JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man with a criminal record proves that anyone can redeem themselves if they are willing to make better choices and surround themselves around good people who care about them.
News4Jax first met Sam Hughlon in May 2019, when he had just been released from prison after serving seven years of a life sentence for armed robbery. The charge was reduced to simply robbery after he won an appeal on the grounds of evidence that was not presented during his trial, so he was released back out into society with no job, no home, no money and only the clothes on his back.
But instead of turning back to a life a crime to make ends meet, Hughlon said, he became a member of a church.
“The church helped me out. Then while hanging out with my church family, I built myself up,” Hughlon told News4Jax on Monday.
Hughlon is now employed with Synergy, a local solar company that provides solar energy to homes. His job is to go door to door to drum up business from homeowners who are interested in using solar energy. But an honest job and income are just part of his achievements since leaving prison.
“I’ve never had a license and didn’t have one before I went to prison. Now I have a license. I have a vehicle. I have a house," he said. "I have a life.”
It’s a life far different from a former life of being a habitual offender.
“That life sentence hurt. That life sentence crushed me,” he said.
It may have crushed him. The odds of him returning to prison within his first year of freedom were high, so he said he had to learn to be around positive people and have positive thoughts about a better life.
“They’re saying the odds are, you’re going back to prison. You’re going to be violated on this and this, but if you get out and really dedicate yourself and work really hard, you can succeed out here," Hughlon said.
Hughlon has two more months of probation left on his reduced sentence and he credits both his probation officers for helping him stay positive. He also said he hopes his story will inspire others who are about to go where he has already been.