After prison, Rockford group offers parolees second chance

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Parolees face a number of obstacles when re-entering society. Rep. Maurice West II (D-Rockford) and the Illinois Department of Corrections teamed up for an event aimed at giving offenders a second chance.

“There’s never been nothing like this before. I’ve been to prison three times and, and it’s just different from everything, I mean it’s different,” said parolee Calvin Thomas.

Thomas was just one of over 200 parolees at the “Summit of Hope”, held at Second First Church, at 318 N. Church Street, who were looking to stay on the right track and put their lives back together after prison.

“A lot of people don’t have resources to do anything. After you get out of jail you lose every-you got to start all over again,” Thomas said. “Every time you go to jail you got to start over again for like over a month or so. You lost everything.”

The summit is giving former inmates the tools needed to start over, like information on housing, getting a new license, even a haircut. Tools like this Thomas didn’t have before.

“They come out, they can’t figure out how to get re-acclimatized to society, they find themselves right back in,” said West.

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and 40 other local vendors came to help former inmates become regular citizens.

“Most of the men and woman that are incarcerated are going to come home,” said Terrence Hill, Outreach Administrator at IDOC. “Ultimately, responsibility is going to be on the individual and the decisions that they make. It’s our goal to help, or provide access to better decisions.”

“The person has paid their dues,” said Suzanne Shelain, Vice President of Staffing Solutions at Furst Staffing. “The person has completed the sentence that society has set as the appropriate sentence, but the hardest part is how to give them that opportunity to move on.”

IDOC said that after Tuesday turnout, they may consider making the “Summit of Hope” an annual event.

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