Shelby County Reentry Office aids in helping former prisoners find jobs and change their lives

Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 5:43 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 20, 2023 at 8:03 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Hundreds of men and women enter Shelby County’s Office of Reentry every month, but finding work after prison can be a challenge.

Now one man is leading the charge to make a change and improve their lives after prison.

“When it comes to reentry, we want people to be accountable and responsible, but at the same time we want to offer them the opportunity to really have a chance at the American dream,” said DeAndre Brown, Executive Director, Shelby County Office of Reentry.

For many ex-offenders, after spending years behind bars, that dream can seem unattainable.

“One of the biggest challenges is a lack of hope, " Brown said. “It’s very difficult to infuse hope into a person that doesn’t see past right now.”

Brown tells Action News 5, it’s something he understands firsthand. He spent time in state and federal prison, and now uses his experiences to help those trying to make a change.

“We prepare men and women for life,” he said. We’re not just focused on work, we’re focused on creating healthy, healed people - we want to make sure that they have the resources that they need to successfully re-enter.”

For many starting over begins at the Shelby County Office of Reentry.

“When I got back out in the job market, I couldn’t find a job,” Darrell Anderson said. “There was so many doors closed.”

Anderson spent decades in and out of jail but decided to make real changes in 2019.

He says Director Brown along with many others in the office of reentry, were a part of his transition.

“It’s about getting life skills, preparedness [and] dealing with your mental health,” Anderson said.

“It’s not just how many people you can see in a day, it’s what the quality of the interaction is,” Brown said. So, when they come back, they’re looking for you.”

That level of care is what kept Anderson coming back to the office of reentry.

“Words mean something. It’s life or death in the power of words,” he said. When I came into the Shelby County Office of Reentry, I was encouraged ... this is not the end; you can do it.”

Anderson tells Action News 5 he met his wife through the program, started a career in the Maintenance department with MATA, and made major emotional strides since walking through the doors.

He says effort matters and those seeking change must take the first step.

“It’s a win win situation, but you have to be willing,” Anderson said.

The county’s new website is called

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