There’s been a lot of talk as of late about parolees and how to make sure they don’t offend again.
While changes to the law and system get debated, one group is addressing the issue, on the ground, through honest work.
James Curtis picks up trash on the side of a Rochester road because of a crime. Robbery in the 3rd.
But this might not be what you think it is. James might not be who you think he is.
“You can’t judge every book by its cover,” said James. “Everybody has a different upbringing.”
His cut a path to prison. He made a choice to take it. Now, he’s making a different choice.
“I’ve been on parole for three years, I have 18-months left,” said James. “No texts, no violations, and I’m thanking God for that and this program.”
This program is run by a non-profit called CEO. It intercepted James as he set foot into freedom. Without it, he thinks things would be different.
“I think I’d be selling drugs, maybe back in prison, who knows?” said James.
Instead, he’s working a job CEO created and CEO pays him for.
“It’s hard for people to adapt that fast and they usually go back to what they usually do, but this program gives everyone a chance to do that, you know, you don’t have to resort back to drug selling, robbery, stick-ups, you don’t have to do that, this program opens the door for you to be productive and everyone should take advantage who’s on parole,” said James.
“For those who are trying, for those who want to do better, we’re here,” said Terrance Simmons, CEO site supervisor.
Simmons says many parolees are motivated by progress, not punishment.
“Now they can say I’ve done something productive and they have a record to prove and we stand behind them and say, yes, they have a done a great job with us,” said Simmons.
What does that mean to James?
“Let’s see, I got back connected with my family, I’m working, I’m getting a real job, I just got an apartment, it’s all because of this program, they go beyond the call.”
They do that by cutting a new path, clearing the way to make a new choice.
CEO is in several cities and the local numbers are impressive.
It’s worked with around 11,000 parolees in Rochester since 2008 and in that time, it has helped 1,000 find a job.