Life After Prison Special Report Part 2

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - For those released from prison, beating the odds of not going back takes help.

TASC, or treatment alternatives for safe communities, provides a range of services for men and women being released from Illinois prisons.

Deana Elmore of TASC says,"You know when people come out they're motivated to change and when they are looking for work, if they are turned away for employment or housing, that can be very discouraging."

Serving out a sentence, being paroled, or even exonerated means re-entering a society that in many ways has left them behind.

Angel Gonzalez, who is an exonoree, says, "We change over time. We change our ways especially when you go to prison definitely when you go to prison."

Thanks to the Innocence Project, Angel Gonzalez was released in 2015 after a wrongful conviction for rape that saw him serve 21 years.

Angel Gonzalez says, "I would like to start something to help those that have been wrongfully convicted to have a place a house an apartment for at least six months."

He just now has received compensation from the state.

Illinois Innocence Project Founder Larry Golden says, "It's a real problem. We are struggling in our project to find a way we can find arrangements that can provide this support. "

Lisa Creason of Decatur was able to overcome her past after a three-year prison sentence in 1994 for attempted robbery.

Creason says, "You come home with very high hopes of rehabbing life but can't find a job, housing in a safe neighborhood and three children looking at you hungry."

Her persistence helped change state law with the signing of Senate Bill 42 in 2016.

It has allowed her to pursue an occupational license to work as a registered nurse.

"When we do see something that we can change that we should change should really put both feet forward and do what's right," Creason said. 

The state is addressing recidivism with reforms recommended by the criminal justice reform commission established under Governor Rauner.

A life skills reentry center is opening in Murphysboro this spring.

Another was opened in Kewanee last February.

IDOC will host a summit of hope at Parkland College in Champaign March 13th for parolees offering a maze of services and exhibits.

The Governor's goal is to reduce the prison population by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

Lynard Joiner who founded S.I.N.G which stands for shifting into new gear says,"Sometimes all a person need is a second chance. Do that mean everybody gonna do the right thing, No. But if we could help one individual to turn from that life of's worth it "

Life after prison...determination, collaboration, and support... to never go back.

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