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Starting over: North Charleston program offers resources, counseling to ex-offenders

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NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) -

We all make mistakes.

Sgt. Charity Prosser of the North Charleston Police Department, says it's not the mistakes that define who a person is, but how they overcome them.

That's the message Prosser hopes to get across with the department's S.T.A.N.D program, an initiative aimed at creating an environment conducive to success for men and women with a criminal past.

"You always run into men and women on the street who say, I'm trying, I just can't get a job, I can't get out of this cycle that I'm in," she said. 

"You often wonder as a police officer, I wonder if given the opportunity, would they change?"

S.T.A.N.D., an acronym for "Step Toward a New Direction, " is a year-long program, being made available to ex-offenders in the North Charleston community.  Among the free services offered include family counseling, mental and physical health care, drug counseling, education, and employment assistance.

The program is expected to launch in August, and interested candidates are asked to stop by North Charleston City Hall or contact Sgt. Charity Prosser directly at (843) 740-2879.

Prosser is expecting a class of 15 people to start the effort, with that number increasing throughout the year.

"The need is out there," she said.  "There is a large community out there within the city of North Charleston, and probably across the country, that need this type of program."

The S.T.A.N.D. concept is not entirely new to the city of North Charleston.  In 2011, the department targeted eight drug dealers from the Charleston Farms community, offering an alternative to a prison term, pending successful completion of the program.

Half were able to meet those requirements.

The re-vamped effort is voluntary, and is open to the entire North Charleston community.

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