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Witness
Sweet Beginnings
An unusual programme in the US helps ex-convicts to stay out of prison.
Last Modified: 23 May 2010 13:43 GMT

Filmmakers: Ernie Park and Michael Graziano

The US has the largest prison population in the world. Many of the inmates are incarcerated as a consequence of aggressive anti-crime legislation, and their prison sentences are often disproportionate to the crimes for which they have been convicted.

In struggling communities like North Lawndale in Chicago there is an at risk community of young African-American men who have either been in prison themselves or are close to someone who has.

And once released these ex-convicts often remain "at risk" because there are few jobs for them and little support to help them stay out of prison.

In the North Lawndale region of Chicago there is one programme, Sweet Beginnings, that has provided a way forward for many ex-inmates.

It is a programme that provides training, workforce support, and helps them navigate their way out of the recidivism pattern that many find so tempting.

This story is told through the eyes of the woman who runs the programme as she describes how she draws on her own experiences. 

Filmmakers Ernie Park and Michael Graziano introduce us to the unique programme that offers one way out for some of these men.

It is a transition programme designed to help a very different community that is also at risk and offers both a chance for a Sweet Beginnings.

Sweet Beginnings can be seen from Tuesday, January 4, 2010 at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 0830, 1900; Wednesday: 1400, 2330.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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