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Group breaks ground on transitional home for people returning from prison

"NEW ORLEANS — People released from prison often have no identification cards, clothes or place to sleep. On Tuesday a group that helps formerly incarcerated people adjust to life outside bars is breaking ground on a new transitional housing building. “The First 72 Plus is where you can come for help, and the help you need to get started. But that does not come without expectation and accountability," said Kelly Orians, First 72 Plus Director. "Around the office, we refer to this as paying it forward.” The group's name is a nod to the critical first 72 hours after someone is released from prison. Their goal is to help residents find a job, housing and then mentor the next person who just was released from prison. The nonprofit launched in 2014 and is led by a board of formerly incarcerated men. It has housed more than 170 people so far in a three-bedroom home and rental properties and has provided services to more than 1,300 others. The new building, with room to sleep eight people, will be built next to the Orleans Justice Center Jail in Mid-City on land leased by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, District Attorney Jason Williams and Sheriff Marlin Gusman and other city leaders attended the ceremony. "First 72, thank you for what you’re doing. We cannot do criminal justice work without talking about what it looks like to come back to the community," Williams told the crowd. To donate to First-72 Plus, go here. "

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