Local program helps former inmates get back on their feet - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local program helps former inmates get back on their feet

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Genio Ruiz talks with KWWL about how his life has changed through the RISE program. Genio Ruiz talks with KWWL about how his life has changed through the RISE program.
LINN COUNTY (KWWL) -

A local program is helping former inmates of the Linn County jail get a new start. 

The program is called RISE and it's all about second chances. 

"I was busted for manufacturing methamphetamine and walking down the street," says Genio Ruiz of Cedar Rapids. 

Ruiz was in and out of the Linn County jail for 15 years until one day he wanted a new way of life, so he filled out an application for the RISE program. 

"I got tired of living the way I was living and being an outcast, a menace to society and today I want to be part of society," Ruiz tells us. 

The program has been going strong for two years, navigators visit inmates at jail and talk to them about what comes next. 
"We talk about things that they will face when they get out  of jail," says Mary Crandall, a Navigator for RISE. 

RISE helps inmates find jobs, housing, food and clothing. 

"We started knowing that there were all these people coming out of the Linn County jail that were going to return to the Linn County jail because they had no help," says Maridee Dugger, Coordinator for RISE program. 

The program has helped many former inmates get on their feet, pictures of those they have helped line their walls. 

"People that have been in trouble we aren't all bad. We have made some bad choices in our life and I'm just thankful for who do give second chances and don't judge us," says Ruiz. 

Ruiz now works at Via Sofia's Italian Kitchen, we spoke with his boss John Khairallah. 

Khairallah tells us they don't just hire anyone but if someone is willing to change they like to help, he says he could tell Genio had a good heart. 

RISE is a nonprofit that survives off of surplus funds from the county as well as many generous donations from people in the community. 
    

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