North Carolina group hopes to help turn inmates into productive citizens

Buckley Report
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For Madeline McClenney, it is a life and death struggle.

“This will bring us down,” McClenney says. “This is the Titanic for us.”

After spending seven years as a social worker in Washington, D.C., McClenney saw the pattern of people who finished their terms in prison, were released and found no route back into society. And, usually, they were people who had some of the toughest breaks in life.

“The kind of loss that some of us experience in a lifetime, they all experience before age 15: The death of a parent, the murder of a friend, a drug addicted parent, that's too much,” she says. “It is irrational to expect anything other than what we're getting.”

We’re getting people who aren’t finding ways to be productive. For a while, Arturowe Robinson was one of them.

“When they finally put me in the cell and the door slammed shut, at that moment it suddenly got very real,” says Robinson.

His father died when he was 6 and his mother worked long shifts for the New York City transit system -- and Robinson used the hours he spent, unsupervised, as a kid as a way to get in trouble.

After his time in prison, Robinson found a way to not just survive but thrive.

“I just stayed focused, I stayed the course, I stayed in school, I got little odd-jobs, work study and I lived in a room where I had to pay rent -- $90 a week -- and I just made things happen,” he says.

Now, he has his bachelor’s degree and is two classes away from his master’s and is trying to help others do the same through his work with Madeline McClenney’s Exodus Foundation -- something McClenney spent years designing after her years in Washington. And she insists her work with former prisoners is good for everyone.

“This is much better for victims because I'm concerned about victims as well,” says McClenney. “Victims are not being repaired.”

See how it all works in this edition of the Buckley Report.

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