Moose Lake Prisoners Press on After Doing Time

By KBJR News 1

September 1, 2011 Updated Sep 1, 2011 at 6:50 PM CDT

One of the most difficult things for convicted felons on release from prison is finding a job.

But it's a step that is critical to their success.

The razor wire and bars at Moose Lake prison hold offenders charged with the entire spectrum of crimes.

But no matter how much time they've served transitioning to the real world is a challenge.

"It's been kind of difficult but I have a case manager that works with me. I'm just trying to better prepare myself"

After serving three years for robbery, James Wilson knows it won't be easy to make the transition into society. He's worked hard for this day, receiving his GED and planning to go to college.

Moose Lake Prison believes in second chances for people likes James and transition fairs like this one are an important part of making that second chance work.

Vendors from colleges, faith based organizations, and housing companies were also at the fair with the united goal of keeping the prisoners out from behind bars.

"It's huge for their success they wouldn't have contact with them if they didn't set this up for them, meet these people make those networking contacts and start preparing that release," says Transition Coordinator Heather Walczynsai.

It's not just getting a job or finding a home, it's developing new habits. That's a strong message from former prisoner Lyle Wildes.

"I say I spent 20 years growing up, twenty years messed up, twenty year locked up, better I never gave up and that's why I'm here standing in front of you"

Lyle has been out for three years and now is a motivational speaker helping inmates change the way they think.

Good habits bring good results.

James Wilson is on the short list for freedom. He says he's ready to take that step.

"If you go to prison everybody here is not a bad person. But for the people that do get a second chance, and a second chance isn't always given to you, so when you to get one just make the best of it, that's what I'm doing now"

According to prison officials, two out of three Moose Lake prison inmates who are released don't come back.

Minnesota offers a tax credit for "at risk employees" to employers who hire ex-prisoners.

Written for the web by: Zach Vavricka
zvavricka@northlandsnewscenter.com