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      Foundry program keeping ex-inmates out of the prison system

      Thousands of inmates are released from Alabama prisons each year. Many end up back in the system, but a program in Bessemer is keeping ex-inmates out of overcrowded prisons.

      Brian Murphy has been out of prison{}seven months trying to change his life's direction.

      "I'm back reunited with my family, so I'm in touch with them on a daily basis. I've got a good job that I was referred to by The Foundry."

      He's been to prison twice for drug charges. While behind bars, he learned about The Foundry's re-entry program from another inmate.

      "People believe in it. I believe in it."

      Each year, up to 100 men are enrolled in the program. Around 150 are waiting for parole so they may be released to the Foundry.

      Executive Director Bill Heintz says, "I just wish we had a bigger building because there's a lot of people that want to come to The Foundry in the prison system, but instead because of no space, they go back to their old neighborhoods."

      And back to a life of crime and more jail time. Heintz says the re-entry program has showed incredible growth and success. "Because they're in such a positive environment getting such good help to re-establish their life then they got a new ray of light in the future."

      A majority of graduates are now productive in society. Heintz says, "The prison system is so crowded and they need places to send people that will have a positive experience in their new life."

      Murphy is now moving forward through this positive experience. " I believe choices are everything. You start to learn to put yourself through society and work day to day an enjoy life again."

      State leaders have talked with Heintz about relocating and expanding The Foundry for the program, but he says many people don't want a re-entry program in their neighborhood.