Mary King's Mission
Cotton is earning enough to rent an apartment, sees his son regularly, and has taken up painting. He's put out more than 100 applications, mostly for janitorial work, but no bites. Still, he's optimistic- and, coming full circle from his prison experience, says he would like to do "motivational speaking" for MPRI. (Some program grads do give talks with King around the county.)
Some of the newly released prisoners are required to work with MPRI as part of their probation agreements; others are not. But King insists that she and her staff make contact with virtually every prisoner about to be released.
Not everyone who goes through the program is appreciative, according to a thirtyish man I'll call "Jeff." A former drug user and drinker, he started using as a teen, he says, "because I was curious." Recently released from jail, he says he intends to stay clean and finds the twelve-step meetings required as part of his parole "helpful." But he tells me that a lot of the guys are just cynically going through the motions-that some take the computer course, for example, mainly to earn gift certificates from Meijer.
Asked why he thinks that is, Jeff shrugs and says "ego." Used to macho environments and acting tough, he believes, the men are disdainful of the effort to turn them into model citizens.
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