NJ facility offers second chance at life for ex-convicts

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Sept. 17, 2014

JERSEY CITY, NJ – America is considered a land of second chances where even former prisoners get another shot at life.

Thanks to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, “America’s Golden Door” is propped wide open to help former prisoners re-enter society.

Fulop along with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, former New Jersey Governors, and current Governor Chris Christie, came together Monday to launch Martin’s Place – a transitional stop for the unemployed and those leaving prison.

Located within the city’s high crime neighborhood, Martin’s place offers on-site addiction treatment, housing, employment and job training programs for its residents and ex-offenders.

“Every single year, thousands of people leave the prison system and jail system and return to cities just like Jersey City,” Fulop said, “And without help, those people return to the same environment prior to the incarceration, and without any change, that cycle repeats itself again and again.”

Named after African American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says this center is only the second of its kind in the US.

“It is a national model,” Pelosi said. “Martin’s Place is of national significance, you are not only helping people here; you’re helping people across the country because you’ll serve as a model that this can be done.”

Filipinos in Jersey City, whether they’re ex-offenders or just looking for housing, employment, and job training can check out what Martin’s Place has to offer.

“Men and women coming recently released from jail or incarceration in some way, looking to kind of re-integrate in society and get employable and so forth, they’ll provide a comprehensive sleuth of services.” Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro Jr. said. “So the impact would be great.”

During a chat with former governor Tom McGreevey, Christie says people who are pro-life have to be pro-life the entire life not just when they’re in the womb and support this ex-prisoner re-entry program.

“It’s easy, it seems to me, to be pro-life when you’re in the womb. They haven’t done anything to disappoint us,” Christie said.

“The kid who’s sitting in a jail cell in Hudson County, strung out on heroin” the two term Governor said, “Having done the awful things that he did to feed their addiction – it’s harder to be in favor of that life. But that child is one of God’s creations just as much as anybody else and we have to be there for that person as well.”

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com.

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