(NewsNation) — The number of incarcerated persons in the U.S. is the highest in the world, with around 2 million people behind bars at a given time.
Zeus Luby, now the director of programming for Rehabilitation Enables Dreams, Inc., in Georgia used to be among them.
His story starts in West Philadelphia, where he grew up in poverty and hardship, but still remained community-conscious.
Although Luby encouraged friends to make good choices and not commit crimes, he ended up getting arrested himself at 17, he said on “Morning in America.”
It was a minor crime, but a clerical error by his county led Luby to spend 7 years as a convicted felon.
Now, he is supporting others in their rehabilitation journey at Rehabilitation Enables Dreams, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta whose mission is keeping people out of the criminal justice program permanently with social, financial and civil literacy programs.
It offers a 12-month Restorative Justice Curriculum that helps participants leave the court system and “re-enter society as thriving members of the community.”
Luby said RED focuses a lot on reducing recidivism, which is when somebody goes back to jail after being let out.
“In our nonprofit, we’ve been running this program for going on eight years, and in that eight-year span, our recidivism rate is less than 10%,” Luby said.
Another focus RED has is humanizing the people it works with.
“They’re not rejects, they’re not the bottom of society, and they deserve a second chance because we all make mistakes,” Luby said. “But we weren’t punished for the rest of our lives….so that’s what RED is about — giving a second chance to deserving young people who have the capacity, that desire, the ability to make a change.”