Jonathan

Jonathan is 35 years old but doesn’t look a day over 20. “Prison preserved me,” he says with a laugh when we sit down to talk. But I think it’s more than that. I think a lifetime of neglect, of punishments without impact, have thrust him into a delayed adulthood that he’s finally learning to … Read more

Troy

Winard has been a student at Turning Leaf for almost four months. He’s nearing graduation and I didn’t want his story to slip past me. After all these years, sometimes I have a sixth sense about the men I work for. Sometimes I feel that there’s a story to be told. I asked and he … Read more

JB

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. –Matthew 5:44, King James Bible Turning Leaf isn’t a faith-based organization, but when a student comes to us with a story heavily punctuated by loss, and yet has “love your enemies” … Read more

Rigg

Drugs. Robberies. Guns. Violence. There are so many things for parents to worry about. Sometimes, all a mama can do is try her hardest and hope that someday her child will hear her. That’s how it was with Rigg. His mama did everything she could to show a good way to live. But from the … Read more

Deon

“The power to grant pardons and clemency is one of the most profound authorities granted to the President of the United States. It embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance.” –President Barack Obama, January 19, 2017 It’s not every day you get a letter from a sitting President of … Read more

Stephen

When is a “debt to society” fully paid? When can we move beyond the choices made by a child to see that, maybe, their “choices” were inevitable? Stephen spent upwards of 23 years in prison. He was inside for most of his 20s, all his 30s, and a lot of his 40s as well. He … Read more

Alizé

At 24 years old, Alizé is younger than most of the guys we see at Turning Leaf. A lot of times, guys younger than 25 struggle with the program. They’re youthful, still impulsive, and not quite ready to say goodbye to the streets. It’s different for Alizé, though. A quiet man with a polite smile … Read more

Janarius

As these words are being written, criminal justice reform is a hot topic. Inhumanely long sentences are being re-examined; solitary confinement is being halted. And we at Turning Leaf are delighted to know that April is National Second Chance Month. Our men are all offered a new direction when they come here. A new chance … Read more

Van

Van was the kid in his neighborhood who was supposed to get out. The smart one. The one everyone rallied around and protected. But somehow, still, at 17 he made a mistake, which led to another, and another, until he wound up deep in the exact life he was supposed to avoid: the life of … Read more

Terrell

It’s funny how a single decision can change the trajectory of a person’s life. Sometimes it’s not even your own life. Those of us with children or who work with children know we can say or do things – sometimes without thinking about it – that affect a child in monumental ways. In Terrell’s case, … Read more