While in prison, she became a participant in a program called Project Re-entry, a unique program in North Carolina prisons that teaches inmates job skills and everyday life management skills to ease their transition back into the working world once they’re no longer incarcerated.
Mans now works in Guilford County as an employee of Project Re-entry, which she said changed her life’s goals and confidence level for the better.
“The program broke me down to the lowest I can be broken down, and then it built me back up bigger, better, stronger,” she said at a presentation for National Reentry Week on April 28 before a crowd of law enforcement officers and criminal justice officials at Silverspot Cinemas in Chapel Hill.
The presentation was part of an effort to recognize North Carolina’s achievements toward reducing the rates of recidivism by implementing programs that help rehabilitate, counsel and guide past offenders.
Participants in Project Re-entry, which serves more than 500 inmates each year, undergo a curriculum that includes instruction on topics ranging from healthy interpersonal relationships to job interview practice.
The program also provides support once the participants are released from prison to help them re-integrate into their families and communities and keep from succumbing to emotional and substance abuse issues that may arise.
Donnie Richardson, a Project Re-entry graduate who went to prison as a teenager and was incarcerated for four years, said he was tempted to go back to dealing drugs when he got out — until he got his first paycheck at the job Project Re-entry helped connect him to.
“My entire life, I had never actually seen a paycheck — the moment I got that first paycheck, I knew I was never going back to jail,” Richardson said.