Felons Get Help Through New Re-Entry Program

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(Memphis)  The state, city and county are joining together to help ex-offenders have a smoother transition back into society.

The Memphis Shelby County Office of Re-Entry officially opened its doors today.
The number of ex-offenders that are re-arrested is extremely high in Memphis.

forty percent of those who commit crimes and do their time will find themselves in prison again.

This program is designed  to reduce the rate but already there are questions about if its inclusive enough.

Larry Bowman, ex-offender, "That's what they use is my violent past. That was in '89. I'm 42 years old."
Bowman is an ex felon and told us he's left his criminal ways behind him.

However, 14 months out of prison and he continues to be turned down and looked over for jobs.

He gets emotional when he talks about not being able to provide for his family, "What can a person do? It's hard out here. We try to do the right but won't nobody give nobody no opportunities."

More than 100 people associated with criminal justice gathered today for an announcement about a program to help ex-felons. 

The city, county and state each have programs but today they officially announced they are forming one unified re-entry program that will target 160 men and 40 women who are currently incarcerated in state institutions.  

"The vital link is preparing the offender for the free world. Getting them back acclimated," said Shelby Co. Mayor Mark Luttrell.

SCLC Memphis applauds this effort but says in the past they haven't gotten support from some of the participating agencies in helping former inmates find jobs, namely the city's Second Chance program.

News Channel 3 asked Memphis Mayor Wharton about their complaints, "Many individuals have more than one felony and that just rules them out so this is why it comes under so much criticism but by combining it with the re-entry program we'll be able to take in more individuals."

However, the SCLC says to put a dent in the repeat offender rate help must also go to those like Bowman who are already released and living on the outside of prison walls.

The new re-entry program doesn't focus just on job training and job placement.

It also helps inmates meet basic needs like food and housing once they're released.

hose who sign up will be closely monitored on the outside.

Sex offenders are not eligible for this program.