Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Lifeline to Success

By Ursula Madden - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - From behind bars, some Shelby County inmates are fighting for a second chance at citizenship.

Men and women are participating in county sponsored programs to learn life skills they can use once they're on the outside, and a new non-profit organization is trying to help.

DeAndre Brown is the Executive Director of LifeLine To Success.

"Our men and women are discouraged because they don't feel like there's an opportunity for them," Brown said in a recent interview. "They feel like there's no hope."

Brown served two years in prison on fraud charges, but was able to turn his life around. Now, he's trying to help other ex-cons.

"Some with minor infractions all the way up to aggravated robberies," he said.

Brown's Lifeline to Success helps inmates build basic skills, from improving resumes and filling out applications to hooking-up ex-offenders with potential employers who might give them a chance.

"We're trying to teach them life skills; trying to teach them there's a different choice.  There's opportunity available if you make your decision to do the right thing," Brown said.

The help starts before participants ever get out of jail. Six months before release, LifeLine starts assessing a prisoner's needs for housing and employment - the thing a prisoner needs most to transition from life behind bars to life in our neighborhoods.  

"All I ask is that the community would just give them a chance," Brown said. "To learn who they are, and not who they used to be."

According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, it cost taxpayers roughly $23,000 per year to house one prisoner.  That amounts to a little more than $10 million for state prisoners in Shelby County.

To learn more about the mission off LifeLine to Success, or how you can help, click here to visit the organization's website.

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