Ex-con tells story of jail lessons and second chances

Thirty minutes on a dark December night in 1996 left R. Dwayne Betts irreversibly changed.

It was the first time Betts, known as a smart, straight-edge and funny guy, had ever held a gun. The pistol fit cozily into the hands of the 16-year-old, who tapped quietly on the window of a dark green Pontiac Grand Prix. The noise startled the middle-aged man sleeping in the car.

In just 30 minutes, Betts dedicated his first crimes: an armed theft and carjacking. They were felonies that landed the teenager in Virginia's adult jail for nearly nine years.

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