Inmates prepare for re-entry with inaugural program

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WHITEVILLE, Tenn. — Inmates at Whiteville Correctional Facility got a glimpse of life after their prison sentence. Organizations from across the state came to show them what is next. Inmates who are less than 100 days from ending their prison sentence are preparing for that day through the facility’s inaugural Inmate Re-Entry Program. “This is designed for the inmates to give them an opportunity so once they go back into society, they can start over again. It gives them a brand new chance,” Angela Johon-Sheffield said, who is a part of the Career Development Program at the facility. Organizations offered assistance to inmates ready to face the future. “Having a felony in my past, it was a pleasure for me to come and talk to them and encourage somebody else that had a felony. To think it’s not the end of life, it’s just the beginning for you to start over,” Johnny Dodd said, who was the program’s guest speaker. Dodd has been on Jackson’s City Council and is the city’s vice mayor. Inmates were also presented with new opportunities coming in many forms, such as education. “If they could build a skill, that will help them get back on track. Meaningful, important work. Giving them a good honest life,” Willie Spencer explained, who works with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Whiteville. Community leaders came out to the facility not only to help with future plans, but also to encourage them for what they are about to face when they step back into the real world. “In a sense, it’s difficult because they’re nervous. They don’t know what to expect. They don’t know what to look forward to, so that’s why we set up the fair,” Assistant Warden Yolanda Pittman said. Leaders said it is about learning from the past, and looking into the future. “Just think outside the box, change your environment. Do some things differently. Change your attitude, appearance, there’s a lot of things like that you have to re-brand yourself,” Dodd said. 90 inmates were a part of the program. There are two correctional facilities, each holding more than 1,500 inmates. Inmates have the option to participate in the program and are chosen based on how close they are to parole.

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