What happens to an ex-con once they get out of prison? The truth is, a large majority of those ex-cons become repeat offenders. They get out of prison return to their old neighborhood, can't find a job and, in many cases, they return to a life of crime and find themselves back behind bars.

However, thankfully that is not always the case. There are several success stories, Duane Chapman is a good example of a person who turned his life around. After serving 18 months of a five-year prison sentence, Chapman vowed to redeem himself by operating on the right side of the law. and is now the man behind the popular A&E and CMT bounty hunting shows.

Then there is Greg Mathis, ex-con who turned his life around and many now know him as Judge Greg Mathis.  

The fact is that there are many ex-offenders who are defying the odds and are actually coming out of prison with a new perspective on life. But, gaining a new perspective is  the probably the easiest part, the hard part is trying to prove to others that they really have changed and to get others to give them a chance.

Just because a convicted criminal has served their time doesn't mean that society is as eager to forgive and forget. The truth is ex-con's have a lot of making up to do once they are released. Just when they think their past is behind them, someone somewhere will remind them of what they've done. So those who succeed in making it on the outside are usually those who've chosen not to hide the fact that they once served time. Instead they make a conscious decision to attempt to stay on the right side of the law and to discourage others from going down the path that they were once on. 

Being successful on the outside of prison means that they need to make new changes in their lives, including making new friends, pursuing a higher education and for some that could mean something as simple as getting a GED. They have to set new goals, focus on new beginnings and work hard to rebuild the trust that they have lost over the years. 

One of the consequences of being an ex-con is that their past can be thrown in their face at any time and their motives and lifestyle can also be put into question. They are  human and still struggle with feelings of never being able to measure up and they have to fight against feelings of defeat and failure just like anyone else. That is why it is important for them to have positive people and influences in their lives.

Pastor Darin Carroll who is a former resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado knows that all too well. Carroll shares his story frequently with recovering addicts, encouraging them to take their recovery seriously.  

Carroll's youth was a blur of drugs, alcohol and self destruction, it exploded in 1995, when he was charged with manslaughter in the death of Tina Lovato.

He served his sentence, and since his release in 1997, he and his wife and two children have spent nearly two decades reaching out to those in their community trying to encourage others not to go down the same path that he did in his youth.

Prison is what probably saved Carroll's life, it wasn't until then that he experienced sobriety for the first time in a long time. It was in his cell that Carroll felt the weight of the world fall on him, he was no longer able to numb his feelings or thoughts with drugs or alcohol and he had to stare his past in the face and make a conscious decision that he did not want to be the person he once was. He found hope, strength and forgiveness in the form of a religious transformation and that is what has fueled his desire to help others turn their lives around. 

In 2013, he and his wife released a book, “Torn Apart and Restored”. It details the destructive lifestyle that drugs and alcohol led him into. The profits from the sale of that book go to Victory Life Ministries and to their outreach ministries. At the writing of the book, they chose to respect the privacy of Tina's family and did not use her real name.

Carroll has spent the past two decades working with local churches and agencies in Pueblo, Colorado in an attempt to steer youth away from the life of gangs, drugs and violence. 

On July 15, 2016, a producer from Jupiter Entertainment, which creates programs for The History Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery, A&E, and other global cable networks contacted Pastor Carroll and interviewed him on what occurred the night that Tina died.  It will air in January of 2017. 

Carroll's prayer is that those watching the review and report of the incident from 1993, will realize that drugs, alcohol and violence are an evil combination.

His prayers and sincere sorrow felt apologies are extended to Tina's children and family, knowing that the airing of this show will bring back all that hurt 

The end result of that night could have gone in several different directions, drugs and alcohol clouded the couples judgment and before the night was over, the gun went off and Lovato was lying in a pool of blood from a gunshot to her neck. The trigger was never pulled.

-Carroll has spent the past two decades trying to encourage others to stay off the path that he was on. Here are a few links on Carroll of some of the things that he has been involved in over the years.

 

http://www.chieftain.com/mobile/msearch/4219304-123/pueblo-community-hope-2016

 

http://www.chieftain.com/life/religion/3845326-120/gang-carroll-salazar-Montoya

 

Former Colorado Springs Resident to Serve as Guest Chaplain in State House of Representatives

 

http://www.chieftain.com/news/pueblo/1812157-120/church-churches-event-families

 

http://www.chieftain.com/mobile/mhome/4403917-123/academy-montoya-boxing-pueblo#.VrTDcOgbetI.facebook

 

http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/editorials/4654494-120/gang-pueblo-abuse-community

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Given the road that Carroll was on, most individuals would expect that upon his release from prison,  he would turn back to a life of drugs, gangs, and violence. In fact, during an application for pardon, Governor Roy Romer, the governor of Colorado at the time, wrote the courts stating that Carroll was a menace to society and should not be released. Several years later, when it was evident that he was a changed man, Carroll was invited to the Governor's mansion in Denver, Colorado by Governor Roy Romer, himself. He was recognized for his work as a key representative for Break Away, a Biblically-based alternative program that has impacted thousands of lives. Its focus is helping people overcome their addictions through the saving power of Jesus Christ.

 

Carroll has taken responsibility for his part in this, and lives with the nightmare and grief. His sincere apologies and heart stricken sorrow go out to Tina's children. Words can not express his sorrow. He will live with the remorse the rest of his life and that is what fuels him to continue helping others. He doesn't want anyone to go on a similar path that he was on. He doesn't want any more children to grow up without their mothers.

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