A Story of Redemption
When he was only 16 years old, Nhut was sentenced to a lifetime behind bars without the possibility of parole. He had committed an act that he deeply regretted and would change the course of the rest of his life.
Within the confines of prison, Nhut found a piece of hope through a Youth prevention program. In there he shared his personal journey and life lessons, he also connected with at-risk youth, and committed to showing them a different path. This outreach sparked a significant change within Nhut. Through these connections, he discovered a well of empathy and self-worth.
After 20 years of incarceration, Nhut's destiny had an unexpected turn in store for him -- a landmark Supreme Court decision ruled that youth who are sentenced to a lifetime without the possibility of parole is a cruel and unusual punishment.
With that, Nhut was granted an unforeseen chance at freedom in July 2020! From then on, Nhut emerged from his decade-long confinement, carrying with him the lessons he had learned during his time behind bars.
Embracing his new freedom, Nhut became a volunteer mentor with H.I.R.E. in the Transforming Integration into Meaningful Experiences (T.I.M.E.) mentor program sharing his experiences and lessons through his resilient journey and giving back to his community by becoming a sort of guidance for justice-involved youth. Although it has been a challenge for him to return to Juvenile Hall as a free man as it serves as a reminder of the past, Nhut remains committed to having a positive impact on justice-involved youth.
"There's always one part of my life that I want to be involved with system-impacted people. I think that's important. I think that's one of the biggest parts of who I am as a person.” – Nhut
Beyond his role as a mentor, Nhut's impact continues to expand. He is a tattoo artist, channeling his creativity into a positive outlet. He participates in programs that teach mindfulness and Buddhist practices to justice-involved individuals in California jails, and in a dog training program that provides job training to those that look to rebuild their lives.
Nhut hopes to create a ripple effect of transformation and success for those he mentors. If he is able to change one life, Nhut believes they will, in turn, inspire and change the life of another creating a chain reaction of positivity and growth.