(NEXSTAR) – A New Orleans woman who was imprisoned at the age of 19, served her sentence but was saddled with a crushing payments from a judge-mandated $1.9 million in restitution can now put that part of her life behind her.
“I think I’m still trying to soak it in,” Syrita Steib said Wednesday, according to WWL-TV. “[I’m] really, really thankful to God that he can use any vessel to bless you.”
She was one of the over 140 people – ranging from Steve Bannon to Lil Wayne – to receive a pardon from President Trump.
Steib was sentenced in 2000 for stealing cars in Texas and setting fire to a dealership as a teenager. She was given 10 years in federal prison, 20 years in state prison and the hefty monetary penalty.
After serving nine years behind bars, she was released and dove right back into academics.
“School was one thing that I really excelled in so when I got arrested, I had a full scholarship to Xavier in physics and engineering and I also was in the military and when I got out, I just knew I needed to go back to school,” Steib told WWL.
She has since helped pass the 2017 “ban the box” bill to keep college and university applicants from having to reveal their criminal history. Steib said she was inspired to work on the bill after her own obstacles trying to apply to universities after she was released. Steib graduated from LSU Health and Science Center in 2014.
She has also founded Operation Restoration, a group that helps woman succeed in life after incarceration.
“It’s a possibility that you can leave behind your mistakes and be completely transformed,” she told The New Orleans Advocate.