IN FOCUS Discussion: Reintegrating into society after serving time

In Focus

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – For former inmates, getting back on their feet and rebuilding their lives after paying their debt to society isn’t always easy: some experience challenges and barriers when trying to find a job or housing, increasing the chances for recidivism.

That is why representatives from 12 groups will participate in a weekly Reentry Fair, hosted by the Weber County Community Reentry Coalition to help people leaving jail or prison get back on the right path.

Toya Reynolds, a former inmate joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. His first experience of incarceration was at age nine and since then, he has been through the system multiple times.

He’s been behind bars 11 times and collectively served 25 years of time. Throughout his life, he’s suffered from multiple hardships including losing his mother at the age of 17 and becoming addicted to crack cocaine. He shared what prompted him to turn his life around, the barriers he faced when trying to reintegrate into society, and his encouraging message to others who may be dealing with similar challenges.

Laura Andelin, lead case manager for the Weber County Correctional Facility discussed the barriers and challenges that the former inmate population faces once they have paid their debt to society, the long-term consequences when someone is unable to reintegrate into society, how reentry services have changed in Weber County and within the Sheriff’s Office, and what could be done to improve the criminal justice system in Utah.

Heidi Little, supervisor for the Utah Department of Workforce Services talked about where the idea for the Reentry Fair came from, the services they offer at the event, similar initiatives taking place in other parts of the state, who can attend the fair, and how often it will take place.

The Reentry Fair will be hosted every Tuesday by the Weber County Community Reentry Coalition from 1 to 4 p.m. at 2540 Washington Boulevard in Ogden. Anyone is welcome to attend on a walk-in basis.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Reynolds, Andelin, and Little, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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