From Inmate to Innovator: The Extraordinary Journey of Inmate #289821 to ViaPath Technologies’ Team

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Gad Tobaly

Antonio Sadler’s journey from a decade in prison to helping shape the tablet technology that once provided him a lifeline epitomizes the power of resilience and redemption.

Antonio’s early life was marked by a series of run-ins with the law that lead to time in diversion programs, reform schools and, eventually, incarceration. He was arrested in his early 20s, already a husband and father to two young girls. “I was accused of crimes that I couldn’t defend myself against, leading me to plead guilty to a 15-year sentence,” Antonio said. “I served 10 years of that sentence.”

Inside the confines of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Antonio participated in a reentry center program that emulated a typical workday, instilling discipline and workplace skills. “I started as a dishwasher, which was the worst, and worked my way up to Chaplain’s Assistant,” he recalled. It was there that Antonio’s affinity for technology flourished as he learned and then taught others to use Microsoft Office –skills that would later become invaluable in his career.

“When tablets were introduced, it was a game-changer,” Antonio said. When the COVID-19 pandemic led to a widespread lockdown and the end of all family visitation, the resulting atmosphere was charged with stress and unease. “The tablets reduced tension, and for the first time I was able to sit on my bed while talking to my wife, not standing next to another guy,” he said. “Messaging and photos allowed me to communicate with my dad when chemotherapy prevented him from speaking.”

Antonio credits the positive and transformative impact of technology on his life in prison with steering him toward his current role.

Upon his release, Antonio embarked on a new mission with ViaPath Technologies, the company responsible for the prison tablets that had become his mental health salvation. Antonio’s enthusiasm is infectious as he discusses his role, where he manages ViaPath’s messaging product and oversees the digital delivery of half a billion messages each year, including digital greeting cards.

“For digital greeting cards, I try to make them humorous and express feelings that resonate with incarcerated individuals and their families,” Antonio said.

But Antonio’s journey is also tempered by the harsh realities faced by many upon release. He has witnessed the spectrum of reentry experiences, ranging from the successful to the tragic. His voice turned somber as he reflected on the fates of two friends: one who found stability and happiness after 30 years of imprisonment, and another who suffered an overdose shortly after reuniting with his son.

It’s not just about personal redemption but also contributing to solutions that make a real difference in the lives of incarcerated individuals and their families.”

Antonio Sadler

These contrasting outcomes underscore the significance of the work Antonio now champions: the development of the technology and programs that support the rehabilitation and reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals. Antonio believes deeply in this cause, stating, “I’ve been seeing a growing focus on second chance opportunities, which gives me hope that the tide will turn.”

The challenges Antonio faced in acclimating to the world of technology and corporate structure were substantial, yet he navigated them with determination. “The biggest challenge was familiarizing myself with technical terminology and understanding how the technology works,” he remembered.
Now, as he looks back on his remarkable journey, Antonio does so with a mix of surprise and pride. “It’s astonishing to reflect on how a tablet in prison not only transformed my career trajectory but also had a profound impact on my family, mental health, and self-perception,” he mused.

His role at ViaPath extends beyond his job description; it’s a platform from which he can serve and represent those he once stood among. “They have a true advocate in me,” he said. 

Antonio Sadler’s story is not merely one of personal redemption; it’s an inspiring testament to the difference one individual can make when he is driven by purpose and embraces transformative opportunities. He has bridged the gap between incarceration and reentry while contributing to solutions that touch lives both within and beyond prison walls.

Gad Tobaly serves as the President of International Operations for ViaPath Technologies, the foremost global supplier of comprehensive correctional technology solutions. The company supports more than 2,500 facilities and aids two million incarcerated individuals around the world, operating both directly and via in-country partners. Tobaly, who is fluent in four languages and possesses a Master’s degree in Management Information Systems, brings extensive expertise in global expansion and enterprise software management.

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