Re-entry program provides new path for successful graduates

By Theresa Schmidt, Reporter
KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) – There’s a saying – your life doesn’t get better by chance; it gets better by change.  And that was the theme of a graduation held Thursday for four men who were in trouble with the law, but who are now on paths to a better future. A lot of people who get in trouble with the law find themselves at the courthouse. But this day, four men were in court because they seem to have found new paths.

They are graduates of the Geo Services Reentry program which seeks to help those who’ve been on probation or parole transition into society and not get into trouble with the law again.

Due to the stigma associated with their criminal pasts, three of the four asked that their names be kept private.

But they’ve successfully completed their re-entry program at Geo Reentry Services.

“Our graduates – they have successfully passed all drug screens at the daily reporting center.  They were really good in our classes such as parenting, anger management, substance abuse, life skills, as well as social skills,”   said Program Manager Courtney Kirby.

It’s been a rough road for some, but they said they are forever changed.

“I’ve been through the greatest challenges of my life 0 worse than when I did six years in prison. I was doing $200 worth of heroin every day, sitting on the couch. My eyes have been opened to walk a path,” said one graduate, who asked that his name not be published.

State District Judge David Ritchie offered the men words of encouragement and gave advice on how they can move beyond past mistakes.

“You’ve got to have the humility to recognize that you can’t do it on your own. You’ve got to have a support system; you’ve got people here and you’ve got to have the humility to recognize that it’s through God’s grace that you are able to overcome the addiction and the other obstacles in your life,” he said.

Graduate Stafford Vital wants to give hope and inspiration to others.

“I’m a changed man and what I can say about the program, it works. It works! To the other participants sitting in the audience, keep on doing what you’re doing. No matter what don’t stop.”

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