Six times in prison is a lot. It’s called chronic recidivism and it’s indicative of something broken. My friend Zack is one of these chronic recidivists, but it’s not too late. At the start of this last sentence, a family friend said this to him and the groundwork for the fundamental shifts were laid. But how did it start? Zack is 35, but you have to go back 21 years to see how he broke…

When he was 14, his father died. He had the utmost respect for him and he suffered greatly due to the loss. As it goes with these types of situations, Zack’s mother had to work twice as hard to make ends meet and Zack started to mask his pain in drugs and alcohol. Ultimately, he found male figures in the streets to look up to. While he had older siblings, he didn’t have direction. This is the recipe for a life of living under the roof of the law.

In 2006, as Zack moved in and out of prison confinement, his sister found the power of social justice. Zack speaks highly of his sister’s involvement in a Big Sisters program and the connection she made to his situation. But he wasn’t quiet ready to make the changes needed for himself. He hadn’t hit bottom just yet. For Zack, who’s currently serving a five year sentence for felony DUI, the power of faith, family and courage were just on the horizon. He had to discover himself in the process of growth.

He finally got his chance this time and wrapped his faith into a plan for success. Zack has two children and he realizes that he has given them the pain of not having a dad around. He doesn’t keep the old ties to the gang life anymore and he says that once he started to make real changes, it was quite easy to continue. For Zack, a successful life of love and normalcy is the only thing he wants to “sign his name to”. He wants to prove to God, himself and his family that he has what it takes to live a beautiful life. At 35 with six convictions, Zack carries a lot of guilt, but he shows heart and now walks a life that shows that it’s not too late…

by Rory Andes

It’s never too late to live well. Just start.

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