‘I’m just so grateful’: Former Iowa prisoners credit programs for helping them stay on track

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Iowa’s recidivism rates decreased for the first time since 2014. The rate of repeat offenders fell almost one percent this year, with only 39 percent of prisoners re-entering incarceration.

Former prisoner Brian Cory said watching other inmates return to jail made him doubtful he could stay out of trouble.

“I even went back myself, so I was a skeptic,” Cory said. “I was like, ‘Once you’re in, you’re in.'”

Junior Lovejoy went to jail for OWI charges. He echoed the same concern that watching returning prisoners made him question himself.

“It was just tough for me to see and accept, but once I got there, I knew if I didn’t make a change, I would be back, too,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy said Woodbury County’s license reinstatement payment plan helped him find work once he got out of jail.

“I’m just so grateful for that because otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do today, whether drive out of town or do the jobs I do,” Lovejoy said.

Cory was in and out of prison four times in 10 years for drug crimes, but the prison’s programs have helped him retake control of his life.

“I’m dealing with my emotions on a whole different level because the only emotion I ever dealt with before was anger and I just let it out,” Cory said. “That’s the only way I dealt with it.”

Will Meier is a juvenile probation officer for Woodbury County. He said programs such as the 12-step program which has helped Brian or the CAPPS program which has helped Junior are great, but former convicts need the community to help them stay on the right path.

“People are going to get out and they’ll probably get out a lot quicker than what you think and we need community involvement,” Meier said. “We need places for these guys to live. We need places for these guys to work.”

Once they’re out of jail, former convicts face many obstacles on their patch, but Meier hopes community resources can help keep people on the right track.

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