A conference was held in Dallas Monday bringing together the stakeholders trying to reduce the recidivism rate among Texas prison inmates.
The Bureau of Justice says roughly two-thirds of inmates released from prison re-offend within three years of being free.
"It's a cycle that's very difficult to break," said Christina Melton-Crain, the president and CEO of the Doors Re-entry Program. "When I was on the Board of Criminal Justice, I realized there was one major gap in the system and that was when the offender got out and getting to the services that they needed in order to not re-offend."
Sunny Schwartz is nationally known for her efforts at criminal justice reform. Her message to those working to keep people from going back to prison was simple.
"The reality of it is 95 percent of those people that are incarcerated are coming out to your neighborhood and to my neighborhood," she said. "Don't be cynical. Don't give up. Hold people accountable and know that this is about their humanity and our safety."
Shon Griggs was a big game drug dealer who was sentenced to 18 years of federal time. But after serving only six years he was released for saving the lives of prison staff during a riot. He's been out for 14 years now.
"I know what I'm talking about. I did it… not a speeding ticket, not even stopped by the police," he said.
Griggs has produced a spoken word DVD titled "Back to Da Block: Still Living Good" to talk to people who have been where he's been. He said a person has to have the will to change.
"We can't fix it. That person have to fix it. They have to be the one who want to do it and when they want to do it we can be able to help a person like me who have been there and done that," he said.
KDFW FOX 4
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