As part of a newer crime initiative program called Project EJECT, those in the Meridian and surrounding areas who have been incarcerated are getting a second chance. “I’m in a sober living program over here, and I’ve come to see about getting my driver’s license back and check on a few things, such as housing and all that, so I can transition on my own.” Derek Dufren is one of many who are taking advantage of Meridian’s first Re-Entry Services Fair under United States Attorney, Mike Hurst. “Part of EJECT is not just prosecuting violent crime, but it’s also getting into communities and offering services to individuals who have previously services time in jail, so that they’re back on their feet and become law-abiding citizens,” said Hurst.
For people like Dufren who recently got out of prison, events like this are vital for his transition back into society, and his dreams. “Well, to start my own business back up—I had business before, and I lost all of it, but now I’m going to get it started again,” said Dufren. According to Hurst, presenting options such as these re-entry fairs are of the utmost importance as soon as people are released. “Ninety-five percent of those who are in prison are going to be released one day. Every year, that’s 600,000 people. We also know that, if we don’t get to them first, the recidivism rate, the occurrence of recommitting crimes, is about 70% within the first three years.” Since Project eject was first started in Jackson in December of 2017, crime has dropped 7% in the city of Jackson.