The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

April 20, 2009

Reentry program for ex-offenders kicks off with jail-to-success story

Part of to the equation to turn the lives of people with a criminal background around is having someone to lead by example that crime can be a thing of the past.

For the kickoff of the Edgecombe County reentry program It Starts with “U” Foundation (ISWU) on Saturday, the guest speaker Daryl V. Atkinson confirmed that it is possible to go from jail to success.

Atkinson gave his personal testimony of being sentenced to 40 months for drug trafficking in 1996 to currently working as a staff attorney for the Office of Indigent Defense Services in Durham.

While in prison, he said he broke many rules, was put in disciplinary segregation and sent from a medium to a maximum facility. While in jail he read the Bible, which was the only book he was allowed to have in disciplinary segregation, and came to the passage, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

Those words along with meeting the lawyer for the jail acted as inspiration for him to turn his life around and introduced him to law.

Atkinson said that his parents taught him good values, but he just made some bad decisions. He said turning to God at that point was a good decision.

“I knew where to come back to in my moment of turmoil,” Atkinson said.

When released from jail, he moved back in with his family, which provided a rare support system that many don’t have. He also went to vocational rehabilitation where he was offered a federal position in shipping and receiving of the produce department.

From there he got an associate’s degree, got a political science degree from Benedict College, received a full scholarship to the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota, all of which he was at the top of his class and lead him to his current position.

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