BISMARCK, N.D. - A new statewide program is helping to keep people out of the cold and out of jail.
A number of these people have experienced the criminal justice system in one way or another, now they're being trained to mentor others that have finished serving their sentences.
"We really want to see people where they're at, and see them eye to eye and be able to help them through all of their struggles," said Kristy Johnson, F5 housing coordinator.
Free Through Recovery works with groups and services that already help inmates after they're released, like the F5 Project, which helps those with felonies like Ben Stechmann.
"After I got out of jail I didn't have a place to live at that time. They provided me housing, then with working with the project and being able to give back to other people, just gave me a new lease on life," said Stechmann.
Hundreds of people will be helped by the program this year, but they have a ways to grow before they can meet the demand.
"This is a program that isn't about building beds, it's not about having individuals that go somewhere. It's about providing srevices in the community where you already have natural supports, family, friends, your job," said Pamela Sagness, Human Services Director of Human Health.
The goal of the program is to help prevent future crimes and reduce how much we spend on prisons.
For more information you can go to their website at: https://behavioralhealth.dhs.nd.gov/addiction/free-through-recovery