Julie Allison:
“I think the biggest change to get ex-offenders back into the community is to get more community programs. Maybe have the parole officers actually stay in the community. Therefore, they would be able to know the families and definitely have that connection to the parole officers.”

Shirley King (Blues singer/daughter of B.B. King): “Well the one thing that I see when they come out, there is nothing to come out to. Educationally, health-wise and a lot of times when you’re locked up, your family has disappeared, so you don’t have counseling to know how to deal with that. If you have kids that you left when you went into the system, sometimes they have negative feelings toward you, because you have been talked about as a person who served time. And one of the biggest things, I feel, is probably the medical needs because being locked up, things have worked a certain way inside the system, and you didn’t take care of yourself. Then you’re bringing it back home to your family?”if you have a family to come back home to.”

Charles Willett, Jr. (Chicago Reporter circulation/marketing mgr.):
“The biggest challenge is employment and the reason I say that is whether you’re an ex-offender or whether you’re someone who does not commit a crime, finding a job that helps you become viable to the community is very important. Oftentimes when people come out of prison, they have a hard time finding a job because employers are not always apt to hire them because they have this stigma attached to them of being an ex-offender. The thing about it is, if you’re able to come back into society, work hard, and want to become a productive member of society, you should be able to do that. So I think if employers and businesses would give ex-offenders a lot more of a chance to find viable employment, it would be a lot easier for them to make the transition back into society.”

Obasi Kitambi:
“I think one of the problems about change is that you have to change people’s mind, and that’s one of the most difficult things you can do. Just like during the time of segregation, people were trying to change people’s mind about race. It’s almost the same thing trying to change people’s mind about reintegrating back into society. I think what first needs to happen is there has to be a reconstruction of values for ex-offenders. And then have some way to manifest those values to a broader community. There are a lot of programs that help people get jobs, help with resumes and things of that nature. But there are no programs that help men construct value systems and set the tone?”to help with value systems and become more self-determined. Its OK to look to those programs that help you get jobs, but if you get a job and go back to the same community?”the same poverty that you were born into with part of the emphasis and influences in their lives that caused you problems in the first place?”the recidivism rate is going to stay the way it is. Operation Spotlight is just that, a spotlight. So it’s like a spotlight on the community that’s already at risk. Part of that is the stigma has to be removed from ex-offenders. If you look at the demographics, 65 percent or more, all men who are incarcerated, young African-American men between the ages of 18-25, that’s not by accident. One thing we have to think about is the stigmas and the ideas behind how we think about reintegrating people. This has to change.”

Angel M. Godfrey-Jefferson:
“For women, they’re looking for a job. There are waivers out there, when they are looking for a job they need the waiver (which cost $42). The waiver states you haven’t harmed any elderly people or children, and it will allow you to work. For places that will hire ex-offenders, maybe they should have a waiver as they are coming out once they’re released because jobs are difficult to find and everyone does not want to hire ex-offenders. Even though the federal government will pay $5,000 for each person that they hire and that’s a tax credit, but they don’t understand. Once a person comes out and transitions into a job, I don’t think they will go back to that same mentality and back into that recidivism they talk about.”