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Opportunity Now Re-Entry graduates get leg up on inmate-to-free society transition

LAPLACE — The St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office presented its 10th class for its Opportunity Now Re-Entry Program for inmates during a graduation ceremony last week at the Leonard Robinet Mult-Purpose Room in LaPlace.

Sheriff Mike Tregre congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments and encouraged them to work hard as they rebuild their lives.

The SJSO’s Opportunity Now program differs from traditional re-entry programs because it is a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana Workforce Commission, Louisiana Rehabilitation Services and Louisiana Department of Corrections, providing work readiness, job placement and other self-sufficiency services to qualified inmates, Opportunity Now director Joe Lewis said.

Re-Entry participants were required to complete three months of intensive work readiness and life skills training in courses are designed to help inmates make better choices and cope with a variety of issues they may face upon re-entering society.

Job placement and case management services are also mandated aspects of the SJSO Opportunity Now Re-entry Program.

Warden Gordon Jeffcoat and Cpl. Sherri Wallace joined Tregre and Lewis in congratulating the 12 men and encouraged them to stay on the right path.

Jeffcoat said the program teaches inmates basic skills to help them transition into main stream society and become productive members of society.

Tregre, who started this program in 2014, also praised Lewis and his staff for their work.

“The staff works diligently to rehabilitate inmates so that when they return to their community they can experience success. Rehabilitation is much better than incarceration,” he said.

Many family members and friends attended the graduation to support their loved ones.