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For years, Jeff made big bucks dealing drugs. Then, his high-rolling lifestyle came to a sudden end. Federal agents raided his home and arrested him for drug trafficking and conspiracy.

A jury sentenced Jeff to 19 years in prison. "The worst day of my life was after the reality of being locked up set in," he says.

Soon, Jeff says prison became a catalyst for change. He began watching television news programs like 60 Minutes and reading newspapers. He also finished his first book, Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? by Haki R. Madhubuti, while behind bars. "I started to believe I was smart," he says. "I wanted to learn more."

Jeff enrolled in the prison's GED program. He also spent time coming to terms with the consequences of his choices and his regrets. "I saw a lot of things that I will remember for the rest of my life," he says. "[I saw] deaths, crack babies, men and women who were strung out on crack cocaine."
FROM: Why They Beat the Odds
Published on March 01, 2007