Summit of Hope Gives Second Chance to Ex-Offenders

Decatur -

It's an annual event that's giving hope to ex-offenders. The Summit of Hope gives ex-offenders and parolees a chance to find a job and take control of their lives.

Thomas Boone was one of the nearly 300 parolees and probationers getting a second chance. More than 60 vendors, including local employers, were at the Kings Orchard Community Center in Decatur, providing resources.

"It feels great," says Boone, "I just came to get information on jobs and further my education on HIV prevention."

The Summit of Hope event is hosted by the Illinois Department of Corrections. The summit aims at reducing the recidivism rate.

"Just because a person has been incarcerated doesn't mean that they're un-hireable," explains Marcus King, the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Corrections. "We, as a community, have to be proactive in regards to getting people connected with the communities and getting them working."

King believes the event provides more than just a second chance; it's helping make our communities safer.

"There are a lot of people at the event, different partners that have come together to provide different resources," says King, "What that does is make the community stronger, and in turn, by making the community stronger you can provide better resources. That also brings the rate of recidivism down, which means less people are in prison and the state is spending less money."

Boone says the event is life-changing for him and other parolees. "[It] helps them further their education and gives them a second chance if they want to do anything different with their life."

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