Wednesday, 27 June 2018 16:09

Re-entry program sets Charles English on city career path

Written by Scott Packard, Chief Communication Officer, Houston Health Department
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After graduating from the Health Department’s Community Re-Entry Network Program, Charles English turned his life around and landed a job with Houston Public Works. After graduating from the Health Department’s Community Re-Entry Network Program, Charles English turned his life around and landed a job with Houston Public Works. Photo courtesy of Houston Health Department

 

Walking across the stage on May 31 gave Charles English a fresh start. The skills and support provided through the Houston Health Department Community Re-Entry Network Program helped him rejoin his community following past mistakes that lead to incarceration. 

Charles is one of 79 CRNP graduates who ushered in the program’s tenth year of helping ex-offenders transition into productive, contributing members of the Houston community. 

“It’s not easy coming out as a felon and finding a job to take care of your family,” Charles said. “This program gave me hope when everyone else had given up on me.”

The six-week program supports ex-offenders by identifying physical and behavioral health needs. CRNP provides life skills courses, job readiness training, peer support groups, family reunification assistance, anger management, counseling, case management, and linkage to additional resources and services.

Recidivism, the rate at which ex-offenders relapse into criminal behavior, is 4.76 percent among this class while the average rate in Texas is approximately 22.6 percent. The program saves taxpayers millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on the cost of re-incarceration.

“This program has become a beacon of hope for so many,” said LaTosha Selexman, CRNP division manager. “Our staff, local employers, community groups, family and friends work together to support program participants in successfully reintegrating into the Houston-area community.” 

While participating in the program, Charles gained employment with Houston Public Works (HPW), where he quickly established himself as a dependable, hard-working individual. HPW is a long-time supporter of the program, employing several graduates over the past decade.

“For years, HPW has been a department that believes in second chances and has offered employment opportunities to ex-offenders. We’ve had many excellent employees come through CRNP, including Charles English,” said Carol Haddock, director of HPW. “According to his supervisors, Mr. English utilizes his hands-on skills and abilities within our Houston Water service line to provide restoration services to properties that had a recent water or wastewater repair. I am proud to have Mr. English on the HPW team.”

The May 31 ceremony was the program’s 19th biannual graduation. Of this class, about 40 percent have become employed since enrolling in the program.

“The program gave me something to look forward to and confidence in myself to be a responsible man to support my family and make life better,” Charles continued. “I’m thankful and want to show people behind me there is a way.”

CRNP enrolls about 500-600 participates annually. It’s estimated that as many as 15,000 ex-offenders are released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice into Harris County each year. “Many program graduates have been able to move forward with their lives,” Selexman continued. “We take pride in celebrating the accomplishments of these individuals.”  

For more information about CRNP, contact 832-393-5467 or hdhhs-reentry@houstontx.gov 

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