John's Story

John's life was turned around when he was unexpectedly met with forgiveness while in prison.

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Eight weeks ago, I was released from Rochester Prison,
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having spent 30 years of my life in custody.
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My own journey started as a young man
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when I tragically got involved in a robbery
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with devastating consequences.
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Then going to court and seeing the impact
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that had on the victims family, my own family,
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my son at the time, my ex-wife
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led me down the path of self harm,
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addiction, anxiety, depression,
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a lot of guilt, a lot of shame, a lot of remorse.
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I just couldn't get out of the dark hole
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and just went deeper and deeper down, and down, and down.
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And then, I came to Rochester
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and I learned about the Sycamore Tree restorative justice.
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Put my name down for it,
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I waited about nine months to get on the course, ten months.
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And when I got on the course it had,
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I'd say, a life changing effect on me,
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because I was able to see the victims of crime
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face to face, firsthand
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and to see they were able to forgive people
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who'd committed devastating acts against families,
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their family, and sometimes themselves and all that.
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So, that was a healing process, myself.
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Then knowing if people like that could forgive
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people like myself, well I could, possibly, forgive myself.
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And it, sort of, made me turn the corner
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and start to feel better about myself and more positive.
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And, in Rochester, I also became a born again Christian.
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I attend church outside now,
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as well as, AA meetings and all that like.
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Rochester, most definitely, was life changing for me,
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the support I got there.
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I'd hope to come back to Rochester in the future
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and be a facilitator and to empower other men
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to make the changes in their life
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that I have done, myself.
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And, to get to where I am now, as a free man.