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Instilling Change: Darrin Eskridge

It has often been said that a positive attitude will lead to positive outcomes. Although life has thrown him some curveballs, Second Chance participant Darrin Eskridge’s optimistic perspective on reentry has led him down a path of personal success.

Spending more than 20 years in incarceration throughout his lifetime, Darrin knew that his most recent time in the justice system would be his last. In an interview, Darrin disclosed that both of his parents passed away while he was incarcerated. His parents had been very supportive during his time away and often sent money, wrote letters, and even visited as frequently as possible, which Darrin heavily relied on. After the tragic news of their deaths, it was time to become independent and learn to do things on his own. He soon began working, taking various classes, and helping others navigate their own life situations.

Once he was released in December 2019, Darrin maintained his positive, goal-oriented mindset. Less than a month after his release, Darrin's Parole Officer recommended he attend a Second Chance Job Club for assistance with employment and obtaining correct identification. Darrin was initially hesitant to join the Second Chance program, unsure of what to expect, stating he had a couple of negative experiences with other programs upon his return. Once enrolled and meeting with his Resource Specialist, Darrin knew he had made the right decision.

Initially, one of Darrin’s biggest reentry barriers was having incorrect identification. For the first few months after his release, he wasn’t able to obtain a job due to these errors. Through Second Chance, Darrin received help navigating this process. Once he got proper identification, he was able to secure full-time employment. Once employed, Second Chance assisted with work clothing and gas cards so that he could execute his job without any additional barriers. Although Darrin is thankful for every component of Second Chance, he is most grateful for the ability to be himself with the staff. He is also grateful for the consistent guidance without judgement.

Darrin currently serves as a Pan Operator at Flowers Foods. He began working there 6 months ago and has loved it ever since. According to Darrin, he enjoys his job because successful bread production often depends on his individual efforts. Outside of work, he is still very active in the Kansas City community. Darrin spends his free time fixing car stereos, working on his art, or finding fun things to do in the area with his family and friends. Recently, Darrin had the opportunity to share his story and accomplishments with the board members of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission.

Aside from his success at work, Darrin has completed federal probation as of December 2020, and will complete state parole in early 2022. He has also graduated from the Second Chance program, but has recently re-enrolled for assistance to secure independent housing. When asked what he is the most proud of, Darrin said that he is proudest of himself for becoming the person he is today. According to Darrin, having close family and friends act as a support system has been helpful but the true change came from within himself. He is also the proud owner of a car.

Darrin is a perfect example of someone who has succeeded once given a second chance. After talking to Darrin, it is very obvious that he doesn’t want to become complacent with his goals and is always looking for ways to better himself and his lifestyle. We admire his positive outlook and are excited to see what he does next!

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