Group aims to help former inmates stay on the right path

Group aims to help former inmates stay on the right path

Posted:
The program acts as the middle man bringing the former inmates together with the programs designed to help them. The program acts as the middle man bringing the former inmates together with the programs designed to help them.

By WHITNEY GOOD
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There is an effort in Knoxville to help former inmates get their lives back on track.

It's called Community Step Up.

Community Step Up leaders say the biggest problem for former inmates is not knowing where to go for help when they get out of jail or prison.

The program acts as the middle man bringing the former inmates together with the programs designed to help them.

Dozens of people met Saturday, some former inmates, some there to offer a hand up.

"They are stumbling because they do not know where to go to get help," said group organizer Dr. Joseph Kendrick.

Organizers of Community Step Up say many times when someone gets out of jail they want help reforming their lives, but they do not know where to go.

That is where the group comes in.

"They're anxious to find somebody who can help them so now we're putting them together today :05 we're making a marriage between the people who need the help and the people who can give it," said Kendrick.

"I've been out almost 16 months. I've kept a job since I been out. It's been hard. A lot of people tell me no, but my mama always raised me all people can do is tell you no," said a former inmate.

That is not their only goal.

"Seventy percent of African American males between the ages of 18 and 34 have a criminal history, have been in jail, are on probation or are on parole. That is a generation lost," said Pete Garza with the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

"In an area where the population is 10 percent of a certain ethnic group but we make up 50 to 75 percent of the prison population. Now that tells me right away that something is wrong," said Kendrick.

Their plan is to break that cycle through education, calling it a grass roots movement, hoping something will change for the better.

"With my nephews and my daughter, I always talk to them a lot because I really just don't want to see them continue the cycle," said a former inmate.

Community Step Up brings groups together who can help those former inmates find jobs, housing and organizations to join that can help keep them on the right track.

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