SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A 37-year-old man who has been in Utah State Prison for nearly two decades for killing a rival gang member may soon get parole after demonstrating a potential to turn his life around.

Michael Anthony Figueroa was sentenced to six years to life at the Utah State Prison in 1999 for the 1997 death of David Castillo and injuring two others, the Deseret News reported .

Figueroa went before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole last month. He is scheduled to be paroled in 2022, but the board may consider releasing him earlier because of his progress.

Board member Denise Porter was complimentary of the work Figueroa has done since being sent to prison.

"You could have easily made some different choices," said Porter, also calling Figueroa an example to others.

Figueroa lives in the honors dorm at the prison and works in the graphic arts department, learning skills that he hopes will benefit him once he's released. He is also no longer involved in gangs.

But Figueroa said what really has helped him is a mental health treatment class that he participates in once a week.

"I know that I wanted to get out of prison and do good," he said. "But this class has actually allowed me to get deep inside myself to learn what my motivations are, what I can do to stay away from the stuff that got me into prison before."

Figueroa said he has had a lot of time in prison to think about who he is and his former gang lifestyle.

"I want to get out there and not only prove to myself, but prove to the people who have been behind me since day one that I'm not this person, I'm not the person who committed the crime," he said. "I know it's not going to be easy. Like you said, I've been here 20 years. A lot has changed."


Information from: Deseret News,