Rockford leaders view re-entry program in WI - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford leaders view re-entry program in WI

Rockford leaders view re-entry program in WI

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Rockford civic and police leaders think a program assisting felons trying to transition back into their communities can work in our city.

The program uses a cooperation between law, the church, and community businesses and services to find a future for people who have a past.

"Our violent offenders, our gun offenders and our robbers. People who've been in the system numerous times. It's very similar to what's happening here in Racine," said Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.

Racine leaders remember those days. Arresting convicted felons on gun charges and they still do, but in a far lesser volume.

"Of the 72 people we looked at, the recidivism rate dropped around 60 percent," said Racine's chief.

With the help of community members and business owners, felons coming out of prison are coming in to work.

Jerry Bloom transitioned from a life of crime to one of purpose in 1989 when he left prison and bought a small Christian bookstore.

Now he offers employment to those from the re-entry program.

"As anything in life, we can't carry them through it we can create an opportunity and help teach people," said Bloom.

Bloom knows how lucky he was. He just hopes others take advantage of their opportunities.

"As I said, the second chance is special, the third is almost non-existent."

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey is optimistic about a CRP appearing in the city's system.

The next step is getting the department of corrections on board.

"The biggest gap that we need to get filled, have those conversations when we get back with the DOC."

No word yet on when the program would become a fixture in the law enforcement system here. But the mayor is confident that community organizations and businesses would be on board.

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