Welcome, Charles Joseph

Bula (greetings) to all! Charles “Bula” Joseph, IM4HI 2021 Spiritual Activist in Residence

I was an organizing leader on the inside, and I am eager to do all I can to further the movement to free all my brothers and sisters from the prison industrial complex and civil detention by ICE.

Charles Joseph, IM4HI 2021 Spiritual Activist in Residence

Charles Robert Joseph is IM4HI’s new Spiritual Activist in Residence!

IM4HI is proud to launch our Spiritual Activist in Residence position, investing in the leadership of those formerly incarcerated. This twelve-month paid residency program supports an individual who has survived both the criminal justice and immigration detention system, who can help to bridge silos in our movements and bring their skills and personal experience to enhance efforts of community outreach, public engagement, and movement building. This position will work in partnership with the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. We are grateful to IM4HI’s Founding Circle of donors, the New Breath Foundation, and the Heising Simons Foundation for their support in making this residency possible.

We are thrilled to introduce Charles Joseph as our inaugural Spiritual Activist in Residence. Charles was incarcerated in CDCR for twelve years and was granted parole only to be picked up and detained in ICE detention for eleven months. We have had the honor of walking with Charles and his family on his journey as a leader and organizer behind bars, to his recent liberation from immigration detention, and his current efforts seeking a pardon to stop his deportation.

Charles will be leading IM4HI’s work on the VISION Act to end ICE transfers, creating healing circles for Pacific Islanders and other formerly incarcerated, and conducting community education about the intersections of immigration and incarceration. His musical and spiritual gifts will be a huge asset in reaching out to those directly impacted and advocating for policies that will transform systems of punishment into pathways to prevention and healing.

If you’d like to organize a screening and discussion of the film “Bula” about Charles’ journey, or know of Pacific Islander faith communities to engage in this work, please contact Charles at

We look forward to movement building with Charles!

More About Charles

Charles “Bula” Joseph brings with him the life experience of being incarcerated for twelve years, and detained by ICE in Mesa Verde for eleven months. During his incarceration, the Native American Sweat Lodge was a big part of Charles’ transformation.  After being invited and permitted to participate in their sacred ceremony, Charles began to heal from the inside and uplift others by teaching music, art, cultural chants and dances that were performed for events in the facility. Charles organized and performed concerts on the prison yard to boost morale and in the visiting room to create a pleasant environment. Charles was elected by his peers into the Men’s Advisory Council that was tasked with maintaining peace in the facility and bringing grievances to the captain and warden. 

While Charles was born and raised in a strict Catholic family, he identifies as a Rastafarian. His life journey in studies of people’s belief has taught him that faith is essential, especially to have hope in dire times. Within incarceration, Charles has meditated with Buddhist brothers, fasted with Muslim brothers, been part of sacred ceremonies with Native American brothers, prayed in temple with Hindu brothers, celebrated with Sikh brothers, and led ceremony with Pacific Island brothers. 

In the role as Spiritual Activist in Residence, Charles will bring his knowledge and journey of being impacted to deepen the faith-rooted organizing around issues of incarceration and immigration. Charles hopes to be a messenger for oneness, that all faiths are a branch of spirituality, like all rivers, lakes, oceans, and single puddles are all water.


Charles Joseph Freedom Campaign 2020