New center helps those on parole and probation re-enter society

By Theresa Schmidt, KPLC

Originally aired on KPLC 7 on November 18, 2015

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) – According to the Department of Corrections, and other sources, Louisiana has more people incarcerated per capita than any other place in the world — and most of these people, will one day be set free. That’s why re-entry programs are seen as crucial to help offenders integrate into society.

New center helps those on parole and probation re-enter society

And a new center in the area aims to help make that happen.

“I had a job and I had an accident. I broke my neck and back. The doctors put me on pain killers and, course, I’m a drug addict, so I used that and it progressed into a bad addiction that led me back in prison,” said Kerry Marcotte.

Marcotte is now out on parole, having served time for drug offenses and theft. He’s getting re-entry help at a new state funded facility here called the GEO Lake Charles Day Reporting Center.

“I’ve learned that to get where you want to go, you’ve got to do what you’re supposed to do. And to do that, a lot of people don’t have the tools. They just weren’t taught in their upbringing to think properly. I’m beginning to see that the more opportunities you give in the thought process, the better your chances are to choose one that works the best and will give you good results,”said Marcotte.

Most people like Marcotte will eventually be out.

Each year, the Louisiana Department of Corrections releases about 15,000 inmates on parole, but sadly, about half of those offend again and are soon back in jail.

Charles Finkley has been with Louisiana Probation and Parole for decades.He’s the administrator of the Lake Charles District which covers Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes.

‘You and I pay for them being in there. We pay for their room and board; we’re paying for their medical, for their dental. It’s coming out of taxpayers’ money.  And secondly, if we’re paying for what their needs are, they’re not contributing to the rest of us as a whole,” he said.

Program Manager Courtney Kirby said Lake Charles Day Reporting Center is a one-stop shop for people on probation or parole to help keep them from landing back in jail.

“We provide classes such as cognitive behavior change. We provide job readiness. They’re able to have parenting classes, substance abuse classes, and other things to adjust them and help rehabilitate them into the community,” she said.

And they work with businesses to find those willing to give an offender a second chance. Though the state funds the program, Finkley said it’s much more expensive to keep offenders in prison.