Updated: Monday, 17 Aug 2009, 8:19 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 17 Aug 2009, 8:19 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The controversy surrounding Michael Vick's reinstatement to the NFL has focused attention on efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders. Tony Dungy appeared with Vick at a press conference Friday and praised an Indianapolis offender re-entry program.
Michael Collier, 38, has not one, but two jobs. He drives a truck for DPW and works as a barber, a skill he learned while imprisoned for 10 years.
"[I] try to educate myself and most importantly try to allow myself the opportunity to be rehabilitated," Collier said.
He's determined to make the most of his second chance, a second chance that many ex-offenders complain is hard to come by.
"I try to show no weaknesses, try to be at work everyday on time, early and try to be as punctual as possible,” he said.
Advocates tout success stories like Collier's when promoting programs like Mayor Ballard's ex-offender reentry program, the same program Dungy endorsed Friday.
The mayor's program advocates employment of ex-offenders and hosts job fairs. Michael Ludy, a man convicted of robbery four times, was at one of those fairs in August of last year.
"By me having that many robberies, you know, didn't nobody want to hire me like because he had four chances and didn't do the right thing," Ludy said.
Ludy said he was sincere about his conviction to live a new
life. But a year later, Ludy was indeed convicted -- back to the
department of corrections.
Ludy's story is not unique. Of the 5,000 ex-offenders released into Marion County every year, 74 percent will commit another crime within three years. That's 3,700 repeat criminals.
But Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams believes in the mayor's re-entry
program because an ex-offender with a job is an ex-offender three
times less likely to commit another crime.
"Given the chance, most guys and women will do the right thing because they don't want to go back to jail," Williams said.
Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams is an ex-offender, and he said he's living proof that success is possible after incarceration.
Mayor Ballard says because 5,000 ex-offenders come back to
Marion County every year, helping find them employment is in
everyone's best interest.