former inmates

To the Editors:

With so much attention, finally, on criminal justice reform, it is disheartening to realize little is being done for a recently released inmate.

At Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter (PAAS), we have an inmate/shelter-dog training program similar to the one at the Lexington Prison. From experience, I know how valuable this program is for the inmates and the dogs. I was part of the documentary The Dogs of Lexington.

Recently, one of our trainers was granted parole, and he has given me permission to tell his story. He left our program with $50 and a place to stay. He did not want to go back to his old environment. I reached out to those who were familiar with Jeremy and wanted to help. He started a GoFundMe account that quickly reached $800. He shut it down.

The good news is, with that small hand up, he was able to pay rent, buy a bicycle, find a job and go to the grocery store. In addition, he has started a savings account and has a phone!

It costs $26,000-plus per year to house someone in one of our penal institutions. With the investment of 3 percent, Jeremy has the best chance, ever, to make it on the outside.

With all the focus on helping those who need a second chance, someone – or a group – needs to provide former inmates with a financial hand up. Fifty dollars is not a hand-up, but 3 percent of the yearly cost for incarceration ($780) is. And, he was in for six years (or over $156,000, if you do the math).

A hand-up makes sense. Long-term incarceration doesn’t.


Kay Stout
Director, PAAS Vinita
Vinita, Oklahoma

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