Talmedge Hayes first got in trouble with the law in 1989 at the age of 16. Just after his 17th birthday he was given multiple life sentences and spent 27 years in prison. Bryan Stevenson and a team of attorneys at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama went to the United States Supreme Court to argue that it is unlawful to give a juvenile a life sentence without possibility of parole for non-homicide crimes.
On May 17, 2010, the case of Graham vs. Florida was decided in favor of the youth. Upon entering prison, Hayes obtained his high school diploma in 11 months and in 1995 started working for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE), where he continued until his release on April 1, 2016. In addition to his high school diploma, he obtained several certificates in printing that enabled him to secure a printing job upon his release.
While in prison, he also took a self-betterment program called Lifers. Once released he attended the Abe Brown Ministries Ready4Work Hillsborough program and after completion began engaging on the program’s behalf with potential employers to highlight the reasons to hire individuals with criminal records.
Through this experience and friendship, he encountered several life coaches who give him sound advice on transitional life issues. The Lord’s Place, in Palm Beach County, helped contribute to his success through their transitional programs. Hayes now works for Palm Beach County in the Graphics Division as a Printer II, where he has been for the past two years. He has also transitioned into his own apartment and has a passion to mentor at-risk youth. He currently volunteers with Inner City Innovators, a group founded by Ricky Aiken to inspire and empower inner city youth to embody the change they want to see in their community.