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Kent Mendoza

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Kent Mendoza

Statistics show that Latino youth are 40% more likely to receive an adult prison sentence as white youth. If you add to that the struggle and precariousness of being an undocumented immigrant, the consequences can be dramatic for youth. But with the right support system, young people have the ability to completely turn their lives around. Originally from Mexico, Kent grew up in a poor, gang-ridden neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the age of 17, he committed a crime for which he was tried as an adult; he was facing a life sentence. After fighting his case, Kent was sentenced to 7 years in prison. He got an honorable discharge, but was arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement as soon as he was released, as he was undocumented at the time. Kent’s perseverance and transformation convinced the ICE agent to recommend against deportation. Kent is now a full-time student majoring in Political Science and Business, and works for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition to encourage other troubled youth to turn their lives around. Kent also serves on California's State Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, advising the government on ways to improve the juvenile justice system.