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Ex-Convicts Get A Second Chance In South Dallas

By Andrea Lucia, CBS 11 News
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An inmate waits for the bars to a dorm at a minimum-security facility in Texas to be opened. (credit: Joe Raedle/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

An inmate waits for the bars to a dorm at a minimum-security facility in Texas to be opened. (credit: Joe Raedle/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Just last year, Jesse Prindel was sitting in prison, serving a sentence for cocaine possession. “When I got out, I’d lost my family, my wife, my kids,” he said. “Pretty much everything, from drug use.”

Now, Prindel is working toward a better life. “I go to church three times a week. I work 50 to 60 hours a week,” he said.

Prindel credits his dramatic turnaround to the Philemon House, a home for men who are re-entering the community after time behind bars. Founders said that there is a big need for this kind of place in south Dallas, which they claim is the second most likely place for a man to go after leaving a Texas prison.

The federal government predicts that most ex-convicts will re-offend. The Philemon House aims to reverse that trend. “The men that come to our house, they work in the community and restore things – paint porches, build handicap ramps,” explained Philemon House program director Dennis Gant.

According to Gant, the house provides job counseling, addiction therapy and Bible study – a Christian-based program designed to put men on a new path.

About 90 percent of the program’s participants have stayed out of jail.

Now, the organization is ready to expand. Organizers recently bought a 13-unit apartment complex on Holmes Street and hope that it will eventually house as many as 50 people. On Sunday night, the Philemon House held a banquet to raise money and educate supporters about their cause.

“Lot of people want to change,” Prindel said. “But when they get out, they don’t have an opportunity to change.”

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