Before Johnnie Peete was incarcerated, he was heavily involved in street life and everything else that came along with it. Johnnie described that life as a “vicious cycle” of stealing, using, and selling drugs. Once incarcerated, Johnnie said that he was saved from that cycle. Johnnie started regularly attending church and was baptized at Crossroads Correctional Center. He also took the opportunity to enroll in any change program he could get into. One of these was the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) program, a program that teaches leadership skills. Through the GLS program Johnnie met a number of people that supported him and are still in his life today. Johnnie also participated in a restorative justice program that focused on giving back resources to the community. Johnnie’s favorite program was the intensive therapeutic community program (ITC). The ITC program is a 12-month program aimed to teach life-tools to participants. An example of a lesson he learned was the emphasis of thinking about the consequences of his actions if he were to re-offend.
When Johnnie was first reentering society, he felt like no one was giving him the opportunity of a second chance. Even though he had already served over two decades in incarceration, his felt as if his past was still being held over him. “I was ready to give up,” said Johnnie. But Johnnie said when he needed help the most, Second Chance was there for him. Johnnie first heard about the Second Chance program while he was incarcerated. When he was released, he told himself that “failure wasn’t an option,” so he came to get his second chance. Once he was enrolled in the program, he worked a transitional job until he eventually got a job lead to Georgia Pacific, which is where he still works today. When asked what was most helpful about the program for Johnnie, he simply said “All of the program”. Johnnie thought that all the resources provided by Second Chance were helpful but noted that he had to put in the work to get the most out of his own transformation.
Johnnie is proud that he keeps reaching goals that he has set for himself. He completed a forklift training program, and he has now graduated from the Second Chance Program. His next life goal is to get certified to drive an 18-wheeler. His advice to others on probation and parole and seeking assistance is to never give up and have confidence in yourself. He also preached the importance of not resorting back to bad habits. For those that are spiritually inclined, he says “for the things that are outside of one’s control, let God fight your battles”.