Transitional home looks to give inmates a second chance

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 6:20 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - When is a new opportunity not really possible? For thousands of inmates released from jail and prison, hardships continue after time is served.

A transitional home in La Crosse is working to give offenders the chance to leave prison once and for all.

“Unfortunately, many times people who are stuck in the cycle of incarceration they don’t find the opportunity to have a second chance,” said Chris Crye, the executive director of Next Chapter La Crosse.

Looking to provide that second chance, Next Chapter La Crosse has created a transitional house for men after they are released from jail, prison, or treatment.

“In La Crosse County we have about 4,200 bookings a year that are men getting booked and that represents 2,200 individuals,” Crye explained. “You can also see that’s kind of the issue as well. There’s more booking than there are individuals which means the same individuals are coming back.”

Next Chapter La Crosse Executive Director Chris Crye says nationwide 66 percent of people return to jail within three years-- 54 percent in La Crosse County.

The organization provides more than a roof-- it creates a community, since most guests will live here for six to 12 months.

The house can host five residents with each guest getting their own bedroom.

They welcomed their first resident Mike Nelson back in July.

“Here the mentorship, the resources they offer, the security, the openness with which we can discuss seems when you’re in the system you are just trying to get through it,” Nelson said. “Where here, you can openly talk about issues with other people who have been through it. The fellowship is ridiculously amazing.”

Next Chapter La Crosse works with other organizations including the Salvation Army, WAFER, and Western Technical College to provide food and education.

“When I got out and wanted to do better, I decided I would take a little shortcut to get there quicker,” Nelson added. “I didn’t have any housing, I didn’t have anything, I just needed a little bit to get me started... that’s how the cycle continued.”

Now Nelson is motivated and proud to be a resident at the Next Chapter house.

The non-profit allows those staying to live rent-free for the first six weeks, after that there is a $450 fee and all guests are required to work.

If you would like to donate, click here.

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