Ossining HS students welcome home inmate who they say changed their lives

The last time the students saw Samuel Acevedo, he was an inmate at Sing Sing in Ossining and the students were visiting the prison as part of a program to listen to inmates tell their stories as part of the "Youth Assistance Program."

Emily Young

May 9, 2024, 10:08 PM

Updated 15 days ago

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Students from Ossining High School welcomed home a newly paroled inmate who served 23 years in prison for second-degree murder.
They say Samuel Acevedo changed their lives.
The last time the students saw Acevedo, he was an inmate at Sing Sing in Ossining and the students were visiting the prison as part of a program to listen to inmates tell their stories as part of the "Youth Assistance Program."
Students said the stories sounded very familiar.
"It was very similar to the kids our age and what they're doing now," said student Na Chen.
"These high schools nowadays, they're different kids, but the issues are the same, and they took heed to that," Acevedo explained.
And according to Gavin Thomas Walters, the students heeded his advice.
"Some of the habits that other students exhibited, that all stopped. It was a total 180 for a lot off the students," said Thomas Walters.
"It was very inspiring, the way he changed himself, he realized he needed to do better, he needed to be a better role model for his kids," added Chen.
Acevedo says talking to these kids and preventing them from becoming another statistic has become his life's mission.
"You guys allow me to add substance to the words 'I'm sorry for all the people that I harmed in my life,' and I thank you for that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart," Acevedo told the students.
"Redemption isn't waking up one morning 'Oh, I'm redeemed' or asking for forgiveness, it's the actual life process that you go on after. And that's the lesson that I learned," said Thomas Walters.
On Thursday, Acevedo became a free man for the first time since 2001.
The students, who say their lives were changed because of him, say they couldn't imagine being anywhere else, and waited for him with open arms.
To find out more about the Youth Assistance Program, click here.


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