I’m thankful for stories like this one that demonstrate that sometimes things do work out and people do get second chances. Mario Rocha served 10 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, but got out in 2006. Three years later, he’s a freshman at George Washington University studying writing.
I’m thankful that in his case people like sister Sister Janet Harris who discovered his talent in the juvenile hall writing program and doubted he was a killer. Ditto the attorneys at Latham and Watkins who worked on his appeal pro bono and were open-minded enough to understand a conviction doesn’t make someone “bad.”
I’m thankful that there are people working in re-entry programs like OAR, and in community service or addiction treatment to help people get back on their feet again. I’m also thankful that there are business owners who need good employees and are willing to give someone with a record a second chance.
And I’m supremely thankful that so many of the ex-offenders I’ve worked with have been willing to take responsibility for their pasts and do the truly hard work to turn their lives around. It’s been inspiring to see the changes people have made in their lives. And I know I’ll see much more.