Former Offender Returns to Society After Governor's Plan

By: David Coy Email
By: David Coy Email

FISHERSVILLE -- Governor Bob McDonnell's plan to help inmates return to society has been in place since 2010.

The Governor recently announced that the Virgina Department of Motor Vehicles has given out about 500 identification cards as part of the plan.

A former offender, who has been out on of jail for 4 1/2 years, feels that with a great support system, he was given a second chance.

He now wants to help others and tell his story.

Shannon Norman was charged with drug possession and use. At the time, he didn't know what to think.

"It's pretty scary I'll be honest with you. To realize that you are going to loose a chunk of your life that you will never get back," said Norman.

When he was released, he realized things weren't the same.

"Your life is one way and once you come home, you're kind of stuck still expecting to see things the way they were when you left. You kind of have to re-adjust and adapt to all the changes," said Norman.

Norman said that getting a job was one of the hardest things to do.It took him nine months to find a job.

"It's like they view you that you can't change. Once you are a felon, you're always a felon, and it sticks with you. That's something that is difficult to take. Because, you can go through the whole process and change your life 180 degrees and,you aren't viewed that way by your employer," said Norman.

With McDonnell's plan, Norman has been able to become part of society once again. He has even joined a church to become a mentor to other people.He wants to pass along his experiences.

"That was a huge benefit that gave me an opportunity to work for somebody else and prove..you know... I was gonna be a hard worker was trying to change his life," said Norman.

Norman had final words for all ex-offenders.

"Anybody else out there, that has ever been through something like that, whatever man, be positive keep your head up. And realize life can change. Your old ways don't have to be your future," said Norman.

With all the struggles, Norman has been an influence at his church and he is currently going through a program which will make him like a pastor.

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