Training Helps Inmates Build A Bridge To Life Outside Prison Walls

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NPR on 4/30/2016 by Carrie Johnson

Attorney General Loretta Lynch tours a factory where inmates work at the Talladega Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Ala. on April 29, 2016.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch tours a factory where inmates work at the Talladega Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Ala. on April 29, 2016.

The nation’s top law enforcement officer walked past a barbed-wire fence, through passages lined with rust-colored walls, to meet with a special audience. But this was not a normal meet-and-greet — a stern-looking FBI security detail tracked her every move.

Inside the visitation room in this federal correctional institution, five men in khaki uniforms and black Crocs slippers were waiting to give Attorney General Loretta Lynch a glimpse of their struggles.

“Just because we’re locked up doesn’t make us bad people,” says Tony Moses, 47, a self-assured, tall man who’s locked up until January 2041 on armed robbery charges. “We just made some bad choices.”

Attorney General Lynch made the trip to highlight the need for more programs to help inmates transition out of incarceration and re-enter society. She mixed, carefully, with the general population at this federal correctional facility where 42 percent of inmates are locked up for drug crimes and 33 percent are facing years behind bars for weapons offenses.

“Certainly by providing individuals coming out of institutions with ways to become productive citizens, we reduce recidivism,” Lynch tells NPR in an interview. “What that means is we reduce crime. There are fewer victims when individuals have options — when they have job skills, when they have life skills, we break the cycle of children following their parents into institutions.”

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