LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – For some, being released from jail or prison is not always the new beginning they hope for as a large majority end up behind bars again. First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler has more on a transitional home that hopes to give inmates the chance to leave prison once and for all.
“Unfortunately, many times people who are stuck in the cycle of incarceration they don’t find the opportunity to have a second chance,” said Chris Crye, Next Chapter La Crosse Executive Director.
Looking to provide that second chance, Next Chapter La Crosse has created a transitional house for men after they are released from jail, prison, or treatment.
Crye said, “In La Crosse County we have about 4,200 bookings a year that are men getting booked and that represents 2,200 individuals. You can also see that’s kind of the issue as well. There’s more booking than there are individuals which means the same individuals are coming back.”
Crye says nationwide 66 percent of people return to jail within three years, 54 percent for the county. The organization provides more than just a roof, but also a community with an expected stay of six to 12 months.
The house can fit five residents with each resident getting their own bedroom and they welcomed their first resident Mike Nelson back in July.
Nelson said, “Here the mentorship, the resources they offer, the security, the openness with which we can discuss issues. It seems when you’re in the system you are just trying to get through it. Where here you can openly talk about issues with other people who have been through it. The fellowship is ridiculously amazing.”
Next Chapter La Crosse works with other organizations including the Salvation Army, Wafer, and Western Technical College to provide food and education.
The organization is focused on men as 75 percent of inmates in the county are male but would like to add a women’s program down the road.
Nelson explains how easy it was before to continue the cycle.
“When I got out and wanted to do better, I decided I would take a little shortcut to get there quicker. I didn’t have any housing, I didn’t have anything, I just needed a little bit to get me started,” said Nelson.
Now he is motivated and proud to be a resident at the next chapter house.
The non-profit allows those staying to live rent free for the first six months, after that there is a 450-dollar fee and all houseguests are required to work.
If you would like to donate, there’s a link on our website.
In La Crosse, Hayley Spitler, First News at Nine.