When is the Debt PaidSAVANNAH, GA (April 5, 2016) – The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department has partnered with several other organizations and charities to sponsor the second annual “When is the Debt Paid?” conference aimed at helping those with a criminal history become successful citizens.

Representatives from the SCMPD’s End Gun Violence: Step Forward initiative and the Savannah Impact Program will be facilitating the conference which will be held at Armstrong State University on Saturday, April 9, 2016.

The goal is to help citizens returning from incarceration and those who have criminal histories to gain tools to assist in their successful reintegration. This conference is packed with relevant information, inspirational speakers, and valuable insight to help citizens with criminal histories to successfully navigate through community supervision, family challenges, negative peer pressure, employment/housing rejection, etc.

Of the 17,888 inmates released by Georgia Department of Corrections in 2015, 698 of them reported Chatham County as their place of residence. A significant number of them returned to the Savannah-Chatham area with $25 given to them by DOC.

“When they return to our communities, many are often denied employment, housing, voting rights, etc. because of their felonies,” said End Gun Violence Project Manager Dr. Maxine Bryant. “So, the questions are, when is their debt paid to society so that they can become functional members of their respective communities? How can they successfully navigate through the maze of reintegration and experience success in gaining full rights of citizenship? Is this even possible?”

This year’s Keynote Speaker is Eugene Brown, a convicted felon who served 19 years in federal prison for bank robbery. Since his release 25 years ago, Brown and has helped thousands of wayward youth and returning citizens to successfully re-think their choices and turn their lives around. A major motion picture based on his life was released in 2014 with Academy Award Winner, Cuba Gooding starring as Brown.

A major component of this year’s conference is a Transitional Jobs track offered by Coastal Workforce Services. The End Gun Violence: Step Forward Initiative is committed to help group gun violence perpetrators to stay off of the streets through support and employment. Coastal Workforce Services is helping to make this happen through an innovative Transitional Jobs program.

This year’s conference is sponsored by Armstrong State University, Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, Bryant Educational Seminars and Training, Dismas Charities, Georgia Department of Corrections Coastal Transition Center, Healing Communities of Savannah, and Serv-Rite Professional Services.

This is a free conference for Savannah’s returning citizens (persons with prior felonies). However, individuals must register by calling 912-210-8037 by Thursday, April 7. The conference begins at 8:00 am with continental breakfast and sign in. Lunch is included.

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The Savannah-Chatham initiative to End Gun Violence: Step Forward is an approach that targets the most violent groups and gangs members who are responsible for a majority of the shootings and homicides in our community. This approach tells gang and group members to lay down their weapons. It also gives them the option to seek help from community organizations to receive counseling, job training, and other services to help turn their lives around.

End Gun Violence: Step Forward is a partnership with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, community organizations, neighborhood associations, the City of Savannah, the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and others.

For more information visit http://savannahpd.org/EndGunViolence