HBO star visits Juvenile Justice Center spreading message of hope, understanding

GF Default - Michael K. Williams visits Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center
GF Default - Michael K. Williams visits Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center
Updated: Nov. 29, 2018 at 7:22 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - What is it like for a kid to be behind bars? That’s the focus of a new documentary, and part of it was shot in Ohio.

“This is not the end of the road. This does not have to define you,” said Michael K. Williams.

You may know Michael K. Williams as “Omar” in "The Wire,” or “Chalky White” in “Boardwalk Empire.”

His latest work may be the closest to his heart: a new documentary called “Raised in the System.”

“I am what you would call a crackhead, a cokehead. I did it all because I was in pain, and I hated myself so much,” Williams said.

He told a classroom of boys ages 9-17 that he had once been in their seats.

“The question is not if I’m going to get out of here, the question is what kind of man do I want to be when I get out of here. The answer to that is in the work that you put in to being a positive human being,” Williams said.

Williams, along with his nephew -- who spent 20 years in prison, and Derrick Hamilton -- who was exonerated in 2015 for a murder he did not commit -- talked with the boys.

“You had these young men say I feel hurt, I feel lonely. I don’t feel loved. That’s where the trauma is at. We need to chip away at that! That’s where the healing can begin,” Williams aid.

The group was brought in by local attorney Kimberly Corral.

“It turned out to be much more of an emotionally and powerful experience. I think it left us all feeling like whatever we are doing is not enough,” Corral said.

“Today I saw the beginnings of healing and it makes me hopeful for the future,” Williams said.

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