Inmate's Generosity Just Made Him $100K Richer

Prisoner donated $17 paycheck—an entire month's worth of work—to Gaza; then people gave to him
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2024 9:30 AM CST
Strangers Donate $100K to Inmate After His $17 Donation
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/txking)

A longtime California inmate had to put in a month's worth of work just to earn enough to buy a couple of Starbucks drinks. What he did with those earnings, however, has since made him $100,000 richer as he prepares to reenter the world upon being paroled later this month.

  • Generosity: The prisoner known as Hamza—an alias he chose so he wouldn't risk his parole, per the Washington Post—recently reached out to friend Justin Mashouf, an LA filmmaker, and said he needed assistance in getting the money he'd earned working as a janitor for the California Health Care Facility to the people of Gaza, whose plight he'd seen in news reports.
  • The numbers: Hamza donated $17.74, his entire paycheck for the 136 hours or so he'd worked during the month of October—about 13 cents an hour, per the Guardian.
  • Payback: After Mashouf posted about Hamza's donation on social media, people soon started asking Mashouf how they could donate to Hamza himself. Mashouf set up a GoFundMe, noting that "in the ['80s], Hamza accidentally fired a gun at a loved one, which [killed] the victim, leading to his imprisonment for over four decades. ... Your contributions will empower him to transition back into society with dignity and security after years of isolation."

  • Backstory: Mashouf says Hamza shot an uncle. Per records reviewed by the Post, Hamza pleaded guilty as a teen to second-degree murder in 1986 and was sentenced to 15 years to life. He was denied parole more than a dozen times over the years before finally having it granted.
  • Grateful: On the GoFundMe, which raised a total of $102,187 before Hamza asked to suspend it, Hamza thanked his donors and noted, "I look forward to the promise of life, happiness, struggles and dreams, to soar and spread my wings, to be a man, a human being once again." He should be getting one more paycheck before he's released this month, and he plans to also donate that to Gaza civilians.
(More uplifting news stories.)

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