Center for Returning Citizens looks to help former inmates get back on track

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Criminal Justice Reform has been a pivotal topic in recent years. Jondhi Harrell experienced it all first hand.

"I came home in 2009 after serving 18 years straight and it was very difficult to reintegrate," says Jondhi, Founder of The Center for Returning Citizens.

Since his release, Harrell made it his mission to help others get back on track.

"We are normal people who may have done things that we shouldn't in the past, but we've served that sentence and we should now be accepted back," says Jondhi.

He founded The Center for Returning Citizens in 2012, a nonprofit staffed by former inmates who've had successful re-entries into society.

"If you hire a returning citizen who has their mind to focus on being free and never going back to prison, you will have one of the best employees that you ever had in your life," Jondhi says.

That's why one of the organization's top goals is to help clients find work.

"They need employment. They need housing, but most of all, they need the mental framework for success and that means looking past any problems they might encounter. It means adopting a vision of no matter what happens to me, nothing can make me go back to criminal behavior," says Jondhi.

And Jondhi hopes that not only former prisoners learn from his story, but society as well.

"The term 'returning citizens' means just that. You are returning to society with the full rights of citizenship and you want to accept that and you should be allowed to be that without a stigma attached to it," Jondhi says.

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