He is a former gang member who has been shot and stabbed, but he says now God is inspiring him to do better and make a difference. Police admit there are gangs in Mobile, and Kevin Newton may have some answers to help them stop the violence.

Newton has the resume of a prisoner, and he has served time in prison, but he spoke Friday to the Mobile Police Department's Cyber Intelligence division on its "Echo Stop Live" podcast about his story.

Newton said right after high school, he married and had a child. It wasn't long before his wife left with their child, and he lost everything. He entered gang life which led him to serve four years in prison.

Newton said through counseling, he learned he was seeking love, which led to his gang activity. He claimed that his parents were working hard to keep food on the table during his younger years and could not spend quality time with him.

"I had good parents," Newton added. "They tried their best. They were trying their best to raise us and do what they were supposed to do."

But like so many children in Mobile, Newton grew up with an empty feeling. He said he struggled with loneliness and during idle times, he struggled to fill the void.

The last time he was put behind bars, Newton was facing 20 years in prison at the age of 35. He said at that point, he hit his knees and gave his life to God. A judge in Mississippi gave him another chance, and he entered Big Fish Ministry in Foley.

"When you really get that encounter with God, and he's got you weeping on your knees, there's nothing like it," Newton explained.

As for his current situation, Newton said his view of the world and the things in it is different than ever before. He said not only does he have respect for himself but also for what law enforcement is doing.

"They're out here trying to serve and protect us," he said. "It's just a different outlook on life. I want things now. I want to do better for myself now. Back then, I didn't care. I didn't care about what happened to me."

Newton said he had changed everything in his life, down to the music he listens to. He owns and operates Solid Foundation Countertops in Foley and says he has been blessed with steady work. He also works with Frontline Ministries to reach youth.

"I wish more than anything people could just get what I got, and that's Jesus," Newton said.

The Mobile Police Department started the "Echo Stop Live" podcast in October as a way to connect to the community and inform citizens about what is happening in the city. In Friday's podcast, it released a promotional video about the impact of gangs on children.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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