Everyone has a story to tell, but most never get a chance to tell it, until now. This is one man's confession.
What do an ex-Mormon, a gang banger and a teacher all have in common? They all have something to confess. All this week on HLN's Now in America, we're bringing you stories of real Americans dealing with the challenges, opportunities and temptations of life in America today -- and they're confessing their deepest secrets. Each day on the show, get an inside look into a life you'd otherwise never know.
Art Powell is a former gang member. He now calls the way he spent so many years of his life a "form of suicide." Like so many other young men, or boys, in this country, Powell joined an Atlanta gang when he was only 15 years old, and although he didn't realize it at the time, he spent many years trapped inside a vicious cycle of violence, drugs and refusing to live life the way he really wanted to. Powell became one of the top leaders of the group -- "I Refuse Posse" -- and says he took care of the gang's confrontations with rivals and anyone who attempted to get in the way of what they were trying to do.
Over the years Powell faced several serious charges: kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault. He was considered a mentor for the younger guys in the gang, providing them advice, weapons, drugs and someone to look up to. Powell says after growing up in an abusive home, those guys became his family. But after spending 11 years in prison, Powell's outlook on life, and his past life, has changed. Powell dedicated his time in prison to turning his life around and to helping others avoid the same fate.