Cynetra Freeman, founder of the nonprofit Mississippi Center for Re-Entry, knows what it’s like to have a second chance at life.
In 2010, Freeman was faced with a three-year sentence for trafficking heroin. Freeman’s public defender worked tirelessly to get her out of jail and, once the case was resolved, she was faced with the struggle to re-enter society.
Once out of jail, Freeman realized that post-release services were important to getting her life back on track and re-establishing herself outside of probation services.
“After getting out of jail, the struggle of being able to re-enter and trying to regain entrance into society made me want to start Mississippi Re-entry,” Freeman said.
It took a year, but Freeman regained strength and was able to re-enter into the community. Though there were many challenges, she was able to get back on her feet.
“I didn’t have a good support system, but I did get back on my feet,” she said. “I became ill and had to step away from the nonprofit and take care of my health.”
Freeman was diagnosed with chronic end-stage renal kidney disease and had to take dialysis. When she became ill, she relocated to Mississippi to be closer to family. During her time in Mississippi, Freeman regained strength and started to pursue her dream to establish Mississippi Re-entry as a nonprofit. She founded Mississippi Reentry in 2017, and it has become a beacon to the community.
“Re-entry is a social service, and I didn’t want to make a profit off of anything but to change lives,” she said.
Mississippi Center for Re-entry has many programs, including housing, jobs and education. Freeman knows first-hand what an individual needs and knows where they are coming from.
“I have walked in the shoes of those individuals, and I know what they will need,” she said.
These programs are designed with the person in mind with case plans tailored especially for the client. Businesses, such as Concord Career College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, FedEx, Home Health and Best Notary are a few businesses that have invested their programs into the organization.
MCR has a virtual summit Aug. 5 on Zoom. The vision for this summit is to raise awareness and shed light on the struggles of those leaving incarceration. Attendees will give people a glimpse into why re-entry is needed. Sessions will be taught by people who have been incarcerated and those who work in re-entry. The sessions can also prepare anyone interested in helping those formerly incarcerated learn about re-entry.
Now that Mississippi for Re-entry has been in the community for a while, Freeman feels she can help people believe in re-entry. Also, in five years, she expects a decrease in people going to jail and recidivism rates decreasing as a result of her work .
To sign up for Mississippi Re-entry or to receive information, visit the website at www.msreentry.org.