Like thousands of others who leave prison every year, Rodeo Van Bladel re-entered society in 2017 wanting to start fresh, finish parole, and live as a free man. He knew the odds didn’t favor him. Nationwide, more than 80 percent of people released from state prisons get arrested again. In California, where Van Bladel lives, the odds of staying out versus going back are 50:50.
For someone with Van Bladel's rap sheet—multiple violent felonies and four state prison stints—the odds were even tougher. Officials considered him at “high risk” of committing a new crime. He had been “that monster,” the absent father, the man who just didn’t care. He was stuck with that past, but now he wanted a different future. This story follows one man's journey as he tries to leave behind a criminal past and start anew. Along the way, he faces endless obstacles that come with life after prison—parole restrictions, employers who don't want to hire ex-cons, bills, his own mistakes, and a past that won't let him go easily. Can he beat the odds?