Prison inmates were put in a room with nothing but a camera. I didn’t expect them to be so real.

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Prison inmates were put in a room with nothing but a camera. I didn’t expect them to be so real.

NBC Dateline producer Dan Slepian volunteered at Sing Sing Correctional Facility to create “Voices From Within,” an education initiative that addresses the epidemic of gun violence directly through the voices of inmates living with the consequences of their choices, and the victims left in their wake.

With just a camera in an empty room, one by one, the inmates enter to tell their powerful stories.

It took Julian Castillo 10 years in prison to begin to think about his choices and the people he hurt. He realized he couldn’t be there for his siblings. “That’s what made me change a lot. Because I took that away from other people. They didn’t have a choice — I did.” Not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about the lives he destroyed — and he’s not the only one.

“Looking back at my choices and my decisions, I suffer for that,” Tyrone Abraham, also in prison for murder, said. “My children suffer for that. My victims suffer for that. His family suffered for that. Society as a whole suffered for a choice that I made.”

Lawrence Bartley, who killed 15-year-old Tremain Hall in a packed theater on Christmas day, broke down when his victim’s dad took the stand. “His father called this kid his buddy. That was his buddy. I took his buddy away from him.”

Inmates understand they can’t change the past. But they’re trying to change the future by reaching out to kids about gun violence before it’s too late.

A hardened criminal breaks down at 4:33…

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