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Human fulfillment—this is what Andre Brown has a passion for. He is a case manager for Project RETURN and helps people get jobs after incarceration.
Brown has worked for Project RETURN for 13 years assisting men and women find fulfilling work after prison. But why is landing a job so important to a successful reentry?
Brown said there is a stigma on people reentering society after prison. A lot of companies will not look at an applicant if they have a felony or prison time on their record. However, getting a job is essential to successful reentry.
Brown spends his time on the phone with businesses in Milwaukee building relationships with organizations to get jobs for the clients of Project RETURN.
“Showing the world that ex-offenders can contribute and move forward after incarceration is so important. People need money to survive, to pay their bills and support their families,” said Brown
Brown said organizations like Project RETURN are essential because when people take the time to do reentry seriously, it works.
“People find fulfillment and pride in working. After prison, people really want that job to show that they can contribute,” said Brown.
Brown is one of the many staff at Project RETURN who were incarcerated. He landed in the adult system at age 17 after punching a classmate. He knows how much people reentering want to give back to the community—which is why he has been working with Project RETURN since 2007.
The most difficult part of helping people getting a job is human frailty. Whether that be from a lack of support system coming out, or addictions, Brown shared that we have to shine a light on these difficulties to help aid in successful reentry.
“We need to help people get jobs because it is an investment in humanity. It’s so important to believe that people can make mistakes and reparations, understand the societal factors that cause crime, and invest in successful reentry,” said Brown.
When he isn’t in the office, Brown is spending time with his 7-year-old daughter, Jayden, or making music.
You can be a part of Project RETURN’s mission. Join us at Project RETURN’s 40th anniversary Virtual Gala on Oct. 27 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. online. Register for the event and visit our site to learn more about the event: https://events.projectreturnmilwaukee.org/