MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – Hundreds of men and women enter the Shelby County Office of Corrections every month, but finding work after prison can be difficult.
Now one man is responsible for changing and improving his life after prison.
“When it comes to giving back, we want people to be responsible and accountable, but at the same time we want to give them a chance to really have the American dream,” said DeAndre Brown, Executive Director of the Shelby County Office of Immigration.
For many ex-offenders, after spending years behind bars, that dream can seem out of reach.
“One of the biggest problems is the lack of hope,” Brown said. “It’s very difficult to build hope in someone who can’t see the past.”
Brown tells Action News 5 it’s something he understands firsthand. He spent time in state and federal prison and now uses his experience to help those who want to make a difference.
“We prepare men and women for life,” he said. We’re not just focused on work, we’re focused on creating healthy, well-rounded people — we want to make sure they have the resources they need to successfully re-enter.”
For many, starting over starts at the Shelby County Office of Reentry.
“When I went back to the job market, I couldn’t find a job,” said Darrell Anderson. “So many doors were closed.”
Anderson spent decades in and out of prison, but decided to make real changes in 2019.
He says Director Brown, along with many others in the re-entry office, were part of his transition.
“It’s about getting life skills, preparation [and] deals with your mental health,” Anderson said.
“It’s not just about how many people you see in a day, it’s about the quality of the interaction,” Brown said. So when they come back, they will look for you.”
That level of care is what has kept Anderson coming back to the office.
“Words mean something. Life or death is in the power of speech,” he said. When I arrived at the Shelby County Office of Reentry, I was encouraged … this is not the end; you can do it.’
Anderson tells Action News 5 he met his wife through the program, started working in the maintenance department with MATA and made big emotional strides after walking through the doors.
Effort is important, he says, and those who want change must take the first step.
“It’s a win-win situation, but you have to be prepared,” Anderson said.
The new website of the region is called https://worktobreakthecycle.com/
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