DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A program in Durham is helping dozens of formerly incarcerated individuals reintegrate into society.
"The biggest thing is coming to society, coming back. Finding a job, landing a job, and being able to pay taxes, be an active person in society," explained Demetrius Lynn, the Durham Local Reentry Council Coordinator.
Lynn said the program is funded by a grant through NCDPS, and currently works with 52 clients; however, they have nearly 250 client referrals highlighting the demand to get in.
LaBrone Manley began coordinating with staff prior to his release. "A support system is a major part of your reintegration back into society. If you don't build a healthy support system, you will likely fall," Manley said.
He had previously served shorter jail sentences for misdemeanors and explained he had no support after his release. His most recent and longest sentence was 66 months and stemmed from two felonies. As his sentence wound down, he reached out for assistance.
"People pre-judge you based upon whatever your record is, or based on that you've been inside or based upon the past," Manley said.
Since his release, Manley has found employment and is now able to live on his own.
The Durham Local Reentry Council is hopeful they can make a difference in the nationwide issue of recidivism, which is when a person relapses into criminal behavior.
According to the National Institute of Justice, one study of more than 400,000 prisoners found that within three years, more than two-thirds of those that had been released were rearrested.
"They made a mistake. It's not the end of the world. Let's give them an opportunity to try and do better. You can't correct the mistake you made in the past, right? That's over with. So let's try to move forward. Let's try to do something positive," said Lynn.
Lynn has a felony conviction from when he was younger; he believes his experience allows him to relate to others dealing with similar circumstances.
"It's a connection that I have. Ultimately, I think it's my destiny that this is what I do," Lynn said.
The program is available to anybody 18 years or older, who lives or was convicted in Durham County, regardless of their offense.
If you are interested in learning more about the resources the program offers, click here.
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