Columbus mayor providing second chances for people recently released from prison

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 6:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 9:59 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The mayor of Columbus is working to provide felons with job training, mental health resources and the opportunities to work when they return to society. The “Free the Future” initiative aims to educate Chattahoochee Valley citizens about re-entry–the barriers formerly incarcerated individuals face in obtaining gainful employment.

In the United States, over 600,000 people are released from prison each year, and three-quarters of them are rearrested within five years of their release. News Leader 9 spoke with a man with a criminal background who said that when he got out of prison in May of last year, a second chance program gave him a way to provide for his family.

“Individuals do make bad decisions sometimes, but does that mean that they’re done for the rest of their lives? I hope not.”

Mayor Skip Henerson is making sure individuals in the Tri-City have a second chance with the “Free the Future” initiative. Free the Future is a collaborative effort between the mayor and several local organizations like Goodwill.

Broderick Kennedy defied the odds of returning to prison through the Free the Future initiative. Once he was released in May of 2022, Kennedy needed a job to support his family.

“And now I’m working at Trinidad I’m doing good. They accept my background through a lot, you know what I mean, and millions of people that helped me out and make me success today you know what I’m saying I don’t do no harm I do no wrong and they pay me enough to where I don’t have to get back in the streets,” said Kennedy.

Tricia Konan of Goodwill says Kennedy is just one out of the many success stories that come through their program.

For more information on Free the Future, click here. Goodwill is also offering an opportunity for people to there records cleaned on Oct. 25.