Vinh Nguyen was found suitable for release during his first parole board appearance under a Senate Bill 260 youth offender hearing.
Thanks to self-help programs, Nguyen said he came to accept responsibility for his crime and seriously regret the harm he caused.
He credits VOEG (Victim Offender Education Group) as having the most important impact on him.
“VOEG gave me insight about who I was, where and how I went wrong, how I can do better, and become the person I am today, more loving and caring,” he said in an interview. “It also helped me redefine myself, to surround myself with a support network that I can come to when I need help. Most importantly, it helped me understand remorse and the pain that I have caused the victim’s family.”
Nguyen has been incarcerated for 20 years since the age of 16 when he was sentenced to 29 years to life for first-degree murder.
“Each one of us has the capacity to
work ourselves out of our own dark place”
“I now have the opportunity to make amends on a broader scale. I harmed so many people because of my crime. That is not something I want people to know me by; I want them to know that I have grown and can become a productive member of society by being of service to others,” Nguyen said.
“Today, I understand the pain I caused Mr. Sosa’s family to endure. Specifically, I understand that I took away their son, who cannot be replaced, that there will forever be emptiness in their lives, and I have to live with that.”
Nguyen’s turning point came when he found that he had a life sentence.
He sought out self-help groups early on, learned English, and obtained trade skills from vocational programs to better himself.
He said the message he wanted to give to other juvenile offenders is, “Each one of us has the capacity to work ourselves out of our own dark place, to free ourselves mentally through education and service, and to offer support to help each other by sharing our own experience.”
Vinh Nguyen paroled in January 2016.
– John Lam