Local Program Gives Ex-Cons Second Chance

9:22 PM, Apr 16, 2008   |    comments
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Winston-Salem, NC - A new law helps ex-convicts turn their lives around.  The Second Chance Act works with recently released felons to help them find jobs, so they don't end up back in prison.

President Bush signed the Second Chance Act into law this month.  But on program already helps thousands of ex-cons get their lives back on track.

Goodwill of Northwest Carolina and the Northwest Piedmont Council of Governments partner on the Project Re-Entry program.
It's helped thousands of ex-offenders, like Terez Black-el.
"My story is based on a lot of mishaps," said Black-el.  "Wrong decisions, bad decisions.  I was one of those kids that loved glitter and materialistic things."

Terez Black-el spent seven years in prison, now at 26, he's getting his life back on track.

Black-el thanks project Re-Entry for his second chance.

"I can utilize myself and I can be productive in society.  I am a true citizen, said Black-el"

Black-el graduated from the program in January, within 30 days he had a job.   Eight in ten recently released convicted felons find that same success.

The program's goal is to convince felons that work is better than crime.  "Unfortunately, we know that not everybody is going to do right," said Project Re-Entry coordinator Michael Thomas.  "There is that part of it but if an individuals are willing to make an effort on their own behalf they can too realize success."

Project Re-Entry employees say 70% of ex-convicts re-offend within three years of their release.   But project organizers hope with more programs, ex-offenders will beat those odds.

"Everyone deserves a second chance," said Thomas.  "Success is just waiting, for any man," said Black-el.
In the past 5 years, Project Re-Entry helped 1,300 former inmates find work.   And with federal money coming in, organizers say the program will help even more people in the future.

The Second Chance Act also includes programs to help recovering alcohol and drug addicts find employment.

To learn more about Project Re-Entry contact Michael Thomas at 336-724-3621 ext. 331

WFMY News 2

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