LCCR’s Reentry Specialist: Helping Rebuild Young Lives After Juvenile Prison

Last Monday, Shon Williams took the bus with one of our kids. “Jason” had recently been released from juvenile prison and was feeling nervous about catching the bus to get to his new job – after all, he hadn’t taken the bus in more than two years. Shon helped him figure out the best route to make sure he could get to work on time each day.

Guiding young people like Jason through taking their first steps back into the community is what Shon does every day as LCCR’s new Reentry Specialist.

“I got into reentry work because a lot of our clients were coming home with nowhere to live, no strong family support, and that was forcing most of them to survive the best way they could,” says Shon. “Even if that was committing another crime.”

Shon uniquely understands the struggle to reenter the community after leaving prison: “I did 26 years in prison with a life sentence, knowing the challenges one will face once being from released prison without a strong support system.”

He understands that these young people have so much more to offer. It is this lived experience that has allowed him to see the need for this new role at LCCR. In his previous capacity as LCCR’s Outreach Coordinator for the past five years, Shon knew he could be doing more for our kids.

That’s when he stepped up to earn his reentry peer support certification from Via Hope, a Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to investing in trauma-responsive people and organizations who want to re-envision systems of care. The certification program took six months to complete. Through it, Shon was able to gain valuable perspectives from trainers–both those who have been formerly incarcerated and those who have not been–as he learned more about effectively navigating reentry.

Shon had been providing our young people with reentry support for more than a year before transitioning into this new full-time Reentry Specialist role. Currently, he’s managing a roster of ten kids in this new program and he’s looking to add more. Because every child is different, he works hard to cater to their unique needs.

“My aim is to find out their goals, and figure out how we can achieve them,” says Shon.

In one case, a child lacked the proper identification needed to secure consistent employment, so Shon helped him secure a state ID. In another, a child was struggling to understand the roots of her trauma, so Shon helped her connect with a local mental health program designed for previously incarcerated kids like her.

For Jason, Shon helped him to figure out the New Orleans public transit system – a daunting task for anyone, much less a child recently released from prison. With Shon’s help, Jason got to work on time. And he’s been on time for work every day since.

Posted by Cadence Neenanon February 6, 2024and categorized as Awards, Client Story, Events, Featured, News, Reports, Uncategorized