Breaking the cycle, giving former inmates a Second Chance - Tucson News Now

Breaking the cycle, giving former inmates a Second Chance

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ORO VALLEY, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The cost of incarceration hits you, the tax payer, as well as the families and inmates who have a hard time breaking the cycle. 

Statistics from the Bureau of Justice show that of prisoners released - 68 percent are arrested again within three years and 77 percent are arrested again with five years.

One of the biggest challenges for transitioning from prison to public life is finding work, and a local program is helping those, who are ready to help themselves.

He works fast and has an eye for detail.  "Sometimes the screws up here don't get spotted, covered up," said Aaron McGrane, one of those hired at a recent job fair, giving former convicts a second chance. 

McGrane learned how to drywall from his dad; he has had many years of experience, but one thing was keeping him from getting a job.

"That's kind of hard when you've got to check 'yes' in the felony box.  You know they look at that and think - well," said McGrane, who now works for Paul Johnson Drywall.

He spent four months in prison after his problems with alcohol caught up with him. 

"Got a little partied up at my friend's house, got pulled over, it was my fourth one so I went straight to the hoosegow [sic] on that one."

Many felons, once released will go back to their old ways, but this is where Second Chance comes in.  

It is a group of non profits and government agencies who held a first ever job fair earlier this year, for candidates with prior convictions. 

"I don't think anybody, anywhere has never made a mistake," said Jim Townsend from Paul Johnson Drywall, who hired McGrane to work for the company.  "He shows up for work every single day and he works hard, you can't ask for more than that."

Paul Johnson Drywall has hired from seven to nine Second Chance candidates and not everyone works out but Townsend believes everyone deserves a shot at a strong foundation to build a new life. 

"I had to want it really bad, you know, get sick and tired of being sick and tired," said McGrane, who is now sober and self sufficient. He says the key is never giving up.

"My old solution was when life got rough was go to alcohol.  That was my old solution, now I have new solution, which is just deal with it and roll with the punches and keep going you know," said McGrane.

According to Tucson's Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, nearly 50 people were hired at the Second Chance Job Fair.

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