Man granted second chance by Northam goes viral
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Governor Ralph Northam has granted more than 700 pardons over the last four years, which is a record for any Virginia governor.
That list includes a local man who's now inspiring change in a unique way.
At just the age of 18, Jesse Crosson was convicted of robbery and unlawful wounding and was sentenced to 32 years in prison. That's twice the maximum of sentencing guidelines.
This past August, he was granted a conditional pardon and released from prison. Now he's sharing his personal transformation and message of prison reform on TikTok, and going viral for it.
“This is my second chance," said Crosson.
He believes in second chances, which is why he's using TikTok to help others receive the same thing.
"Since I got a second chance, I would like to advocate for those who are equally deserving but don't necessarily get it, because the resources aren't available," Crosson said.
His message is catching on. In just the four months since his release, Crosson's TikTok account, @second_chancer, has built a following of 300,000.
"I thought TikTok was just dancing and cats and I had no idea," said Crosson. "All of a sudden, I had a platform to talk about what works and what doesn't work and what needs to be addressed."
His videos range from conversations about his own experience in prison, the use of solitary confinement as punishment and the lack of access to mental health care, all in the hope that it can improve the prison system and society.
“The vast majority of people who are in prison now are going to get out and yet we don't really provide the services and opportunities and the support that would really ensure that they would succeed on the other side," Crosson said.
His following has given him the ability to meet with lawmakers, including Northam, to speak about these issues, but mostly he wants to reach the public.
"Are we willing to look past the prejudice and see the person for who they are and are we willing to look past what someone has done on their worst day and see who they are today," asked Crosson.
In addition to his TikTok, Crosson is the co-creator of The Pri-Zen podcast and is also currently writing a book on his time behind bars and who he is today.