Director of Inside Programs
Sam Lewis is the Director of Inside Programs at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). As a former Lifer he understands the various obstacles facing the prison and reentry populations, leading him to become a passionate advocate for both. Sam previously worked with Friends Outside Los Angeles County (FOLA) in the roles of Job Specialist, Case Manager, Employment Programs Supervisor and Project Director, roles that reinforced his commitment to second chances for formerly incarcerated men and women as they transition back into society.
At the tender age of seven, shortly after his mother and father filed for divorce, his troubles began. By the young age of 14 he had attended seven different schools in seven different neighborhoods. He was labeled by teachers as disruptive and angry, and was repeatedly told that he would not succeed. By the age of 16, while living in South Los Angeles, he dropped out of high school and became heavily involved in gangs. By 18, those actions led to a 15-year- to-life sentence of which he served 24 years.
During the seventh year of his incarceration Sam finally reached a pivotal point of change, when his seven-year-old daughter, who was visiting, softly whispered to her dad, "Can you stop fighting?" Her small request resonated with him. He began to transform himself through participation in Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) workshops, self-motivation, and higher education. Sam earned a certification as an AVP Team Coordinator/Facilitator and assisted in creating three Inmate Leisure Time Activity Groups (ILTAGS) with an intense focus on rehabilitation and release. He went on to receive an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies that allowed him to help other inmates with Habeas Corpus Writs, administrative appeals and other legal documents. Sam was denied parole eight times but despite the many obstacles of incarceration he never gave up and earned another Associates Degree in Business Management.
Since being granted parole in 2012, Sam has completed his BSBA degree from Indiana Institute of Technology, graduating with honors Magna Cum Laude. Sam has remained active with AVP, was recently elected to the State Steering Committee, and continues to encourage others to live non-violent lives. He has also earned a Hazmat Department of Transportation (DOT) Train the Trainer Certificate from the United Teamsters organization that allows him to teach Hazmat DOT 8.0 Awareness to others. His intense enthusiasm as an advocate pushes him to continuously seek improvement for himself and other newly released parolees.
Follow Sam on Twitter: twitter.com/samwlewis1