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Safe & Secure: Local nun on a mission to rehabilitate inmates ge - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Safe & Secure: Local nun on a mission to rehabilitate inmates gets big boost

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San Luis Obispo -

This month, at least 17 prison inmates will be released into San Luis Obispo County following the passage of Prop 57 that is allowing the early release of certain prisoners.

A local nun has made it her life's mission to help incarcerated men and women turn their lives around and a local donor just gave her a big boost to help these inmates adjust to life outside of prison.

After being locked up four times, J.R. Richardson is one of Sister Theresa Harpin's success stories.

"When I got out before I was, why would I care about society? They didn't care about me, so I'm just going to be a criminal for the rest of my life,'" Richardson explained as to why he continued to commit crimes after spending time in jail.

Richardson is now on a straight path, has a steady job and healthy relationships and credits the re-entry program through "Restorative Partners," an organization Sister Harpin started six years ago.

"We now run about 35 programs in juvenile hall and jail and we learned from that that in order to be successful we had to have a pathway of continuum of care from in to out," she said.

She started that continuum of care last year with a mentorship program and matched 62 county jail inmates with community volunteers.

Recently, Restorative Partners received an $80,000 grant from the from the Hughes Charitable Foundation to open a house for prison parolees.

"We will have a place for them to live, we will help them get jobs ... and we'll have a mentor for them, someone who is going to be there companion," said Harpin.

Sister Harpin has learned recovery without relapse is rare, but with a safety net they are less likely to go back to their criminal ways.

When asked if she's seen the programs work, "Oh yes! Many, many times."

And along the way creating unbreakable bonds and in turn keeping our community safe and secure.

"I hope it shows in the men and women like me who are released and are doing good because of the programs," Richardson said.

SLO County's district attorney and sheriff are big supporters of Restorative Partners.

The organization is always in need of volunteers and donations.

Click here to find a way to help.

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