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Instilling Change: James Falkner

Kansas City has many attractions -some good, some bad. James Falkner grew up in the 90’s in Kansas City and lived a good life. He grew up in a well-rounded family, and even though life wasn’t the best, it had its beautiful moments. James lived with his mother and siblings and was loved and supported by his family. However, he wanted more than what was provided. James felt that others around him had a “flashier” lifestyle -the best clothes, shoes, and cars. He was drawn toward this type of life. In his teens, James made a life altering decision to engage in the fast life. Things seemed to be going fine until two days before his 18th birthday in 1996, when he would be arrested and incarcerated for 19 years.

To make his time go by faster during incarceration, James moved around from camp to camp (prison to prison) in the state of Missouri. It was his mother’s passing during his time in prison that set him on the straight and narrow path. With the support of his grandmother and siblings, James decided to obtain his GED, take a few computer courses, and to pay it forward. Using the resources he had during his time locked up, James spent a fair amount of time reading and researching ways to improve his life upon release.  He was determined to stay out of trouble and come home with a better version of himself.

James heard about the Second Chance (SC) program while incarcerated. In 2020, James was released and began his journey with Second Chance. The information and resources he received on job placement skills and how to maintain life proved to be beneficial. Not only did James manage to gain employment, but he also obtained his Class B CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) through the resources that his SC Resource Specialist (RS) gave him. James stated, “The RS really does care, and didn’t leave me out in the cold.” He was fortunate to receive continued encouragement from his RS, along with his family members. The empathy the RS showed James was not manufactured, it was sincere.

With his newfound freedom and career as a truck driver, James was soon able to get his home furnished with the help and resource connections from Second Chance. One the biggest barriers James says he had, was realizing he could not blame anyone but himself. He learned that taking accountability and making the right choices was key. James stated that the advice he would give to someone in his former situation is that “It’s not worth it. Think before you act. There is always a better way.”

Due to his choices when he was younger, James had always felt that he was dumb. He noted that if he had heard he is “not stupid and he is cable,” this would have helped him heal and change much quicker. Currently, James is taking advantage of his Class B CDL and enjoys his peaceful life, staying out of the mix of the fast life. He is currently a homeowner and is soon to be the father of a baby girl.


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