Believing strongly in the benefit of lifetime learning and moral outlook, the Chinese philosopher and politician Confucius once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. As Second Chance graduate Thomas Prewitt can tell you, learning is not a linear process, but rather circular and wrought with growing pains.
Prewitt describes his previous life as miserable - littered with drugs, alcohol, selfishness, and crime. He explains that he had fallen into a pattern of having respect for no one, but a 12-year prison sentence became a stark wakeup call that saved his life. Prewitt spent most of his incarceration at WMCC in Cameron and found his guidance in Christianity, strengthening himself in faith and fellowship. He made up his mind that he did not want to steal and get high, so he entered the therapeutic community. He says, “I heard these guys wanted to be better, and I knew I wanted to be better, so I started to learn about myself and my addiction”. Prewitt dove into addiction recovery and self-help books and began to apply the principles to his life, really practicing honesty and integrity with the help of the leadership in the therapeutic community. He found mentorship and guidance from the inmate facilitators and began to thrive in his new life. It was through these relationships with his TC facilitators that he was introduced to the Pre-Release group at WMCC.
In Pre-Release groups, Prewitt removed himself of pride about other people telling him what to do to be responsible; he really began to soak up valuable information that he could apply in principle, an attribute he ascribes to successful reentry. Eventually, he began to train to be a facilitator, himself. It was here, as a Facilitator of Pre-Release groups at WMCC that Prewitt met the Second Chance Team. Prewitt was not supposed to be released until 2022, but his inspiring transformation granted him to be released in July 2019.
Coming home to old playmates and old playgrounds wasn’t an option – “I remember how things used to go. I don’t go. If they’re not living right, I don’t associate”. So, he dug deep coming home to Kansas City and entered the Second Chance Program, receiving assistance with employment, community resources and being held accountable along the way. Prewitt says, “They focused on what I wanted to do, narrowed down my strengths, and made sure I didn’t have ‘just a job’”. Prewitt attributes his quick enrollment in the program to meeting the team during his incarceration, saying he knew what the program was all about, and he trusted the process. “Staff were honest, open and willing to help. There was a true, genuine nature about everyone. They showed true care and concern.”
Two years since his release back to the community, Prewitt is most proud of his ability to listen to others. He says, “Before, you couldn’t tell me nothing.” He feels pride for living a responsible life and feels needed with his family, inspiring him to do the next right thing. When asked what advice he would give others walking in similar shoes, Prewitt suggests, “There’s a better way. Get out of the way. I did wrong and it got me nowhere – choose what you want because you won’t do anything good unless you try.”
Thomas Prewitt may have officially graduated as a Second Chance Program participant, but he is still an active member of the community, offering fellowship, sponsorship and guidance to young men and women in Kansas City. Having been part of our lives for several years now, we are excited to see him continually grow and flourish on this journey of life!