Federal Inmates Get Early Release; Charlotte Prepares to Aid Their Transition into Society

A group of thirty federal prison inmates is set to be released in Charlotte starting November 1st. They're among thousands nationwide who will be set free early as part of an effort to reduce sentences for non-violent drug offenders and cut down the prison population.
With the influx of people who will be getting out of prison soon, we look at whether Charlotte has enough resources to help them transition into society and not fall back into a life of crime.
"They call me Montana, lot of my friends call me the black Elvis, Bin Laden. I have so many aliases," said Toni Hearne. 
He says he spent 14 years in federal prison.
"I was involved in drugs. When I got here, I never had a resume because I never worked anywhere," said Hearne. 
When he got out, Hearne went to the Center for Community Transitions on The Plaza - whose mission is right there in the name.
"The lifeworks program is a two week program for employment readiness. You have mock job interviews, make a resume. After that class, you're ready to walk out the door and start interviewing," said Myra Clark, executive director of CCT. 
And that's exactly what Hearne did.
"I got a job with Supreme Sweepers. I work third shift, but I still continue to come to the classes just to learn," said Hearne. 
We asked Clark if the Center is ready for the influx of federal inmates who will be getting released early. 
"It may be a little crowded in the classroom, but we will give everyone the attention they need to be successful when they get out," said Clark. 
And as one ex-con now working to stay on the right path, Hearne has his own message:
"For all you guys just coming home, do a great job. Make your people proud. Make your kids and grandkids proud. Pay it forward for all the guys who will come behind you," said Hearne. 
The CCT also builds relationships with families of inmates both when they're in jail and when they get out.
According to the justice department, around 40 thousand men and women, serving time for non-violent drug crimes, could benefit from the new sentencing standards.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission says prison sentences will be cut by an average of 25 months.
To learn more about The Center for Community Transitions, click here.

Myra M. Clark
704-494-0001 x. 23
PO Box 33533
Charlotte, NC 28233

Erik Ortega
2304 The Plaza
Charlotte, NC 28204

Families Doing Time
Sandra Willoughby
PO Box 33533
Charlotte, NC 28233

Center for Women
Delilah Montalvo
PO Box 33533
Charlotte, NC 28233


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