Client Stories

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Compassion & Innovation At Work

 Pretrial - Latonya

“Pretrial release helped me keep my family together”

Latonya Hart was born in Sanford, North Carolina and moved to Durham in 2003 to be closer to her biological family.  Years of foster care led to a revolving door of placements and schools, and although Latonya was unable to finish high school, she did attend training in medical coding and billing.

While living in Durham, Latonya was arrested on some serious charges, and Latonya was booked into the Durham County Detention Facility. Pretrial Services staff from the Criminal Justice Resource Center were present at her first appearance and they worked with the legal system to get Latonya released with a stipulation for electronic monitoring.

If it weren’t for Pretrial Services, I would still be locked up and my case has gone on for over a year” Latonya said.  “I have several children who certainly would have been split up in foster care if I was sitting in jail.  My pretrial caseworker is so helpful – she always returns my calls and many times has made accommodations so I can tend to my children”

 Reentry - Julio

“I knew this was the place for me"

One doesn’t interact long with Julio Simuel before a couple words come to mind – hardworking and entrepreneurial.  Although he works full time for Durham County’s General Services Department, in his spare time he also manages complex contracts for a cleaning company, work that includes the staffing function.

In his much younger days, Julio was a “car runner” for his uncles in Asheville, making direct drug sales on the street.  He learned the business from bottom up and soon progressed to managing much larger amounts of drugs and cash.  Predictably, this activity landed him in prison at the age of 16 and he would remain incarcerated until he was 34.  As his 18 years in prison wound down, the Criminal Justice Resource Center identified him as a potential client for their Reentry Services.  Julio states “CJRC offered housing assistance, job training and many other services that I needed to make a new life. When a staff member brought me downstairs to the clothing closet, it was the first time that a male had ever provided me with pants, shirts and socks. He treated me with complete respect and I knew this was the place for me”

Julio credits his resilience to a strong faith in God, and takes great pleasure in paying his blessings forward by returning to the CJRC to speak with others who are going through the same difficult transition he faced.

 Employ - Tammy J

“They told me to go for it!”

Tammy Jackson was born in Boston and moved to Durham in 2007 to care for a family member.

Because of some things in her background, she was having difficulty in finding stable employment and began attending Employment Services classes at the Criminal Justice Resource Center.  “Those classes taught me some skills that I needed, and I was able to help others in the classes with some skills that I already had.  When a position opened at the library, the CJRC staff told me to go for it, and provided encouragement.  I did apply, and was granted an interview.  When I arrived for the interview, there were six people on the panel, but I felt prepared because of the mock interviews we did at the CJRC.”

Tammy got that temporary job at the library, and was later able to attain a full-time position, with benefits, at the Department of Social Services where she is currently working. 

 STARR - Stacy S

“STARR helped me walk away from my old life and begin a new one with dignity”

Stacy Stanley was born in Cincinnati and spent part of her childhood in foster care.  She arrived in Durham as part of a roving crew involved in financial scams.  She also arrived in Durham with a persistent and expensive heroin habit.

While incarcerated at the Durham County Detention Facility, Stacy elected to meet with a clinical social worker from the Criminal Justice Resource Center and enroll in the STARR Program (Substance  Treatment and Recidivism Reduction). “The staff at STARR never judged me or put me down.  The program helped me to identify and let go of some hurts from the past.  I was happy being me again”.

Life has thrown a lot at Stacy since leaving the STARR program and jail.  But through it all, she has used the principles learned in STARR to remain sober.  She recently passed the first two on-line courses in her quest to become a substance abuse counselor.



"I choose not to use."

My name is Ira and I am an addict.

Before I came to STARR/STARR GRAD in 2004, my life was hell.  I begged, borrowed and stole to feed by drug habit.  I was homeless, penniless, and in and out of jail.

I was put in Drug Court and STARR/STAR GRAD.  After 4 months, I entered a recovery house and stayed there for 11 months.  I went into another recovery house until August 2006 when I moved into my own 1 bedroom apartment.

Today I pay bills, am part of volunteer organizations and am a productive member of society. I choose not to use.