An Albany State University professor is helping ex-offenders mainstream back into society by helping them find jobs, expunge records, and a host of other services.
Dr. Charles Ochie, chairman of the Criminal Justice Department at Albany State University, says many ex-offenders just need a second chance to get back on track, which is why he named the program Second Chance. Recidivism is caused when offenders are released from prison without being properly prepared or coached about life skills. Many times they repeat the same behavior to ensure that they have a place to live and eat.
Ochie said the program is intended to rehabilitate those who have been imprisoned. “The program helps them to become productive in society,” he said. “When they come back there are no programs in place to help them mainstream back in,” he said. So this program helps them to make the connection, gets them back in church.
The program offers its clients fi nancial and religious counseling. “Whatever we can do to help them reconnect we do that,” Ochie said.
The program started June 15. They currently have about 74 clients.
“When they get out of prison, they have a lot of issues. They have a record and can’t fi nd jobs,”
Ochie said. “They have housing issues, they lack education and often don’t have the skills they need to hold down a job.” The average prisoner has a fi fth grade to 10th grade education, he said. Some of the ex-offenders have drug abuse issues too. Ochie said his group has been funding the services. But they are trying to apply for funding.
“We are looking to serve the people who need it the most,” Ochie said. “Our door is open and anyone who comes through it will receive help.”
Offi ce hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a half day on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Ochie said 900,000 people are released into the community every year. “They go home without structure and 80 percent of them end up back in prison. They become depressed and hopeless.
Ochie is married and has four children