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Richmond jail ‘graduate’ celebrated on Steve Harvey

Posted at 11:22 PM, Oct 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-21 05:23:18-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Last week Mark Holmberg introduced you to Aziz Scott, a life-long criminal who has turned his life around through an innovative program at the Richmond jail.

Tuesday, Aziz was featured on the Steve Harvey Show which was taped several weeks ago, and the former inmate was celebrated at a most unusual watch party at the Richmond Justice center, the place he used to call home.

Dozens filled the jail house conference room to watch Scott on national television.

Aziz Scott on The Steve Harvey Show

Aziz Scott on The Steve Harvey Show

"He's changed his attitude, changed his life, he's a good thing, a prime example of the great program that we have going on here,” said Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody.

In addition to the sheriff and Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham, two audience members had a special interest in Scott's story.

"It's good to see, you know, someone coming from where I'm coming from, doing something positive, and making a change," said Terence Williams, currently an inmate at the jail who is enrolled in the program.

"When I came to the program, I didn't want any parts of the program,” said Michael Wright, who entered the jail more than a year ago, on July 4, 2014. “They just put me in there. I tried to get out of it but he talked me into staying."

Justice Center watch party

Justice Center watch party

The REAL program - Recovering from Everyday Addictive Lifestyles - aims to change addictive behaviors, a tall order for a 53-year-old lifelong criminal who used to sell cocaine and use heroin.

But Scott himself points out the support he's gotten since graduating in August from both jail and the program have been crucial.

"I get good feedback from here because I can come up here and speak to people without being an inmate,” said Scott. “I can come here as a person, as a civilian."

He said making better choices has helped him see the reason he wants to succeed to be there for those who need him. "My kids, they get positive feedback from teachers, from principals, and all them in the school,” said Scott. “My wife, she feels proud, she's happy, she's smiling."

Even hardened grown men like Williams and Wright hope to keep smiling if Scott proves a successful role model not just in pictures but in life.

Steve Harvey provided $5,000 to help move Scott's family from his old neighborhood.

Scott will also be featured on “This is Life with Lisa Ling” on CNN Wednesday.