Former gang member shares experiences with criminology students at Fresno State

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Gabriel Hernandez has worn many hats in his 39 years. Tuesday night, he was a pastor recounting the crimes he committed earlier in his life. (KFSN)

Gabriel Hernandez has worn many hats in his 39 years. Tuesday night, he was a pastor recounting the crimes he committed earlier in his life.

"The very thing I said that I would not let any one do to my family, I did to them."

Hernandez grew up in a troubled home with an absent father and a single mother-- an environment that lead him to a devastating lifestyle on the streets.

"I remember, a vivd memory of looking out the window and seeing a guy standing on the corner and thinking, 'well that's what a man must be because at least he doesn't leave.'"

By the time Hernandez was a young adult he was hooked on meth and became addicted to carjacking's-- and one day, beat and dragged a woman out of her car, because he didn't feel like walking.

"I'm ashamed of that-- I remember thinking that day man she fought me so hard but I found out that she had two kids in the backseat of her car. "

It was that stint in prison where Hernandez opened up a bible and found enlightenment that has led him to his current calling.

"Pretty much, for the last 11 years I've been just talking about how God changed me and how I used to destroy one community and how now I want to benefit the communities."

But some choices still haunt Hernandez-- like his influence that led his younger siblings to use drugs, which is a mistake he is still trying to redeem now.

"I still get judged, I still get labeled, there's still a lot of obstacles in my way."

Hernandez is hoping people show him a little grace as he makes amends, working with at risk youths, hoping to stop the country's future from making his past mistakes.

Criminology professors said every year more than 600,000 people return from incarceration and they hope this story helps society play a more positive role in that process.
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