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I was criminalized at age 12 as part of the School to Prison Pipeline and which oddly enough was, in part, a result of bussing during the desegregation effort in the schools. I was bussed from my familiar home area to a very unfamiliar upscale area. The irony is that this school experience, and a drafting class – which I loved, revealed a passion in me for art from which a thrill for graffiti emerged – my birth of rebellion. That thrill brought police to my school, my first time hands cuffed behind my back and off to Juvenile Hall and probation – age 12. By age 15 I was separated from my parents, a ward of the court and in the California Youth Authority. By the time I was 18, I was in prison.

While in prison my passion for art further emerged and my drawing skills continued to develop. I was also inspired to study deeply the topics of world politics and different forms of communication via art, verbal and written.

I was released in 2017, on Parole, after 16 years in prison – 10 of those years were spent in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison SHU.  Upon my release, I 

– Launched Aztlan Press and published my first book AZTLAN REALISM: Chicano Revolutionary Art From Pelican Bay S.H.U.

– Wrote a stage play, “Skeleton Bay”, (YouTube/”Skeleton Bay”, by Jose H. Villarreal)

– Participate in Liberate the Caged Voices (project of California Prison Focus)

– Air FREE AZTLAN radio program, Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. (listen online at

My dreams and aspirations for myself, family and community inclusively center around education about mass imprisonment and torture, and promoting changes in the way society views and addresses incarceration, including the role that the School to Prison Pipeline plays in the Prison Industrial Complex system.

Contact and Other Information:

  • Phone Number:  (408) 826-5080

  • Email:

  • Facebook:  Joey Villarreal

  • Home Base: San Jose, California.

  • Availability: Flexible, except Tuesdays when the FREE AZTLAN radio show airs. A minimum of 2-weeks-notice is preferred.

  • Fees: For non-CPF events – $50 - $800.

  • Areas of Focus:

    • History of ATZLAN and the Chicano Movement, and lessons learned

    • Storytelling

    • Restorative Justice

    • The impact of solitary confinement on those incarcerated and their loved ones

    • Historical parallels of racial oppression against incarcerated brown people



AZTLAN REALISM: Chicano Revolutionary Art From Pelican Bay S.H.U.

Prison Arts Healing Hearts (P.A.T.H.) – Leslie Lakes, Director


Book Front  Cover                            Book Back Cover







YouTube – Play "Skeleton Bay" by Jose Villarreal



Tune in online to Radio FREE AZTLAN Tuesdays at 8pm at:

Radio FREE AZTLAN on Facebook at: Radio Free Aztlan KEXU 96.1 FM LP



Member of Calpulli Tonalehque studying Aztec dance.






The making of a Documentary about Jose Villarreal by Charlie Trujillo of Chusma House Publishing is in progress.