DELAWARE CO. — A Delaware County Sheriff's deputy has made it his mission to end generational crime in his area by helping convicted felons get jobs after they pay their debt to society.
Kenny West said he grew up in Muncie and noticed, for a lot of his neighbors, crime seemed to run in the family.
"What was going on in my community was is you have a generation of felons. Father is a felon, his dad, the grandfather was a felon in prison, and now his kids and grandkids are going on the same path. How do we break that cycle?" said West.
That's when he came up with his program, Second Chance Dads. He's partnered with local companies that are willing to hire convicted felons after they've served their time.
"When we pulled in the first recruit at that time, we had a 'we don't hire felons' policy," said John Smith with Midwest metal.
He said since the program began, they have hired 14 convicted felons. Most of them now working their way up the chain of command on the production floor and in their lives.
"I remember a guy saying this is the first time I ever had insurance, and I feel good going to work," said West.
West said the point of this program isn't to give convicted felons a free ride; the point is to provide them with the opportunity to succeed.
"Why don't you give a man teach him how to become a fisherman instead of giving him fish. Because he wants to have the opportunity to pay for his children to get into parks and stuff like that. That's what these men need; that's what this community needs; they don't need a handout they need opportunities," said West.
Now both West and Smith are working to help more people and get more companies involved in giving dads a second chance.
As an officer, West tells me he and the rest of his department – don't want to lock people up—they want to get people on the right path.
"I don't make anything off of this. There is nothing I make off of this, and I told them by you paying me is being successful," said West.
Both West and Smith want to see companies here and across the country get rid of their no felon policy because right now, felons are the only class of people who aren't protected against discrimination in the workplace.
To get involved with Second Chance Dads you can reach them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org