PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – President Obama and Pope Francis recently visited with inmates from a jail and a federal prison, focusing on the number of people incarcerated and how to reintroduce them into society upon their release.
Anthony Hoskins was once one of those inmates, but is now part of the solution helping others successfully transition from jail to leading a productive life.
"People smoke marijuana to be a gateway drug, mine was heroin," Hoskins said describing his drug use which began at age nine. By age 11 Hoskins was locked up in the county jail for breaking and entering.
"From there I started selling marijuana down in West Palm Beach right where Clematis is now," Hoskins recalled.
Hoskins was in and out of juvenile detention until he went to prison at age 16. He was released four years later.
"When I got out I started doing other things," Hoskins explained. "Started robbing, using a gun to get revenue."
Hoskins did more time. In 2012 he stood in a courtroom before a man he credits with turning his life around.
"He was the first judge that ever gave me a chance. He listened to me and he also heard me cry out to the system," says Hoskins.
His second chance came through the Transition from Jail to Community program at The Lord's Place . A program ironically located directly across the street from Hoskins childhood home.
"I told them I want to give back," Hoskins said remembering the start of his program. "Because I have took from society for so long in my life that I need to give back."
Hoskins completed the program, enrolled in peer counseling courses and is now a Peer Specialist at The Lord's Place, sharing his message of giving back to others coming out of jail or coming off the streets. A life change Hoskins finds intoxicating.
"When you help people and you 're explosive in helping them you're going to feel a natural high and that's what I get every day," says Hoskins. "I used drugs for a long time. I used drugs form the time I was nine all the way until I was 41 and I did not get a high as what I have now."
According to the Pew Research Center almost half of those who are released from jail re-offend. Through The Lord's Place Transition from Jail to Community program that number drops down to about 34 percent.