(RNN) - Chuck Colson, who served time amid the Watergate scandal and later founded the world's largest outreach to prisoners, has died.
He was 80 years old.
The presidential advisor turned prisoner turned evangelist passed away from complications after a March 31 surgery to remove a pool of blood clotted on the surface of his brain. The surgery was prompted after Colson was overcome by dizziness during a speech.
A statement released Wednesday by Jim Liske, CEO of Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries, read, "It is with a heavy, but hopeful heart that I share with you that it appears our friend, brother and founder will soon be home with the Lord."
Saying his "condition took a decided turn [Tuesday]," the statement goes on to say "doctors advised [wife] Patty and the family to gather by his bedside."
Chief counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969-1973, Colson plead guilty to obstruction of justice in Watergate-related charges. Though not directly implicated in the burglary, he was the first Nixon staffer to be incarcerated and served seven months in a federal prison in Alabama.
According to his official bio, Colson "admits he was guilty of political 'dirty tricks' and willing to do almost anything for the cause of his president and his party."
But the man known as the "White House hatchet man" later had a softening of heart, converting to Christianity and spending the rest of his life trying to prove he was a changed man.
"People think it was a jailhouse conversion — that my life fell apart and I converted. But I knew before that I was a different person. I began to have different values and a different attitude," he said during a 2010 interview with Slate.
When he got out of prison, he left much of his heart behind with his fellow inmates.
Fulfilling a promise to never forget those still behind bars, he began Prison Fellowship in 1976. The ministry has worked with thousands of inmates to prepare them for release back into the community. Through partnerships with churches, it also provides help with needs like housing, employment and transportation after inmates are out of jail.
Prison Fellowship does outreach in 113 countries.
"There's no way you can take a bunch of criminals, stick 'em in a dormitory where they sit around at night comparing the crimes they committed and how they're going to do it next time, and expect to rehabilitate them," he told Slate. "It's demeaning, it's demoralizing, it doesn't give people aspirations to do the right thing. It almost encourages the wrong thing. So I got out of prison and I realized: This isn't working."
Prison Fellowship also sponsors the Angel Tree program, which provides gifts to the children of inmates at Christmas. The program reaches around 550,000 children each holiday season.
Colson wrote more than 30 books during his lifetime, donating all royalties to Prison Fellowship.
In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for his work.
Colson hosted a radio show called Breakpoint, which reached an estimated 2 million listeners every day.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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