By Ryan Coverdell
A respected police officer-turned-prisoner finds redemption helping other inmates re-enter society.
In Nevada, when a felon is released from prison, he’s given about $30 and the items and clothes he had when he was incarcerated. Transitioning back into society with so few resources can be tough.
The Ridge House in Reno is a transitional living facility for felons, offering six different homes for approximately 40 people. One of those homes is specifically for veterans.
These transitional homes work with Veterans Affairs to ensure the clients have all the necessary resources to live a successful life.
Dan Lisoni is a veteran and former criminal investigator who found himself on the other side of the law when he was arrested and jailed for a series of petty crimes.
He says his life took a turn when he became dependent on pain killers to deal with an injury on the job. Lisoni says he was already an alcoholic and it didn’t take much to fall deeper into trouble. He spent almost one year in prison and upon his release, he moved to the Ridge House.
That experience inspired him to get a job at the facility once he was released to help other felons transition into society.
He likens his job to a parent taking care of children, because he has to ensure his clients are fed, attend appointments on time, and have all the skills necessary to succeed in life.
Lisoni says these transitional houses have come a long way since the halfway house of the past.
And it’s evident in the numbers. Ridge House has seen a 25% recidivism rate within three years, far outperforming the nation’s average of 75%.
The transitional housing program helps keep clients by outfitting them with the proper attire for a job interview as well as how to write cover letters and resumes.
According to the Ridge House, they only spend $4,000 per client versus the State of Nevada, which spends upward of $20,000 to house a felon.
Lisoni says it’s easy to throw people in jail and throw away the key. It’s more challenging and rewarding when you help them succeed instead.