SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU)– 34-year-old James White, a recovering addict and felon, has been in and out of prison for the past two years. However, about nine months ago he was told some life changing news that inspired him to better himself.
“I went to prison in 2021 for burglary [in the third degree], possession [in the second degree], and failure to appear on a felony charge,” White said.
James White was released after 11 months behind bars and spent another seven on parole. However, he was once again sentenced to another six months for similar charges.
Before White went back to prison for the second time, he received some news that would change his life.
“Finding out that my girlfriend was pregnant when I was going into prison, that was a big head changer right there, and just knowing that I needed to change my life for that,” he said. “I didn’t want to be that guy going in and out of prison with a kid.”
With a kid on the way, White got to work looking for a job and a place to stay once he finished serving his time.
“I knew right from the get-go getting out, there were staffing agencies available and they work good, they provide you transportation,” White said. “But trying to get a job directly from an employer was a lot harder. Especially not having my own transportation and not really knowing who was available to hire felons.”
White was released in July 2023 and stayed with Carl Jacob, a previous felon and recovered addict, at Jacob’s house for roughly four months with several other people.
“When you first come out of prison,” Jacob said, “a lot of places won’t rent to you. They just won’t if you’re a felon or have a history.”
Jacob has been helping folks for the past 6 years, not only making sure they have a warm place to stay, but helping better themselves.
“A lot of times I’ll sit back and watch somebody do dishes when they first come in,” he said, “and you’d be amazed how many men will come in here, turn the water on, and run their fingers over a fork or a spoon and put it up wet. So it’s just basically teaching basic living skills, and that’s mainly what I try and do.”
“At his house,” White said, “he tries to make everybody a unity to do group functions, and it’s a safe clean environment, it keeps you from wanting to go back to where you came from, and for a lot of felons, that’s a world that a lot of us are trying to escape from.”
White is currently working a full-time job and living in his own apartment with his girlfriend. He says thanks to his parole officer and Iowa Workforce Development, and that he wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without them.
“It’s a little more easier on life to know that there’s resources out there as long as you go and look for them,” White said. “It can be hard to get a job even not being a felon, I mean you just got to go out and get it, but to see all these resources now is so much better. It takes a burden off.”
White said him and his girlfriend are expecting their daughter any day now, and that he’s excited to start the next chapter of his life.