The Community Offender Re-entry Program in Duluth Loses State and Federal Funding

By KBJR News 1

April 4, 2013 Updated Apr 4, 2013 at 12:39 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.COM)

The Community Offender Re–entry Program in Duluth has lost thousands in state and federal funding, and is in danger of being phased out.

CORP is one of the community aid programs at SOAR, a non–profit dedicated to career development. The CORP program helps past offenders rejoin the Duluth community by streamlining the transition process.

"We help them find employment, we help them build up their self–esteem...if it's a barrier that an ex–offender would have, we help them with it," says Dana Race, Program Coordinator.

The Minnesota Office of Justice provided funding for CORP for several years. However, as of September 30th of this year, they will be discontinuing their support.

"We were told this last cycle which was in July or August of last year that this would be the last one from them," Race informs.

In addition to losing state funding, CORP's federal grant provided by the Second Chance Act, ended in 2011.
They now must reapply in hopes of receiving one of the 25 coveted spots.

Races wants people to know that the clients she works with just want a second chance to live life the right way.

"The clients that come to our program are just people that made mistakes...so they just deserve another chance and they really strive to do what's best and that's evident by our success rate, which are the clients successes."

It's a 75 percent success rate, and with a stat like that participants say losing CORP would be a crime."

"I was sentenced to 41 months for second degree sales of a controlled substance," says ex-offender Corrine Fader who now works as a assistant at CORP.

Fader spent ten months behind bars before being referred to the CORP program.

It changed her life.

"I had pretty low self–esteem, and the ability to get back into the work force with that felony was really hard on me," informs Fader.

CORP provided Fader employment assistance and helped her deal with the personal aspects of her life.

"They helped me with my continued recovery with drug addiction and I attended recovery programs here," she continues.

Fader shed light on the problems offenders have to face when transitioning.

"As an offender we have a lot of barriers, a lot of stumbling blocks we have to overcome...housing was difficult."

Fader is so grateful for the help CORP has provided her she now gives spends her time helping others transition.

"I feel like I'm giving back to the community by working with offenders everyday," she says with a smile on her face.

Duluth Representative Erik Simonson authored a bill that is pending before the public safety committee. It would incorporate CORP funding and help ex–offenders like Fader get a second chance.

Since losing its funding the CORP program has gone from four paid staff members down to one, if the proposed bill passes they will receive 150–thousand dollars for 2014 with a matched amount in 2015.

Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware
gware@kbjr.com