Longtime Richmond inmate’s turnaround story makes national TV

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Aziz Scott was one of the worst inmates Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody has seen in his 47 years of law enforcement.

"On a scale of one to 10," Woody said, "he was a 9 1/2."

Scott, a career drug dealer who has spent more than 30 of his 53 years locked down. He was a ringleader in the old City Jail's Felony-2 tier, a compound so notorious and rough, the inmates basically ran amok.

What better place to try new programs to get inmates to completely re-think their worlds?

The jail's REAL program, among others led by inmates and motivated counselors, slowly took hold in F-2. Now it's on solid footing at the brand new city jail.

Aziz and Mark

Aziz Scott and Mark Holmberg

And one of its roughest inmates became one of the leaders of the turnaround mission there.

"Yessir," Woody said, "I've never seen one turn around like this."

On Tuesday, Scott will tell his story on "The Steve Harvey Show."

And on Wednesday, he and one of the jail's programs that helped him will be showcased on CNN's "This is Life with Lisa Ling."

One of 14 children in New York City whose father died young, Aziz said he figured he was doomed. He has been shot twice, stabbed, beaten severely and has lived in abandoned buildings.

But it was love that motivated him to become a ringleader for positive change instead of all the negative.

Not just the love of his children, he said, but the love that grew in the program, one that he continues to participate in now that he's out, living with his wife and children and working as a painter.

Yes, the programs are about anger management, impulse control, addiction, how to interview for jobs, etc.

But Scott said it was the caring that motivated him to truly work those programs. For example, he said, when the sheriff helped his children get new clothes for school, he knew "they had my back."

He wants to do the same for other repeat offenders.

"If I reach one, that's good," Scott said. "Maybe that one will reach somebody and we just keep it going on from there."

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