Meet Casey Irwin. She served time in three separate facilities for "a couple of drug possessions and a DUI or two." A self-proclaimed hermit, she didn't want help from others in staying clean. But when she ended up in Shakopee for 14 months, Casey knew something had to change.
"What I was doing wasn't working," she admits.
PRISON FELLOWSHIP ACADEMY
At Shakopee, Casey participated in the Prison Fellowship Academy™. The experience made a difference in her life because through the Academy, Casey found people willing to support her.
"That's what I needed," she explains. "I needed people to tell me how to live."
LIFE AFTER SHAKOPEE
As Casey sits at her kitchen table, she gestures at the apartment around her. Casey is blunt about her circumstances—her apartment is not in the "best neighborhood," and she doesn't like her neighbors. But she appreciates what she has. It is, after all, her own place.
"I got this place is because the owner wants to give people chances," she says. "But [his] girlfriend didn't want to rent to me."
She doesn't sugarcoat the reason why.
"If you look at me on paper, I look like a horrible person!" Casey says. "I really do."
Casey expects people to react as they do, but that doesn't mean she's used to it.
"I just want somebody to give me a break. Let me be successful. Let me see what that is," she says.
UNLOCK THE SECOND PRISON
For Casey Irwin and 65 million Americans like her, life after their release becomes a "second prison." There are 44,000 documented legal restrictions on their education, employment, and housing opportunities, as well as widespread social stigma. While many people find hope and a new identity behind prison walls, they can lose it a few steps past the prison gate when faced with barriers that can seem insurmountable.