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Former Inmate Turns His Life Around

by | Nov 8, 2021

Goodwin Instructor Publishes Book of Poems

Stephen P. Campbell

Stephen P. Campbell

Stephen Campbell was just 20 years old when he started serving a nearly 10-year stint in prison in relation to a 2006 drug-related shooting in Hartford.

“I fell into the wrong crowd and was just trying to figure out life,” Campbell recently recalled. “I ended up in a situation where it went all the way left.”

But that experience led to a growth that has now resulted in Campbell publishing his own book of poems, titled “Sea Through Emotions: Poetry from a Mental Prison.”

“For me, it was stepping out of my comfort zone. I feel like that kind of sums it up,” Campbell explained.

He said turning his life around meant learning how to trust people and thinking about things differently. “It was feeling like I was worthy, really believing in myself and my ability and then just being open, being open to support.”

Stephen Campbell

A case manager referred Campbell to the BEST Chance program, offered by Capital Workforce Partners, which helps returning citizens with career services, training, and job placement. He eventually enrolled in Goodwin University in East Hartford, where he would receive a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing management.

Campbell, now a CNC lab tech and an instructor of CNC Machining at Goodwin – where he is now pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership – started writing poetry in jail.

“I was incarcerated, just having time on my hands and I had a friend that used to write me poetry,” Campbell said. He was encouraged by another friend to write. “He just encouraged me to write. I said, ‘write what?’ He said ‘write about anything, write about what you see.’ I always had the ability to put words together but I would never write it out. When I’m writing a poem, it just comes to me. It has to flow.”

The book contains 51 poems, which are broken down into four sections – Campbell’s past, growth and development, introspection, and relationships. The book has been finished for about a year, and Campbell tapped into the network he has built to research how to put together the book’s front and back covers and how to set up his own company so he could self-publish.

More than 100 guests recently attended a book release event in Hartford, Campbell said, including people he’s mentored. He currently serves at Co-Chair for the BEST Chance Alumni Group and mentors current program participants there. He recently finished a life skills program, which was through the BEST Chance program in conjunction with Fresh Start Pallet Products, a Hartford-based non-profit.

Campbell said the book may eventually be available on Amazon, but for now those who are interested in getting a copy of the book can watch for updates from his website,, where they can also sign up for his newsletter. He is also working on a book about his life experience, which he hopes will be out next year.

“My mission is to make an impact in the community and to get people to understand, regardless of what you’ve been through, you have value no matter who you are,” Campbell said.