Criminal Justice Ministry seeks to reintroduce prisoners to society

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 federal prisoners earlier this week, several of whom are from the St. Louis area. One local agency plans on offering help with the transition to freedom.

Criminal Justice Ministry will be contacting the parole officers for those locale inmates and offering assistance. The ministry provides newly released prisoners with some of the basic supplies needed to get back on their feet. The agency also provides housing and 12-month program for prisoners to get back on their feet.

“It’s amazing when a little bit of help, a little bit of connectivity with an individual can go a very long way,” said Criminal Justice Ministry’s Executive Director Anthony D’Agostino.

President Obama has commuted the sentences of more prisoners than the previous nine presidents combined. D’Agostino said the trend means his agencies services are in high demand.

Jason Schratz knows about the help Criminal Justice Ministry can offer. He has been hooked on heroin, homeless, and incarcerated. He doesn’t like to think about where he’d be without the help he’s received.

“I’d probably be back on the streets, or dead, or back in jail,” Schratz said.

Schratz said the help he’s received has helped him land a job. He’s almost completed the Criminal Justice Ministry program and said it feels good to be contributing to society.

“It’s a daily struggle still, but really (I’m) just taking it a day at a time,” he said.