Marion County conference aims to help ex-offenders

MARION COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – A conference Thursday in Marion County aims to connect different programs and agencies, all working toward helping ex-offenders successfully re-enter society.

Dozens of people and programs work each day in Indianapolis to help those who come out of jail or prison to find jobs, housing, and other resources.

The Marion County Re-entry Coalition has planned a day-long conference Thursday, designed to bring all those groups together to discuss best practices and recent research.

The goal is always to help ex-offenders lead productive lives, and also keep them from committing a crime again.

Officials say 85 percent of this year’s known homicide suspects in Indianapolis had a criminal history.

“Having somebody there to just meet them where they are, and say, ‘What are the barriers that you’re specifically facing?’ Because the barriers are different for everyone,” said April Angermeier with Community Solutions, Inc. “I think the re-entry approach we support as Marion County Re-entry Coalition is one that’s very individualized, very specific to the person. “

PACE, or Public Advocates in Community Re-entry, is just one of those programs that works to help people with felony convictions find the resources they need.

Suzanne Maudlin is now the officer manager at PACE. She says before she was introduced to the non-profit, she was putting in applications in as many places as possible to find a job.

She said it was hard to find work, because of a past criminal conviction.

Maudlin says once she was connected to PACE, she realized she had skills, she never knew she had.

“They’ve completely changed my life. I have my own home, and I’m working on getting my child back… I’m in a better place than I was before I’d even gotten into any type of trouble,” said Maudlin.

Marion County was also just awarded a more than $770,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Advocates say this will help them provide more comprehensive services for a targeted group of people: hopefully starting when people are still in jail, and then continuing to help them post-release as well.

Angermeier says they are expecting 400 people from various agencies Thursday at the re-entry coalition conference. It begins at 8:30 AM.

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