Nearly half of inmates released from Texas prisons will end up back behind bars, but the Texas Department of Criminal Justice does have programs in place to battle that trend. NewsChannel 11 found one former prisoner who is enjoying success thanks to one of those programs.
Her name is Dimples Walker and after doing time for manslaughter and two parole violations, Dimples is a success story. Thanks to support she received from prisoner reintegration programs, Dimples now considers herself reformed and has more than one steady job.
"I think I really hit my bottom when I knew I could not live this life by myself and so I just totally surrendered to God and from that day on, God began to do some things in my life that I couldn't imagine."
Just five years ago Dimples was passing time behind bars for a parole violation after being convicted of manslaughter. Back in 1979, she says she took the life of an abusive boyfriend in self-defense. An action fueled by impulse and a drinking problem. "I couldn't visualize myself doing anything but living a party life.. drinking. Going to sleep drinking and waking up drinking," she said.
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Now, the Dimples Walker of 1979 is no more. She's working in customer service by day and preaching the gospel by night. "Sometimes I get to thinking about what the Lord has done for me and what he's still doing for me, and I can't help but be overwhelmed."
One thing the Lord did for Dimples was bring Connie Rowe into her life. Connie works for Project R.I.O., a program designed to provide offenders with resources needed to get jobs and lead successful lives upon release. "I gave her the hope and spirit to succeed in life and explain to her she can change," says Connie. "You have a prisoner coming out of prison who wants to re-establish their life, but really does not have the means and it seems like they're in a no win situation and Project RIO really extended a hand to me," said Dimples.
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First Progressive Church in Lubbock followed Project R.I.O.'s suit. An extended family of sorts, the church has helped Dimples and other ex-prisoners grow spiritually. Dimples' ministry is something near and dear to her heart. "Being in a hopeless situation myself at one time in my life, I know the devastation and how one feels in that situation. I would just like to encourage those who are going thorough difficult times not to give up. To seek out people who are truly into God."
Dimples believes a success story similar to her own can belong to any ex-prisoner. She says she feels blessed every day and God never ceases to amaze her. She extends her gratitude to Project R.I.O., especially Connie Rowe and Gwen Titus who are not only her case managers, but her friends.