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Transitioning Ex-Offenders Back Into Society

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Michael Coghlan
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Flickr Creative Commons

Twenty-seven percent of Ohio's ex-offenders go back to prison according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That number is lower than the national average. Next year, a record breaking number of nearly 20 thousand ex-offenders will be released in Ohio. Community Voice producer Jonathan Platt has this story about one non-profit that is providing a way for ex-offenders to make the transition back into society.

On a dreary and rainy day, Bernard is looking for a job. Bernard and I are surrounded by booths representing different businesses and services representing jobs geared to hire the ex­offender. The Goodwill has racks of free business attire for the job interview. But Bernard is looking for something different.

"Through out the years I have worked with a lot of ex­offender programs and the main concern is the following through for people," he says.

Following through is just what the Adam Project is trying to do, a faith based non-profit started by Jerome McCorry, an ex­offender himself. Their job program requires ex-offenders to attend a five week workshop. The Adam Project's Charolette Franklin conducts the classes.

The ten members are all black men with ages ranging from 20 to 55. On the first week the ex­offenders introduced themselves to the group.

"It's amazing how many times we actually see tears in the first session and in the subsequent sessions as well. Certainly in that first session...there's a lot of regret," says Franklin.

Scores of participants have been employed by Delphi, a manufacturing arm for the auto industry. Michael Stephens was one of the first hires through the Adam Project. At 44, he spent his entire adult life doing time or selling drugs. Michael was facing thirty years for trafficking large amounts of heroin.

"I just felt that my life was over with, so I just got on my knees and prayed, I asked God for another chance, I prayed," he says.

Then his aunt called. Michael had heard something about the Adam Project. His aunt went to church with one of the directors. A couple of months later, his lawyer came to visit him.

"She said, Mr. Stephens you have a court date next week for a motion for house arrest. And I was, I said, what is going on."

At his hearing, Charolette Franklin from the Adam Project who had not yet met Michael, took the stand on his behalf. She told the judge that the Adam Project was going to get him through the program no matter what. A month later Michael was released from Butler County Jail and put on house arrest. Eventually the Adam Project set him up with a job interview.

"August 8th, I was in Delphi, working to 8, 10, 12 hours a day. You know, it was hard, my body was hurting because I hadn't ever worked. It was fun. It was a challenge for me," says Stephens.

Within a year, Michael was promoted twice and became a team leader with Honda which is part of the Delphi compound.

Several weeks after our original interview, Michael was picked up by police for parole violation. Michael falsified documents to make it appear that he was at work so he could be with his girlfriend who was having complications with her pregnancy. The Adam Project's Charolette Franklin attended the trial.

"And this came to the attention of the courts," says Franklin. "And needless to say, the judge, which is Judge Rice in our county was not amused and they had him picked up."

Judge Walter Rice had already granted Michael two years of house arrest and allowed him to work and go to church so he could prove to the courts that he was ready for society.

"And so this was a very bleak day, a very dark day, not just for Michael, but for the Adam Project, and so the Judge sentenced him to 240 months which is 20 years," says Franklin.

Judge Rice granted Michael's request to marry his girlfriend before he was sent to federal prison. They married in early August at the Butler County Jail.