Lowcountry nonprofit helps ex-convicts re-enter society, workforce (ABC 4 News)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The Turning Leaf Project is a group in Charleston working to help formerly incarcerated men complete probation and get acclimated back into society.

Aulzue Fields spent the last 17 years in prison. He took someone else’s life in the Lowcountry when he was 26 years old.

“I was using a lot of drugs, alcohol. I wanted to live the life of being irresponsible. I had a wife and children, but at the time, my belief was bring the money to the house, that should be fine,” he said. “I wanted to do what I wanted to do and disregard everyone else.”

He’s made choices he’s not proud of.

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Training the Brain to Stay out of Jail (The Marshall Project)

Growing up in public housing in North Charleston, S.C., in the 1970s, David Hayward was familiar with poverty, violence and loss. His mother, grandmother and brother all died when he was young, and his father was in prison. He became addicted to alcohol and cocaine and occasionally lived under bridges and in abandoned buildings, he says. Over the years, his rap sheet grew: At least 15 arrests, mostly for minor crimes like driving with a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia but twice for armed robbery, leading to six stints in jail. 

In other words, Hayward is a typical “repeat offender.”

Crime statistics make clear that in the U.S., a handful of young men are responsible for an outsized share of crime. Like Hayward, they are often exposed as children to violence and trauma, parental incarceration, addiction, and poverty, all contributing to a lifelong inability to stay out of prison. 

Yet experts in the burgeoning field of prisoner re-entry, which supports former inmates, don’t agree on what—short of addressing systemic issues such as poverty and unemployment—can prevent this hard-to-reach group from committing more crimes.

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Unless those at the top act, South Carolina prisons will perpetuate crime problem (Post & Courier)

South Carolina prisons are not rehabilitating criminals — they’re training them.

In most of the state’s roughest correctional facilities, the yard is not so different from life on the street. Inmates may have to sell drugs to survive, join a gang for protection and constantly watch their manners — and their six — to avoid brutal assault.

Solitary confinement is their only peace.

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Saying goodbye to the streets, and prison (Post & Courier)

Marty Hamilton has spent 30 years behind bars, and he’s only 47.

The North Charleston native has been in prison seven times, and twice spent a year in the county jail. During the brief periods in between, he was a stone-cold criminal.

Hamilton terrorized the streets of North Charleston during its most violent years, selling dope and robbing other drug dealers. He survived gun fights, home invasions and drive-by shootings. He’s been stabbed once, shot twice.

“At 15, I started toting guns and shooting people,” Hamilton says. “I became an all-out outlaw. I didn’t think anything about it because I thought I was invincible and unstoppable.”

But now he has stopped.

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Amy Barch is on a mission to stop crime, one criminal at a time (Post & Courier)

More than a quarter of the crime committed in Charleston County last year was the work of just 1,900 men.

And 12 of them are sitting in Amy Barch’s classroom this morning.

Many of them are drug dealers, but some dabble in carjacking, home invasion and armed robbery. A few have shot people, a couple are gangbangers. The only thing they have in common is that they’re all violent, repeat offenders with long rap sheets and dim prospects.

And they are all looking to Barch for a way out.

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