Offenders graduate from transition program in Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Offenders graduate from transition program in Dubuque

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Ten hats for the first graduating class of Real Talk On Elm Street, a program to help people in jail transition back to civilian life.

"It's a really big day for me, it's almost like being reborn. For people in the community to recognize criminals," said Casandra Richard.

Except, they've served their time, including at the Correctional Facility in Dubuque. While there, they took part in learning financial and job skills for release. Also getting words of encouragement along the way.

"It will be okay. God's got you, and you're gonna make it, and you're beautiful and you're strong," said Amy Gerhard.

These participants receiving diplomas for completing the program. That's an accomplishment at any corrections facility.

The man behind it all is founder of the Fountain of Youth non-profit organization, Caprice Jones, who is a former offender.  He was visibly overcome with emotion and hope. "Statistically it's expected for you not to make it, but you are rising above the storms of disappointment," he said.

Family members showing support, but also pleading them to change for good. "And just please, let the dear God Lord help you just on the way and just keep on going. Don't go back, the drugs and the alcohol, don't ever go back to 'em okay," said one parent.

There were 10 graduates. However, there were 16 total participants in the program. Some were not able to attend the graduation because they were sent back to prison or for other reasons.

Corrections professionals say reducing the recidivisim rate is a challenge.  Leaders of the program say they realize some people won't change their lives.

The next session starts in June.


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