JOHNSONVILLE, SC (WBTW) – Last January, a bill to “Ban the Box” was introduced in the House asking that no job application include questions related to convictions of a crime, unless the crime directly related to the applicant’s desired position.
Supporters of that bill hoped to give convicted felons a second chance and prove themselves to employers.
One group in Johnsonville is also pushing for that second chance with a new program they hope will better individuals, their community, and the state.
Deon Generette started the Second Chance Program at White Chapel Holiness Church in Johnsonville.
He helps young men and women convicted of a crime or who just need help getting back on the right path to plan for the future, apply for jobs, and get involved in the community.
“We’re just trying to open doors of opportunity so that these gentlemen and these women will not enter back in the same situation again,” said Generette.
Generette says often times, people who have been convicted of a crime fall victim to the “revolving door” and fall back into the same routines.
“What you see a lot of times is people that go back into the same thing because they don’t have hope or see something else different.” said Generette.
That something different is needed for people like Rico Linen, a man who served 15 years in prison.
“I was in there so I know, like I was a revolving door. I kept getting in trouble because I couldn’t get no job, I’m living in a rural area, and it’s hard to get jobs,” said Linen.
With the label of a convicted felon, Linen says the job search was nearly impossible.
“When they hear convicted felon, it’s already just like ‘Oh God’. You don’t even, you know, have to do it or nothing. It’s just convicted felon – that word by itself – it’s a word that will keep you in the mix,” said Linen.
Linen was convicted when he was 17-years-old, and at 40, convicted felon isn’t the label he wears.
He’s now a husband and a father, and with Generette’s program, he’s given a second chance.
The Second Chance Program is held at White Chapel Holiness Church in Johnsonville every Wednesday night at 6:00 pm.