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For Those Exiting the Criminal Justice System, Housing Can Make All the Difference


By Natalie Moore

Johnny Washington can’t remember the last time he lived in his own apartment. He’s struggled with heroin addiction for nearly 50 years and he’s been in and out of prison over the last 15 years. Washington, 66, has been working in shipping at a candy factory since the beginning of the year. But the real stabilizing force in his life has been the apartment in suburban Chicago where he’s lived since July. It’s the best he’s felt in a long time. It took him awhile to get here. Two years ago Washington landed in the Cook County Drug Court Program. It’s a special court created for nonviolent offenders struggling with substance abuse. The focus is on treatment, not criminalization.

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