INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- All day Tuesday, the Marion County Conference on Re-Entry brought hundreds together to help keep convicted offenders out of trouble.
Half of all offenders released from prison in Marion County will be back behind bars in less than three years. Bringing that number down is the goal of the conference held at IUPUI.
Locked up for the first time in 1995, DaVinci Richardson quickly made mistakes after getting released from prison.
“I got out in ‘99 not having learned much and committed more crimes due to my drug habit and I went back to prison in 2000,” said ex-offender DaVinci Richardson.
In 2009, Richardson finally cleaned up his act, but not before going in and out of the justice system several more times. His story is all too common especially among teens.
“I spent close to 13 years in prison being convicted of different crimes,” said Richardson.
“The largest population we have are 18-24 year olds that keep cycling through,” said Lena Hackett with Community Solutions.
Hackett helped organize the conference at IUPUI with the goal of improving services for formerly incarcerated people to prevent repeat offenses.
Some say the biggest challenge for ex-cons becoming productive citizens is finding good employment.
“The single most important factor to determine their success if whether or not they have a job,” said ex-offender Marshall Shackelford.
Securing safe and stable housing is another huge challenge.
“Housing is a big issue because most housing providers say if you’re clean for a year, they’ll house you,” said Hackett.
Helping ex-offenders travel around town is a third key to success.
“That was one of my biggest challenges. I have an interview but how do I get there. I don’t have money for transportation,” said Richardson.
Ultimately, the hope is using the conference to brainstorm solutions to those societal issues and more will also reduce crime, because nearly 90 percent of Indianapolis homicide suspects have some sort of criminal history.
“The re-entry coalition will say public safety is the number one priority,” said Hackett.
There is also financial incentive to make changes. Organizers of the conference say that reducing the repeat incarceration rate by just 1 percent would save the county millions dollars that taxpayers have to pay for.