Rodney and Tony Newton are reconnecting as brothers.

The two Owensboro brothers, separated in age by 10 years, have formed a bond around a candid podcast they started called "The Criminal Minded."

The podcast, hosted by Rodney Newton, largely focuses on his older sibling Tony Newton, 55, who spent a large part of his life in and out of prisons, which included a long stint inside Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville -- the state's only maximum and supermax prison. Episodes include "Contraband," "Riot!" and "The Hole."

Rodney Newton said he grew up visiting his brother in prison but never formed a real bond with him.

"All of our family photos are kind of in front of the same (prison) wall; the only thing changing in those photos are the vending machines in the background," Rodney Newton said.

Although the podcast, which is about to enter its second season, allows Tony Newton to provide a firsthand account of a Kentucky prison inmate, it also explores his journey of turning his life around through drug rehab and becoming a Christian.

"The person he is today is someone who is serious about his recovery and serious about not going back into those situations," Rodney Newton said. "... But it veered more from just the (prison) stories to where he is today in his life and in his recovery."

The brothers were raised on Pennbrooke Avenue by their single mother. However, the brothers would take different paths in life.

"She worked a lot so I ran the streets a lot," Tony Newton said. "That's where my story begins on Pennbrooke. I didn't have much to look forward to. I just run the streets and did what I wanted to do and got into a lot of trouble."

And at age 17, Tony Newton found himself in jail for the first time.

At that time, Tony Newton said he was committing burglaries and stealing cars to go joyriding.

"It was for no particular reason other than just to get some drugs and alcohol," Tony Newton said.

Rodney Newton said he's never forgotten seeing his big brother in handcuffs.

"One of my first memories is coming down the stairs and finding the police at the door," Rodney Newton said. "They were there to arrest my brother and take him away."

Tony Newton said he's not proud of his criminal past and wants to use his experience as a cautionary tale.

"I didn't want the podcast to seem like I was glorifying any of the scenarios I talk about on the podcast," Tony Newton said. "Ultimately, I want to help somebody along the way to not go through what I've been through. That was the whole point of the whole podcast in my mind."

While on parole in his early 20s, Tony Newton's criminal activity would escalate into armed robbery that would send him to the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

According to Tony Newton, he entered a convenient store on Carter Road and "fired some shots" and "forced the owner to open the safe."

"Today, I look back on that and I can't believe I did that," Tony Newton said. "I don't even know why I did that or what would make me do something like that."

While Tony Newton was serving time, his younger brother was doing his best not to make the same mistakes.

Rodney Newton said he didn't want to end up in jail like his older brother.

"A lot of people today would say I'm really lucky," Rodney Newton said. "Because I didn't want any of that, I stayed away from that and I kind of stayed away from that type of crime and that kind of lifestyle. I still did a lot of things like kids do, that you probably shouldn't be doing, but I survived it and kind of grew out of it. I just started a life -- a normal, boring life, going to work, getting married and having kids."

Tony Newton is celebrating a year of sobriety through attending AA meetings and has also embraced Christianity.

Tony Newton said he's slowly turning his life around, and he hopes it will come out through the podcast.

"It's been a good past year; it's been better for me than a long time that I can really remember," Tony Newton said. "... I have a spiritual relationship with God where before I knew about God but I didn't know God."

The brothers will be returning in August with their new season of "The Criminal Minded," which can be found on their Facebook page, iTunes and other podcast apps.

Rodney said they will record two episodes per month that will average about 45 minutes in length.

"Our second season's gonna heavily focus on the recovery aspect," Rodney Newton said.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299.

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