MEDIA ADVISORY: Program Designed to Empower Men Leaving Prison Graduates its First Class

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Oct. 9, 2019


Karen Pojmann, Communications Director
Missouri Department of Corrections

Antuane Waddy likes to stay busy. Since starting a prison sentence in 2013, he has sought out every opportunity to work, to learn and to help. He has trained dogs for adoption through Puppies for Parole. He has served as a daily living assistant, helping fellow offenders who have medical conditions or disabilities. He has practiced meditation, anger management and sobriety. He has studied auto mechanics and earned diesel mechanics certification. He has worked as a food handler, a landscaper, a warehouse attendant, a recreation attendant, a referee, an office clerk and a canteen clerk.

Now he's ready for his biggest challenge yet: going home.

Waddy is one of a dozen men at Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City, Missouri, chosen to pilot a new program in partnership Urban League. Algoa Institutional Activity Coordinator Meryl Miller and Functional Unit Manager Matt Klumper teamed up with Jamie Dennis from the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis to launch the reentry course, a prison chapter of Urban League’s Save Our Sons that preps offenders with employability skills and life skills pre-release and then supports them through the organization’s vast network when they return to the community. Replete with resources and grounded in a century-long presence in St. Louis, Urban League is specially positioned to help men succeed.

Dennis, director of the Save Our Sons program in St. Louis, was a long-time fixture of career and resource fairs at Algoa, known for drawing a crowd at each visit. He also has an impressive track record in the community; his program has helped more than 750 men find jobs since its 2015 inception. To Miller and Klumper, expanding the relationship seemed like a natural next step.

The team launched the program in late August and will graduate the first class Friday, Oct. 11.

Waddy, who is scheduled for release in December, hopes the example he and his classmates set can inspire and motivate their peers. “There’s a better way,” he says. “You can be a model citizen and follow the law and have a great life. It takes effort. You have to take initiative.”


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