The Department of Corrections kicked off National Re-entry Week with a special lecture at one of the department’s transitional facilities.
Men at the Manning Re-entry Work Release Center in Columbia had the chance to hear from a guest speaker to motivate them for re-entry into society.
The currently incarcerated men had the chance to talk about some of the challenges they may face upon release and what resources are available to help them be successful.
Many of the inmates with SCDC will be released from prison within 5 years, but coming from behind bars isn’t an easy transition.
Jerry Blassingame spoke to a group of men at Manning Tuesday morning. Blassingame spent almost 2 years behind bars more than 20 years ago. Since then he’s spearheaded a movement centered around helping inmates reenter society.
“In the United States there are aboout 46000 collateral consequences things that bar people with a criminal background from jobs, and housing, and educational things like that,” said Blassingame explaining some of the obstacles in the way for recently released inmates.
Blassingame launched a non-profit organization, Soteria CDC, to help men in a position he once was in.
Blassingame continued, “We do transitional housing. We have a 16 bed facility in Greenville. We also operate low income housing for families for those who have been incarcerated. So we do all the life skills and financial literacy so they can be successful citizens.”
There were about 60 inmates present for Blassingame’s motivational speech, including one man who has been with SCDC since he was 15 years old. The inmate is now 7 days away from his release after spending 21 years behind bars.
“My biggest fear is the unknown. It’s a lot of anxiety. It’s a lot of things I haven’t experienced. When you come to prison you gain this psychological way of thinking and society doesn’t live by that prison way of thinking.”
Facilities like Manning are instrumental in easing those fears. Programs offered at the work release center give inmates the tools they need to strive in their communities.
The inmate continued sharing his success with 7News and his hopes for life outside of prison.
“I studied for my DMV. I am very proud. I made an 87 on my first try and I’ve never drove but just small things like that let me know that I can make it and I can achieve a lot of things.”
Manning Re-entry Work Release Center also offers programs to help inmates secure employment and further their education once they leave SCDC.
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