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Sentence served

"Sentence served" Continued...

Issue: "Return of the Lion," May 17, 2008

"You have to have willpower," Nolte-Ware told WORLD. "If you don't, you won't last. It's kind of like boot camp. They make you search yourself."

Three years later, Nolte-Ware works for the Downtown San Diego Partnership and serves on Second Chance's board of directors. And the other 17 who went through the program with her-they're all still out as well.

"You learn to get rid of some of your old behaviors," Nolte-Ware said. She added, "You learn that no matter what you've done, you are useful to somebody, somewhere, somehow."

Scott Silverman, the program's executive director, said he hopes that California will receive a larger allotment of money since the state houses the second-largest prison population, next to Texas. Overall, he sees the bill as a significant step in the right direction.

"The exciting part is that the federal government is going to take a position that prison reentry is important," Silverman said. "It's going to send a federal message."

But Arnall said she worries that many organizations will abuse the opportunity to have a little extra cash. The government, she said, should create a litmus test to weed out organizations that may not have the best intentions, such as eliminating those whose executive director makes more than $100,000. "Anywhere that there's a lot of money," she said, "you're going to have people sniffing around."

Douglas Haynes, a contractor with Arlington County's Department of Technology, recently convinced his office to donate its Christmas charity money to OAR.

"As a citizen, I don't really want criminals running out there on the street," Haynes told WORLD. "But, obviously, we do have a serious prison problem."

Haynes said he has never had to think about checking off the "felony" box on a job application, but feels sorry for those who do. "For people who have to click 'yes,' that closes a lot of doors very, very quickly."

OAR is helping the people who are "really, really trying," he added. "I definitely believe in people who are helping other people help themselves, even if they've made mistakes."

If anyone is trying, it's Pinckney. He has considered going back to school to make himself more marketable to employers, but he worries about how he will put food on the table. "Bills come first these days," he admitted.

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