Ex-Con Tells Educators Don’t Give Up On Troubled Youth

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(Memphis) A safe future for our children is the goal of a two-day conference sponsored by Memphis City Schools.

Thursday and Friday, educators and community groups are focusing on the violence many of our kids encounter.

One of the key-note speakers brought in to motivate them is a guy who carries his prison mug shot everywhere he goes.

Eddie Spencer doesn’t run from his past. He takes it with him everywhere  he goes.

It is his Mississippi State Prison mug shot.

Spencer said, “That mug shot really shows the angry Eddie Spencer. The one that was hurt. The one that was going to get back at everybody.”

Spencer’s goal is to give encouragement to those educators and community volunteers who run into kids just like him, “A lot of times we look at a child's behavior and we automatically write them off."

He added, “We are so quick to put them out and not look at their behavior to find out why they are acting the way they're acting.”

Spencer says people wrote him off.

It wasn’t until he was a few years into his 9 year prison sentence that he reflected on the words of the last victim he robbed.

“You can have the money but you need to give your life to the Lord,” Spencer said the man told him.

Had someone helped him deal with the anger that brewed inside him, Spencer says his life may have taken a different turn.

He hopes that message drives those who work with young people to not give up on them, even those involved in gangs and violence, “Let them know that you can change no matter how far you've gone. You can turn around."