JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A summit was held in the City of Jacksonville Monday morning about the possibility of developing a re-entry program in the community. 

Community leaders gathered at the Sandy Run Baptist Church with a goal to make Onslow County a better place for everyone by giving people second chances.  

“When I got out it was a struggle, a real struggle,” said Rev. Malcolm Batts of Servants’ Tabernacle Ministries. 

Batts said when he got out of prison, he couldn’t find a job.  

“I went to legislative you know, I went to Raleigh, I tried to find out why I couldn’t get a job even though I was good enough to work for $1 a day. You know, doing county business while I was in,” said Batts.  

Since then, he’s turned his life around, and now he wants the same opportunity for others. 

“We want to make sure that we’re taking advantage of establishing these councils and more of the rural areas and Onslow seems like a key fit to begin to do that,” said NC Department of Public Safety Reentry Program Manager, Monica Artis. 

Artis said these programs are all about second chances.  

“A local re-entry council is a network of individuals who come together and collaborate, to provide services to individuals who are returning to their communities. these services can consist of anywhere of housing, transportation, employment, treatment,” said Artis.  

They start with the community coming together to make a difference.  

“The problem is that we have people that keep reoffending and reoffending and reoffending. And so if we can break that cycle, it’s good for their children. It’s good for their parents, it’s good for their neighbors is good for the community,” said Jacksonville Police Department Chief Michael Yaniero. 

Going forward, Batts has a message to share with those interested in starting this reentry program in Onslow County.  

“Be sincere, be sincere. From top to bottom, whatever your position, be sincere,” said Batts.  

There are currently 17 re-entry councils across the state serving 19 counties – and one of those counties is Craven. 

There will be another meeting in a couple of weeks to discuss the next steps in organizing this program in Onslow County.