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Former inmate finds peace in faith

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Julio Briones grew up going to Mass. He was baptized, took communion and went through confirmation. He ended up serving 12 years in prison (after being sentenced to 39 years). He even contemplated taking his own life before meeting Sister Elizabeth Gnam.

Now out of prison with a family and well-paying job, Briones talks to Mary Cummings-Jordan about his life in prison and finding peace through reconciliation with the Church. 

Here are some standout moments of their conversation:

On life in prison:

“It’s very difficult. It’s very lonely. You’re surrounded by thousands of people, and you’re completely alone. There’s no one that you can share your experience with. If you feel sad, you can’t tell anyone. If you want to cry just to let out some sort of emotion, you can’t. If you’re angry, you can’t lash out because the consequences are usually pretty severe.”

On his outlook while in prison:

“It was hopeless. I saw nothing ahead of me. I saw no future. To me it would have been no different after they gave me that sentence then if the judge would have pulled a gun out and shot me on the spot.”

On returning to the church he grew up in:

“To me, reconciliation was handing over control of my life back to god and knowing that god accepted it.”

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