Vegas Lost: Turning justice on its head

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Hope for Prisoners has hosted a lot of graduations.

Every year, men and women released from prison seek out a new start.

For CEO Jon Ponder, “hope” for them means mentoring, channeling their anger, getting ready for a job and staying out of trouble. Thousands of former inmates are graduates of his program.

“If you’re called the ‘department of corrections’ across this country, please examine the way you’re correcting people", says Ponder.

Ponder has changed what it is to leave prison in Nevada.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson wants to keep people out entirely. We can announce exclusively on Vegas Lost that Ponder, the former bank robber, and Wolfson the DA are teaming up.

“It's huge because it’s basically turning the criminal justice system upside down", says Wolfson.

Wolfson has started calling their new program “Hope for a Second Chance.”

Here’s how it works:

When someone is arrested for a serious crime, someone between 18-35, they will go through the same screening process as someone does with Hope for Prisoners.

If they are accepted into the program, they have the chance to avoid a prison sentence. Instead, they will be placed on strict probation and go through the rigorous 12-18 month long program Hope for Prisoners has designed.

"A lot of people in the system don’t have experience with basic things. I want to do it upfront", says Wolfson.

It’s a pilot program now, one that could reshape the way we think of crime and punishment; keeping prisoners out of prison.

“We don’t want to put people in prison if we can avoid it", says Wolfson. “Society doesn’t. Some people have to go but there’s a population that don’t and that’s who were going to try and help.”

The program has not started yet. The DA hopes to average 5-10 people early on.

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