AFTER SERVING nearly two decades behind bars for an armed robbery, Wayne Anderson became a free man early last year.
And with his newfound freedom came the hard part: reintegrating into society.
Anderson, 50, had completed only the 10th grade around the time he started a more-than-decade-long career of robbing jewelry shops and check-cashing stores to survive, he said.
He paid the price with 17 years in prison followed by a stint at a North Philly halfway house. But to employers, Anderson had two strikes against him: Not only was he a high-school dropout, he was an ex-offender.
"Being locked up is easy," said Bill Hart, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Reintegration Services for Ex-Offenders (RISE). "You either comply or not comply. You're housed, fed, medical taken care of. When you make the transition back to the world, we're talking about all of those barriers. You have to figure out, 'Where do I sleep, eat? How will I manage transportation?' "