Several Prince George’s County community members praised the launch of reentry programs to support formerly incarcerated citizens in the county.

On April 1, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and workforce development nonprofit Employ Prince George’s announced a reentry employment incentive program and grants for county nonprofits that support people returning to the community, according to a county news release.

The county also recognized April as Second Chance Month, which aims to highlight the importance of reentry with a particular focus on young people and juveniles, the news release said.

Under the reentry incentive program, the county will grant eligible businesses up to $5,000 for each returning citizen employed during the previous year. The bonus incentivizes businesses to help reintegrate previously incarcerated people back into society, according to the news release.

The program, which stems from a county council bill passed in July 2023, includes $500,000 in county funding and $2 million in state funding.

District 5 council member Jolene Ivey said the initiatives will help reduce crime in the county and integrate returning citizens into the community.

“When you’re helping somebody who’s coming out of prison, you’re not just helping that person,” Ivey said. “You’re helping [their] mother, children, whole community, so it’s got an exponential impact.”

Luminis Health, which provides healthcare across Maryland, held an event in Lanham with Alsobrooks April 1 to announce the reentry programs and to celebrate Second Chance Month.

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Tori Bayless, CEO of Luminis Health, said the company values reentry programs because of their impact on struggling communities.

“When we think about job opportunities, employment stability, income is that second chance people are looking for,” Bayless said.

Everyone deserves a second chance, and partnerships between organizations and employers help foster that opportunity, according to Bayless. Reentry programs also provide more opportunities for jobs to be filled, she added.

For Bolen Wells, a Luminis Health employee, reentry programs have allowed him to move on from his past and begin a new life, he said.

Wells said he was in and out of prison until last year and has battled drug addiction. But a “reflection with God” led him to change his path and pursue a career, he said.

In 2023, Wells participated in Anne Arundel County’s Turnaround Thursday — a movement similar to Employ Prince George’s with the goal of helping returning citizens by providing counseling, education and access to job opportunities.

Wells got involved with Turnaround Thursday during his last sentence, he said. He attended the program’s weekly meetings and was able to get in touch with Luminis Health — leading to his current job as an environmental service attendant.

“I had done many programs before but they always seem to fall short when you get out. No one will answer the phone,” Wells said. “[Turnaround Thursday] was active in the community. They answered the phone.”

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Troy Green, Luminis Health’s director of institutional partnerships, helped connect Wells with the company. Reentry programs help give incarcerated individuals hope after returning to their communities, Green said.

“I’ve actually gone into a couple of jails and actually talked to individuals who are about to get out,” Green said. “It gives them hope that they can get a gainful, a real job … which is going to provide opportunities for them to grow in the organization.”

Bayless emphasized that Prince George’s County’s reentry program will also provide benefits for employers, including bonuses and a reliable workforce. The program could also decrease employee turnover, she added.

Wells said he’s grateful for the opportunities provided by reentry programs. The programs helped Wells financially, which allowed him to see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

“You just have to give it a chance,” Wells said. “The resources make a world of difference.”