Re-entry programs helping ex-cons stay out of jail

Helping ex-convicts find work is key to keeping them out of jail, research shows.
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About half of the people who go to jail in Indiana commit more crimes after getting released. Re-entry programs aim to cut crime and give ex-convicts a second chance.

Bryan Moore works as a counselor, teaching ex-convicts about staying out of trouble. There is nobody better to hear from, because Moore is an ex-con himself.

"I am on the right track and, hopefully, I can help others stay on the right track, too," Moore said.

He got help from the re-entry program called "The Changed Life." Public Safety Director Troy Riggs believes if ex-convicts are put to work, we'll see fewer crimes like homicides, which are up from last year at this time.

Dr. Willie Jenkins runs the city's re-entry program, recruiting businesses to hire ex-cons.

"There are a lot of ex-offenders in our community and unless we get the idea that we are willing to give them the chance to make a difference, it's not going to work," Jenkins said.

Four out of every 10 Indiana offenders go back to prison within three years, according to the Pew Research Center.

Moore started getting locked up as a teenager and kept re-offending over and over.

"I knew I wanted to do good, but I never thought about putting in the works of doing good," he said.

Now, thanks to re-entry, he's one less person police have to worry about on the streets.

Just like with Moore, the success of re-entry is finding a job. All of the lawnmowers at an Indianapolis shop will be repaired by ex-cons.

"You can have all the good intentions in the world and people just keep slamming the door in your face," Moore said.

That's a door the city hopes to open to more ex-cons to help shut down more crimes.

Right now, there are about 5,000 people in Marion County alone who need help through re-entry programs and organizers citywide need both small and large businesses to consider hiring ex-convicts.

Jenkins is working on a new re-entry blueprint that will actually start the first day someone is locked up.