New D.C. Office Helps Ex-Offenders Adjust After Jail - NBC4 Washington

New D.C. Office Helps Ex-Offenders Adjust After Jail



    There's a new effort to help ex-offenders return to a productive lifestyle after time in jail in the District. News4's Tom Sherwood reports. (Published Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013)

    Thousands of men and women leave jails and prisons every year then find themselves lost in the new world of social media -- a world that can be a key to jobs and training, but a new office in D.C. is focused on changing that.

    Mayor Vincent Gray held a ceremony opening a unique center on Martin Luther King Boulevard in mostly poor Ward 8 focusing on the many needs of ex-offenders re-entering society.

    Monique Ware, 34, spent five years and prison and then the past year fighting being another negative statistic: repeat offender. With help from the center, Ware has learned computer skills, earned a commercial driver’s license and learned apprentice-level electrician skills.

    “I can go in your house and hook up your receptacles and even start a fire if I want to,” she said.

    About 5,000 ex-offenders -- also called returning citizens -- are released from prisons each year, according to Office on Returning Citizen Affairs Director Charles Thornton.

    “They need guidance and direction,” he said. “This is health, this is education, this is employment, this is any need.”

    Ware says a motivated person will find help at the center if they're willing to work, too.

    “It’s about getting up, walking, taking a step, taking two steps and slowly progressing and moving forward until you’ll be able to get up and run.”