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PACE Indy gives ex-offenders a second chance in the workforce

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Posted at 5:30 AM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 13:03:37-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The impact of incarceration affects the whole family and the community.

PACE, Public Advocates in Community re-Entry, is a nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by incarceration to become self-sufficient to build stronger communities. PACE believes everyone deserves a second chance, including two-time offender, Montclair Hansbrough.

"I made a lot of bad decisions in my life," Hansbrough said.

The 26-year old ex-offender is now a dad of a 2-year-old daughter, a soon-to-be husband, and a recent hire for a construction company. His journey to this spot in his life has been a difficult one.

Hansbrough is addicted to marijuana. Hansbrough said he was committing robbery, stealing cars, and manipulating his loved ones.

"And that's what ended up leading me to getting my second felony, which was attempted murder, because I was trying to get money for my fix," he said. "I ended up getting caught, and at that time, that was the best thing that happened to me."

Hansbrough spent three months behind bars, before a year and half of house arrest. That is when he started applying himself to PACE Indy.

"I was ready to accept help and actually do something with it," Hansbrough said. "I was able to see, they are really there for you. And whatever you put in, they are going to give you twice as much and if not more."

In Marion County in 2017, PACE says almost 40 percent of people who were incarcerated returned within three years. PACE clients, however, only saw a less than 4 percent return rate that same year.

"I understand you get locked up because of what you do," Hansbrough said. "I believe that you got to pay for what you done. But when you get out of jail you are still paying for it. Because you can't find a job, no one wants to take a risk on you, you can't even get housing because no one want to take a risk on you. So you just end up in a circle."

PACE's latest annual report says the organization served more than 4,000 clients in 2017, and more than 1,000 of those clients secured employment.

"We are just trying to walk beside them, hold hands, while all of these goals that are set get met," Gina Fears, assistant director of recovery and community services for PACE Indy, said. "When a person returns home, there is so much to rebuild, you really can't do it alone, you can't do it quickly. The individuals that are here at PACE, the staff here at PACE, are really walking side by side and helping to make that happen."

Pace Indy offers coaching in employment, income support, finances, peer recovery and mental health. As well as youth employment services to help young adults to secure and grow in a job.


Through PACE, Hansbrough learned of employment opportunities and gained the connections to tools to help him find a career suited for him. He says he also took advantage of classes they offer in budgeting skills.

"If you go back out there, there is no telling if you are going to make it back" Hansbrough said when asked about what motivates him to continue down this new path. "And that right there, that scares me. Not to say who I will let down as far as my daughter, my fiance, my family. PACE who had supported me throughout this whole transition. And letting down myself you know, like I said, I don't want to be that guy anymore and I am not going to say I don't want to be, because I am not going to be. And that's what it is."

PACE Indy is opening a new Recovery Resource Center on Jan. 24. It will be located at 2855 N. Keystone Ave. in Indianapolis. This is to serve as an open door for those seeking assistance in recovery and re-entry where they can go for one-on-one peer counseling.

"The resource center is a blend of a couple of different things," Fears said. "We will still be doing peer-to-peer recovery coaching, which is saying that one person who has found a way to recover from their substance abuse issues is now received some training and wants to work with others that are seeking recovery and coach them through it."

Fears says this resource center is to be a a safe-haven for those who are going through recovery, especially those in early recovery.

They will be doing walk-in services, assessment services, telephone coaching, and maintaining several different relapse prevention groups. PACE is also adding a rapid response program.

"We will be engaged with the criminal justice system," Fears said. "A person may end up incarcerated or at one of the engagement centers or one of the treatment centers and may want to be engaged with a recovery coach and start that process. So we will take that call and rapidly respond so we will show up on site there at some of the behavior courts and start that process there."

PACE wants the community to know they are available and ready to help. Individuals interested in seeking that support can walk in without an appointment to the new recovery center.

Fears says she understands from personal experience the impact a safe space like this can have on someone in recovery.

"I want to see the next Gina walk through those doors, that is why I get up everyday, that is why I do the work," Fears said. "Because I know there is another young lady or another young man somewhere that suffered like I did at one point in time. I want to see them walk through that door and I want them to see light in the eyes of us that are here, for them to know that there is a way out. There is a reason it is peer to peer recovery coaching because we just want to share the hope."

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