Gov. Dannel Malloy has been a big supporter of giving some ex-offenders a second chance.
On Thursday, he got the chance to see a program in Hartford that has been helping people get back on their feet by giving them job skills.
The Second Chance program has been around for 10 years and it is making a difference for those who need a second chance.
"It’s an amazing thing. The end game is not just having things grown here but community gardens,” Malloy said while touring a greenhouse where there are herbs and vegetables for a community garden.
What is unique about it is that many of those who work at the greenhouse are ex-offenders.
"We have a place where we can put them right into jobs as soon as they are trained, which is a wonderful thing. Hartford residents being trained in Hartford working in Hartford,” said Executive Director of the Knox Foundation Ron Pritz.
The Knox Foundation is a non-profit that trains ex-offenders on horticulture and landscaping and they plant trees all over the city.
"We call it Second Chance, but if it’s the 27th chance and that one works then that's a life changed and money saved,” Malloy said.
On Thursday, the governor heard from those who are working hard not to return to prison and Malloy said he would like to see more programs like this.
They hire non-violent offenders, most of whom have been arrested for drug crimes, and they try to give them a reason to get their lives straightened out and not return to prison.
"It will help you grow, just like the plants,” said Angel Pena, who is an ex-offender and a supervisor.
He spent a year-and-a-half in prison for illegal fighting. He had a hard time getting jobs once employers learned about his past. He doesn’t get paid a lot to do what he’s doing now, but it’s a job and for him, it’s a better life.
"Once you go through what I went through - you don't want to go back to that. You grow wiser and you learn how to make better choices,” Pena said.
The Knox Foundation has about 20 employees or members and they get money from the city of Hartford and private donations and they would like to expand the program to at least 50.
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