Re-Entry Through the Eyes of an Ex-Offender : A Radio Report


Facing a budget crisis, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has decided to release up to 1,000 inmates from the state's prisons. But many prisoners struggle as they try to make their way on the outside. More than half of Illinois’ ex-offenders end up back behind bars.

Benny Lee was raised in a middle class family, but that didn't stop him from getting into trouble on Chicago's West Side. For 20 years, he cycled in and out of prisons for drug offenses, an armed robbery, and a shoot-out with police. One of his longer stints was an eight-year sentence which he finished in 1981. He returned to the West Side as a 27-year-old man with no education or work history. Robert Wildeboer has the story of Lee’s struggle to reconnect and revive after years in prison.

It's been 25 years since Benny Lee finished serving his last sentence. He's now an administrator with TASC, a non-profit, where he helps ex-offenders make the transition from prison back to society. He's also working on a Masters in Inner City Studies Education at Northeastern University.

Listen to the audio here.

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