Julio Medina spent 12 years in prison after he was convicted of running a major New York drug ring. But he turned his life around in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York, one of the most violent institutions in America.
In Sing Sing, he found a way out. He earned a BA degree from the State University of Albany and a Masters of Divinity Degree from the New York Theological Seminary. And when he was finally released, Medina was ready to leave his drug dealing days behind him. Which he did, in a remarkable way.
He founded the Exodus Transitional Community, an East Harlem organization that offers a second chance to former inmates seeking a new life and a job. In 2004 then President George W. Bush lauded Medina’s work in his televised state of the union address. Medina is now the CEO of Exodus, which has expanded to Poughkeepsie and Newburgh, New York.
Medina looks back at his life in drugs with regret. He recalls with sadness how people on the 1st and 15th of every month would pay him as much as $10,000 worth of food stamps to buy his drugs. “Those were the lowest moments of my life,” he recalled in a Conversations with Allan Wolper broadcast.