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CareSource programs provide options for ex-offenders

Posted at 6:58 AM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 06:58:37-04

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INDIANAPOLIS — Call it a path from a conviction to a rehabilitation to rejoining society as a contributing member.

What may appear as just a health insurance program is actually giving new hope to hundreds of ex-offenders from all of Indiana's prisons.

Take Latwan Jackson.

These days, he's a prep cook.

When Jackson landed the job at a hotel in downtown Indianapolis roughly a year and a half ago, he was beaming.

"Oh my god. I couldn't believe it," Jackson says, "I kept asking my boss, 'Are you going to fire me? Are you going to fire me?' He was like, 'No, get confident in your own ability.'"

Jackson has a passion for what he does now.

The spark lit when he was a little boy, waching his mother whip up her recipes in the kitchen.

The dishes he makes now impress her too.

When Jackson reached his early twenties, poor choices led him off his path, steering him to face serious charges, namely attempted murder.

He pleaded guilty and spent more than twelve years in prison.

A tough time.

But plenty of time to think.

Find his faith.

And want to be better.

"I did a lot of coming to terms with the mistakes of my past," Jackson admits.

It wasn't long after his release from prison in 2017, Jackson learned through a former cell mate about CareSource.

Caresource is a non-profit health insurer, based in Dayton, Ohio, providing health care coverage for medicaid consumers.

There is more to it, however, including its Life Services and re-entry program, which helps convicts transition into society.

Doctor Cameual Wright, who serves as the medical director for Indiana and oversees much of the program the Hoosier State, explains, "We like to understand their food issues, their housing issues. We have ways to help with education and employment. So we really would like to follow them over time to make sure they are set up for success."

The CareSource re-entry program started in just two Indiana prisons.

Over the last couple years, it has expanded to all fifteen prisons in the state, due to growing demand for its services.

So far, the program has helped more than 1,500 ex-offenders, as CareSource partners with schools and more than 160 local employers, who have made a commitment to hire CareSource members.

Caresource says its bigger employer partners inclide the City of Indianapolis, Coca-Cola, and Recycle-Force.

"Most of those employer partners," Dr. Wright says, "are willing to consider individuals who have a criminal background."

Dr. Wright says criminal backgrounds can be a detrimental barrier for ex-offenders who have paid their debt to society and are looking to be a reformed and contributing member.

CareSource removed a barrier for Latwan Jackson.

Thanks to the help he received from his life coach, he was able to attend Ivy Tech in Indianapolis and take culinary classes.

Nowadays, he's excelling in the hotel kitchen, with a new outlook on life and says it's all "through being responsible, and taking ownership, and not placing blame."

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