Twelve years ago, gang member Carlos “Bear” Rocha of Chicago’s Southwest Side was imprisoned for possession of a weapon. On the day of his bond, he and another inmate had a disagreement that turned tragically violent. Bear was sentenced to another 25 years behind bars. It wasn’t until Bear’s brother suffered a similar fate—in prison on the day of his own release—that Bear realized the full consequences of his actions.
CARLOS: I broke down because I thought that it was karma for what I had done. I thought that it was punishment for taking some else’s life here.
To find out how Bear is trying to mend his ways and reckon with the past, check out the audio above.
Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.
StoryCorps’ mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. This excerpt was edited by WBEZ.