They just see your face, your color, your background, whatever. But you'd be surprised how many people gravitate towards us either from the street, from gangs or, you know, professional people we've met.

We've met attorneys, professors. We went to Corvallis. What is it? The….

Alexis Tadeo: Oregon, Oregon State University. Yeah. We were invited to share our story, we had 30 minutes apiece. And it was like, yeah, it was like, what? Like 50, a lot of people.

Enrique Bautista: You have 50 to 60 sociology students in an auditorium at the university.

And I think I was just out for like two months back then, maybe one or two. I don't know. It was like four months. I just turned one year out here.

Adam Davis: So one year for you…

Enrique Bautista: And 10 months for me. Yeah, so, you know, and for those people to welcome us there and want to hear our stories. And a lot of the times it's us sharing things that you don't normally hear about, you know.

I'm a thinker, you know, I always try to think about, think outside the box and I try to think about efficiency. You know, if I only have five minutes to talk to you, I want to make the best of those five minutes, right? I know I got plenty of time right here, right now, but I already talked too long, but I want to be as efficient as possible when I'm delivering my message, right? And I want to stick to the point and I want to, I want to give you the punchline before anything else, right? So, taking that in consideration, um, You know, every time, every time we share our stories, I try, I personally try to touch on things that sometimes go unnoticed.

Uh, I'll give you an example. You know, in that particular scenario, those kids did not know that, yeah, sure, you get into a fight when you're in prison and you go to the hole. But did you know that you pay restitution, that you pay a fine, that you spend two years in the hole for 30 seconds of fighting? You know, those little things that add up and those kids, those students are going to be our legislators in the future.

Their votes are going to mean something in the future. So when you educate people to a certain degree outside the box, you're actually planting the seed. So when you pass, um, when you talk about a certain law, like you really have to do your homework., And the same goes on a lower scale or a higher scale.

If you're talking in the streets, you have to be mindful of certain things, think ahead and think about the possibilities, even if you're talking to a kid that you met two days ago and he's got issues, you know, you got to be mindful of all those things.

Adam Davis: Yeah, I want to ask you a couple more questions and maybe move us toward a close because I don't want to take too much of your time. One is, You're talking about drawing.

Alexis Tadeo: Yeah. Always been into drawing.

Adam Davis: Still drawing?

Alexis Tadeo:Yes.

Adam Davis: How do you decide what to draw?

Alexis Tadeo: I don't think I– it's more on what I decide to draw. It's on lately since it's my business. I opened up my own business, Real Life Zinc LLC. It's something that is what the customers want.

What, what do you guys want? Well, you know, give me something to commission or something like that. Um, but when I do draw, it's more on the lines, along the lines of like, what gives me the most feeling? What brings me something. Like just recently, I went to tattoo school and I had to do a portrait.

I could have chosen many other portraits and stuff. Instead, I chose something that means a lot to me. Someone that means a lot to me, a person, you know, a person that I just know or that I knew. I could have just done it or whatever, but it's like when I do a piece it's like I give something of myself, whether it be feeling angry, feeling sad, feeling happy or something.

It's always something that my emotions always come out. I'm not always good with expressing myself emotionally or verbally. I'm not like– I'm not always good with words. But it comes out in my drawings and stuff. If I'm feeling sad, if I'm feeling happy, if I'm feeling lovey dovey or whatever, it comes out in my work.

And when you're able to see the reactions on the people that you give that stuff, like I said, it's my drug, it's what gets me going and stuff. So whatever I could do to most impact somebody is what I do.

Adam Davis: So I've been thinking a little bit as we've been talking about that. Kind of how you were talking earlier about the 15 years and 21 years and I'm thinking forward 15 years, 21 years.

I don't know when you think forward 15 years– yourself, your life. What do you think about?

Enrique Bautista: I mean, first and foremost, I think of my legacy. I don't want to be remembered as that guy that spent a lifetime in prison and got out and did nothing with his life. Or, that kid that went to prison and no one ever heard of him.

You know, I want to be remembered as somebody that did something, not just for me, not just for mine, but for everybody. And I think the best way to do that is to do what we're doing. You know, creating awareness, you know? You know, contributing to the solution. And it's crazy because cycles, there's always going to be cycles, negative cycles.

You know, you try to break one and there's another one and another one, another one. And you know, the struggle never ends. But it's kind of like, okay, you know, you plant the seed and it's going to take and over time somebody else is going to come along and continue. So that's what drives me. You know, I don't really think of a specific thing or a place in my future, but I just want to see it as it goes and, you know, maybe one day when I'm old, I'm going to look back and say, you know what, I'm happy with what I did.

Adam Davis: What do you think? 15 years forward, what kind of things do you think about?

Alexis Tadeo: I think about, like you said, legacy, but that next group of individuals that are not necessarily following in our footsteps, but are pushing past all what we've done and accomplishing so much more that we don't even comprehend. So it's like when, even when I'm teaching somebody how to draw, I'm not teaching them to be as good as me.

I'm teaching them to be better than me. So these next generations that come through and stuff, like, I want to see them be able to push past the obstacles that we face today and them not even worrying about it, so they just walk through it like tissue paper as opposed to we're walking through a big wall, you know?

Adam Davis: Yeah. Maybe the last thing I want to ask is about questions. I want to ask if, like, as you're walking around the last few weeks or the last few months, is there a question or something that keeps coming to your head or something you kind of keep wondering about in a persistent way? Anything that keeps popping up for you?

Enrique Bautista: As a matter of fact, yes. So, I'm big on, on quotes, right? And sayings and little things like that. I have notebooks packed with quotes. I love quotes because they motivate me. They do it for me and certain quotes are powerful. Mm-hmm. But I don't know. I've been hearing this in my head lately: “History repeats itself.”

Adam Davis: Mm-Hmm.

Enrique Bautista: For some reason, I saw it in a movie. I heard it in a song, and I don't know why. And I've come to realize that. Yeah, it's true. History does repeat itself now. Is that necessarily, a negative? No. As we know, we learn from,

from experience and you know, there's no better teacher than experience.

So for some reason that keeps popping up in my head, “history repeats itself.” So that's my teacher, what I've been through and that's what I want to teach others. You know, learn from your mistakes. But you can learn from someone else's mistakes, become a better person.

Adam Davis: Thank you.

Alexis Tadeo: For me, it's, I've been taking hits left and right lately.

So for me, it's like, I'm always expecting the next one, or that next shoot to drop or whatever. Right? So for me, it's like, it's always how much more can I take? And then it's not just that, it's how much more can I give? And that's something that's been circulated because it's– we're spreading ourselves kind of thin.

And he just brought this to my attention. Cause he's like, man, you'll be traveling up and down the I-5 and stuff like that. How do you do it? And it's like, I have no choice. No, one's going to do it for me. No, one's just going to hand me something. So I have to go get it.

Alexis Tadeo: And I have to be there. I told my– I told you I want to be there. So I'm going to be there regardless of what I got going on over here. I got to show out because I said that. But then you got things coming in the way, where

obstacles or hits,you know, you're taking back steps and stuff like that and it's like How much more can I take? How much more do I have? In reality it takes a toll, you know, but you'd sit down with the kid for 20 minutes and you get through it and it's just like, do whatever you gotta do to do that.


To be there. You know, so It's just mandatory. There's just no no. There’s no no.


Enrique Bautista: Resilience. That's all I can say. You gotta be resilient. And when you're in prison for so long, you learn to be resilient. Before I forget, I think, if I may, Adam. Okay, so we're putting together a fundraiser. We've been talking about our program.

We want to make it grow. So we're asking for help, but more than asking for help, we want to bring our communities together to learn about the issues that we see every day. We see drug addiction, homelessness, unemployment, gang violence in the schools. It used to not be in the school, you know, school was off limits.

Now it's in the schools. Now drugs are in schools. So all those issues that our communities are dealing with are out there and not your issue. My issue is it's everybody's issue and everybody can contribute to fixing the issue. Everybody can bring something to the table. So what we wanted to do was create a place

where everybody is going to come and see different faces.

And learn about everybody. So, it's going to be at the Settlemire Park the last week of July. It's going to be a Saturday. And we want to invite as many people as possible. It doesn't matter where you're from, what your community's at. It's our community. We live in the same world. We're going to give out more details as we get them.

We're still working on it. We want to make it as big and effective as possible. So we want to cater to everybody. You know, and so everybody's invited. And we look forward to helping you get the word out as that shapes up. Thank you.

Thank you. Absolutely.


Alexis Tadeo: Appreciate it.

Adam Davis: And I want to say, well, first I want to say thank you for finding time in very full lives that are asking a lot of you.

Thank you for taking time to come up here and talk this through. More than that, thank you for the way you're moving through the world. Appreciate it. Really.

Thank you. Serious stuff. I just want to express my admiration and appreciation. Enrique Bautista: That means a lot, man. Thank you.

Enrique Bautista is a writer, artist, facilitator, peer recovery mentor, and fitness trainer living in Woodburn, Oregon. Enrique was released from Oregon State Penitentiary on July 7, 2023 after serving 21 years for a crime he did not commit. His case was overturned on appeal last year. And he is currently in the process of litigating for compensation for wrongful conviction.

Enrique is a cofounder of Taking Accountability Group, and his goal is to develop the organization into a success story making machine. Enrique is a devoted father and husband to his 23-year-old daughter and his wife and best friend of 25 years. In his own words, “I want my life experience, everything that I and my family went through, to mean something, because it cost a lot.”

Alexis Tadeo is an artist and facilitator who lives in Eugene. Raised in Red Bluff, California, at an age where it felt normal to engage in the gang lifestyle, Alexis went from good grades and scholarships to prison at the age of 18. He served 15 years out of an 18 year sentence for a self defense shooting, in a state where self defense doesn't usually apply.

While in prison, Alexis honed his artistic skill, where he established and taught an airbrush class, which would become the reason for his early release from prison just one year ago. Since his release, he has become a business owner, creating

Real Eyes Inc. LLC, where he specializes in airbrushing. Alexis is a TAG facilitator and has become the proud mentor that he desperately needed growing up.

Alexis hopes to make a difference by sharing his story and empowering creative minds in Oregon to expand their self worth and to discover their talents and passions. You can find information about our guests, including links to Enrique's Street Roots article and Alexis’ art business, in our show notes at OregonHumanities.org. We'll share more information about TAG's fundraiser on July 17th as we get it. Please check our Instagram page and show notes closer to the date. T

he Detour is produced by Keiren Bond. Kyle Gilmer is our editor. Ben Waterhouse, Alexandra Sylvester, and Karina Briski are our assistant producers. I'm your host, Adam Davis. Thanks for listening. See you next time.

Jen Chavez: You learn a lot by listening to other people, don't you? If you're listening to The Detour, you probably love understanding the place you live. I'm Jen Chavez, host of another podcast you might enjoy. It's called The Evergreen, a podcast from the newsroom of OPB about the place you call home.

Each week, we bring you a story about the Pacific Northwest. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts.


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