Non-profit travels the state, offering legal advice to help parolees get jobs and rejoin society

Thursday, August 31, 2017
EMBED <>More Videos

Representatives from a non-profit in the Bay Area visited Fresno to give parolees -- a second chance.

Fresno, Calif. (KFSN) -- Life outside prison walls is tough for John Lira.

"I could easily fall back," said Lira.

He spent most of his adult life on the inside--locked up on drug charges.

"You lose a lot of those things when you go to prison," said Lira.

In his younger days, Lira bounced between foster care homes and the juvenile justice system, starting at the age of eight.

"I'm older now-- I feel like I lost a lot of years in youth authority," said Lira.

He's now 38, on parole for three years and finally ready to change.

"I can't live that reckless lifestyle no more-- I gotta pick up new skills and new tools that will help me reentry into society," said Lira.

That's what brought Lira to a seminar in Fresno led by the non-profit Root and Rebound. It is aimed at helping him and 45 others stay on the straight and narrow with a roadmap to reentry, filled with legal resources and advice from Bay Area attorneys.

Lonnie Dewitt is a parole agent who says the people in this room have served time for everything from theft to murder and this type of knowledge will keep them from going back to their old ways.

"The thing is, we've all made mistakes but we want to be able to put those mistakes in the past and they want to be able to put theirs in the past," said Dewitt. "Sometimes people just need a chance."

Even though it won't be easy, Lira says he will make up for lost time and do whatever it takes to stay on the outside.