Program helps newly released prisoners adjust

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Keeping newly released inmates out of jail isn't always easy, and a new program is working to help prisoners and the communities they are returning to.

Former inmate DeAndre Brown is now hoping to change the lives of prisoners across the Mid South.

"We're going to give them life skills; teach them how to balance a checkbook, and when they come home, help them get their ID," he said. "If they need help finding places to live, help with housing."

Brown is with Prison Fellowship, an outreach program helping inmates to prepare to reenter society through community service.
"Get the people to understand they have options, so when they come out they have a support system so they don't have to re-offend," he said. "We're trying to drop the recidivism rate so people don't have to go back."

The Shelby County Sheriff's Department estimates about half of all crimes are committed by ex-prisoners.  Eighty percent of people arrested have been arrested more than once.

Pastor Mose Walker Junior is one of many local pastors and city leaders who have been called upon to help offer ministry and support.  Walker says by giving back to the community, inmates like David Douglas can help reduce crime.

"They have the experience and they'll be able to talk to other young people in the community to help prevent them from getting into the same thing they just came out of," he said.

"It's like being a role model to the younger people, and just to show them there is something to do better than crime and taking away from the community," inmate David Douglas said.

Prison Fellowship says roughly 2,000 prisoners will be released back into Shelby County this year.

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