Life After Prison Special Report

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SPRINGFIELD, IL (WAND) - Ex-offenders face many challenges to avoid going back to prison.

The recidivism rate in the state is 43 percent. Each year hundreds of inmates are released to their communities, leaving them in need of employment, housing and counseling.

Lynard Joiner knows what its like to do the crime and then the time.

He spent 17 years in federal prison for drug dealing in Sangamon County.

Released in 2011, he founded sing which stands for shift into new gear.

"We provide what we call a road map for services," Joiner said. "We help them find employment, housing, vocational training, we give them mental health, we partner with a lot of different agencies to provide to lead to self sufficiency."

S.I.N.G will serve some 350 ex-offenders this year.

So far it has seen a 95 percent success rate in keeping ex-offenders from returning.

Joiner says, "I also let them know that hey, no, no, no save the game... I deal with reality help them be straightforward with me."

But he says says he still feels disappointment.

"But (I'm) kind of disappointed in the help I am NOT getting, which is from the state, the city and the county I feel they could do more."

The odds of success once out are not good.

Illinois has a recidivism rate of 43 percent.

In 2017, 479 inmates were released to Sangamon County, 563 to Macon County, and finally 508 to Champaign County, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Most return to prison within 3 years, even sooner without a job and it's costing taxpayers money.

Mindy Ruckman of the Illinois Policy Institute says, "If they were to get out of prison within a year of being released and find employment that number drops to 16 percent. That's quite a difference."

The Illinois Policy Institute says to reduce prison overcrowding and recidivism, it takes smart public policy.

The conservative think tank supports a Senate Bill that would shield employers from frivolous lawsuits for hiring ex-offenders, called the Negligent Hiring Liability Bill SB 2282.

Mindy Ruckman of the Illinois Policy Institute says," I mean it's a win-win. it's good for employers who want to hire these individuals and it's good for the individuals who want to be hired."

That bill has yet to be called for a vote.

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