On Monday, Governor Polis commuted three sentences. Eight years ago, former Governor Bill Ritter granted clemency to Taylor.Author: Katie EastmanPublished: 5:44 PM MST December 24, 2019Updated: 5:44 PM MST December 24, 2019
DENVER — Sean Taylor helps people because he wants to make the good outweigh the bad.
"I am out here working for my victim," he said. "And as long as I keep that in my mind and in my heart, more and more people will continue to get out of prison and stay out of prison. I’m committed to that because of the person I harmed."
In 1989, Taylor was a 17-year-old involved with a gang. He said he was driving by a rival gang member's house and shot into it. The bullets hit and killed 17-year-old Dean Rahim.
"That’s my fuel to work," said Taylor.
For the past 8 years, he's worked at the Second Chance Center, helping former inmates stay out of prison and on the right path.
If he had served his original sentence, he would still be in prison.
But he got out in 2011 because former Gov. Bill Ritter commuted his sentence. Instead, Taylor served 22 years.
It's the same amount of time Erik Jensen will have served when he gets out by March of next year.
On Monday, Gov. Jared Polis commuted Jensen's sentence citing the fact that he has a strong support system at home, and that he is making strides toward a bachelor’s degree and helped found a faith-based counseling program in prison.
Jensen was originally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in August 1999 for helping his friend kill his mom when Jensen was 17. Earlier this year, a Douglas County court gave him 40 years with the possibility of parole following a Supreme Court ruling that gave juvenile offenders the opportunity to seek new sentences.
“He’s one of the most deserving people for clemency," said Taylor, who became friends with Jensen while he served time at Limon Correctional Facility. "He’s a focused individual who wants to help with prison reform, with addiction counseling, with gang intervention. Erik can help with it all. He’s cultivated his craft for helping people in prison. That’s Erik."
Taylor believes clemency is especially vital for people who were convicted as teenagers and turned into responsible adults in prison.
"We all make mistakes when we're kids," he said. "That’s why clemency is important for people who were convicted as children. It gives them a second chance at life."
As the deputy director of the Second Chance Center, Taylor is making sure his second chance isn't wasted.
"I hope that the good outweighs the bad," he said. "That’s all I hope. And so I’m just going to keep stacking it up."