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

John’s story is shared with thanks to Prison Fellowship, and is featured as part of our Prisons Week content.

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