The Value: A Repeat Felon Chooses a Straight Life

Monday, January 25, 2010

Takeaway correspondent Farai Chideya talks to Deron McNair, who is trying to stay out of prison. (The Takeaway)

In our regular series, "The Value: What Matters to Us Most," correspondent Farai Chideya interviews a father of three in Newark, NJ, who is a repeat felon trying to stay straight.

Deron McNair was first incarcerated as a juvenile for aggravated manslaughter and has been in and out of prison ever since. He was released most recently eight months ago and he is holding a steady job as as a refuse collector with the Newark Sanitation Department. Deron says he was able to go straight thanks to the Newark Comprehensive Center for Fathers. He tells Farai why he lived a life of crime and how his three children are part of the reason why he's making the difficult choice to stay legit.


Farai Chideya

Comments [1]

Tracy Nelson from Newark, NJ

Please spread the word - we are here to help:

Newark Reentry Legal Services (ReLeSe)
Gina DeVito, Managing Attorney
(973) 645-0022

What is ReLeSe?

ReLeSe, a legal services program of the Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, is designed to help individuals with criminal records address civil legal matters that are barriers to successful community reintegration. Organized through a collaboration among Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Office, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and other organizations, and with the support of community based organizations, local law firms, IOLTA and the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, ReLeSe matches clients with volunteer attorneys to handle issues most commonly encountered by recently incarcerated individuals but not handled by existing legal services programs. Referrals to the program are made by local service providers that work with the reentry population, as well as by Newark City Hall. All assistance is provided free of charge.

Who is eligible for ReLeSe?

Any low-income Newark (or Essex County) resident who has been incarcerated in jail or prison, or otherwise has a criminal record, is eligible for ReLeSe assistance. Individuals can qualify regardless of how much time has passed since their release. ReLeSe attorneys have been trained to handle the following legal issues:

• Suspended driver’s license (including court fines and surcharges)
• Municipal court issues
• Child support issues
• Identity fraud
• Expungement

Clients facing other legal issues (e.g. bankruptcy, divorce, landlord/tenant disputes) are referred to a local legal services organization or to a ReLeSe volunteer who may be an expert in that area of law.

ReLeSe DOES NOT handle criminal matters. Quasi-criminal matters such as parole board hearings are considered on a case-by-case basis and per attorney availability.

Because all services are provided by volunteers, ReLeSe cannot guarantee that all applicants will receive services, but every effort will be made to assist eligible applicants.

Jan. 25 2010 04:41 PM

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