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From Incarcerated To Advocate: How One Man Uses His Experience To Help Individuals With Reentry

With Georgia placing among the top four states with the highest rates of incarceration, one advocate for criminal justice reform is using his personal experience to help other formerly incarcerated individuals reintegrate into their communities.

For Tony Kitchens, Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) Field Director of Prison Fellowship and board member, reentering society after his incarceration was not a smooth transition.

“My greatest challenge was not doing the 11 years in prison, it was living as a marginalized citizen for over 29 years as a result of these tough-on-crime policies,” Kitchens said.

In 1974, Kitchens was incarcerated for a relatively minor offense. Kitchens said that in the 1970s, the criminal justice system “was all about punishment, it was all about lock them up and throw away the key.” At the time, reform efforts were not even a consideration and reentry services were virtually nonexistent.

Now, he is dedicated to changing this issue in Georgia.

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