Sheriff Gives Ex-Felon Second Chance

By Charles David Henry
Journalism Guild Writer

The universal axiom of “what goes around comes around” is one of those parables that have modest importance to a person until he experiences life’s full circle. Michael “Tiny” Hill Jr. is one of those persons. In a story published by The Hutchinson News, his circle began with a desire to box.

His mother introduced him to the fight game at age 6, which eventually led him to the Golden Gloves and Silver Mitten championships, and a chance at the nationals. But before he reached his full potential, he ignored his God-given talents, and filled his life with drugs and ultimately faced a possible 35-year sentence in prison, the story adds.

“When you’re making choices to use and get high, and have an addiction, I just had to have it. … It makes you ignore life-threatening situations, knowing you have a family that needs you,” he told The Hutchinson News. By the time he was 17, he was hooked on crack cocaine, and admitted he was addicted for 20 years. He was in and out of jail for a total of 12 years.

“God allowed me to get through some of that stuff to prepare me to help other people,” he told The News. That passion led him to Kansas, where he worked for Higher Ground’s substance-abuse program. There he got reacquainted with a former Drug Enforcement Unit officer named Randy Henderson, and his life began that turn-around cycle.

According to The News, Henderson had arrested, interrogated and investigated Hill multiple times. But despite these criminal encounters, Henderson and Hill developed an extraordinary bond.

After their paths crossed again, Henderson, who is now the sheriff of Reno County, hired Hill as the program director for the county’s correctional facility. “I needed this because I needed someone who could reach inmates,” Henderson told The News. The success of this experiment was exactly what Henderson expected from Hill.

The Reno County Correctional Facility has a total of seven groups which includes Peer Support and Substance Abuse Programs, GED, Anger Management, Seeking Safety and a mental health class. Since its inauguration, Hill has graduated six male and five female inmates at the jail from these life-skill programs, The News said.

“When I think about God, I think about when my case was going on,” he said. “Why was I found not guilty of that crime that I openly admit I played a role in? When I say, ‘Why me?’ I think about how God saved my life, and I think about where I’ve come from and where I’m at now.”

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