Awards Entry: In New Life Outside, Colorado Parolee Stumbles — Then Succeeds

February 17, 2016
Kevin Monteiro close-up #2
Kevin Monteiro was released from the Sterling Correctional Facility in northeast Colorado in June 2014. He had been in prison since the 1980s. 

On June 10, 2014, Kevin Monteiro stepped onto a prison van at the Sterling Correctional Facility in northeast Colorado. He traveled south for a couple of hours to downtown Denver and he was let off at the Greyhound Bus station at 19th and Curtis. It was the 56-year-old's first day of freedom since the 1980s--about three decades ago--and, to Monteiro, the world looked bizarre.

"Everything is out of place," Monteiro says. "I know where I’m at but everything is really, like, people had moved the furniture around."

Monteiro was convicted of 2nd degree murder in the 1980s for his part in a stabbing in Aurora -- what he says was a drug deal gone bad. He also says others were involved, but no one else was ever apprehended. 

The downtown Greyhound station is one of several drop-off points for inmates after release. Along with the ride from prison, Monteiro had been given a prison-issued debit card, but he says, that's about it. 

“I had a hundred dollars in my pocket and a box of books," he says about that first day. "No family, nobody.”

Monteiro's lonely journey on his first day of freedom is typical for Colorado inmates who leave prison without family or friends to turn to: a bus trip, a bit of money, and no one to turn to for guidance or support.