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Returning Citizens & Reentry

The United States Attorney's Office Commitment to Reentry

Every year over 700,000 individuals are released from our nation’s jails and prisons.  These men and women are returning daily to our towns and communities, and the number of them who return to a life of crime and additional prison time continues to rise.  As part of a nationwide effort by the Justice Department to achieve and preserve public safety by reducing recidivism rates, as well as promote the successful reintegration of returning prisoners into their families and our communities, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia is engaged in efforts both inside and outside prison walls to promote public safety by assisting these men and women in managing a successful reentry into society.

Current Reentry Initiatives

The U.S. Attorney’s Office recognizes the importance of educating our communities and helping those reentering society from incarceration. We offer support, education, assistance and guidance to those who want to succeed after prison. We also work with the community to encourage support by ways of housing, employment and transportation.

Reentry Simulation
Mock Job Fairs
Reentry Assistance Brochure

To learn more about our reentry efforts, contact:

Ashley Lough
Reentry Coordinator and Community Outreach Specialist sends e-mail)



"Always Think Before You Move" - Eugene Brown and the Strategic Paradigm

Life of a King movie cover

Former federal inmate Eugene Brown is the nationally recognized founder of the Big Chair Chess Club. The club empowers inner-city youth to escape the streets and learn that the most important lesson in life, as in chess, is to “Always Think Before You Move.” During National Reentry Week, Brown will launch chess initiatives at several federal correctional facilities in Northern West Virginia.

Brown’s story inspired the movie “Life of a King,” starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. His book, “From Pawns to Kings,” is forthcoming in 2016. His upcoming visit furthers an ongoing joint effort to utilize chess to enhance self-respect and strategic thinking among incarcerated individuals. 

Brown was an inmate for nearly one-third of his life. While serving eighteen years for bank robbery, and with the help of a fellow inmate serving a life sentence, Brown began to understand the parallels between chess and life. For over three decades, he has inspired others do the same.   

In September 2015, Brown visited several federal correctional facilities in Northern West Virginia to discuss his experiences, the challenges of reentry, and the importance of learning to “always make your next move your best move.” Brown is committed to ending the cycle of intergenerational incarceration. His most recent initiative is a Reentry/Character Development curriculum, entitled Strategic Paradigm, which uses the game of chess and the “Think Before You Move” model to teach problem solving, self-awareness, personal responsibility, conflict resolution, goal-setting, critical thinking, and other character-building exercises aimed at promoting success through positive decision-making.

The overwhelming response to Brown’s 2015 visit inspired federal correctional facilities throughout Northern West Virginia to develop chess initiatives using Brown’s concepts and format. During National Reentry Week, Brown will return to launch these initiatives, meet with volunteer inmate-mentors and workshop participants, play chess, and address larger groups of inmates and staff. He will also deliver keynote addresses at two community forums in Wheeling and Clarksburg. Further, he will introduce the Strategic Paradigm in at least one afterschool program, Laughlin Memorial Chapel, and possibly in one or more of the West Virginia Youth Services System (YSS) facilities.


Chef Jeff Henderson Serves Recipes and Insight

Chef Jeff

In 1997, Jeff Henderson was released from federal prison after serving nearly ten years for drug trafficking. Within a few short years of his release, Mr. Henderson became the first African-American Executive Chef at the Café Bellagio in Las Vegas and a New York Times best-selling author. His journey truly reflects the power of hard work and determination.

Growing up in California, Mr. Henderson was exposed to, and became involved in, illicit drug trafficking.  Before long, he was earning upward of $35,000 per week selling crack cocaine. The profits and lifestyle abruptly ended when he was sentenced to federal prison in 1989.

In prison, Mr. Henderson discovered his passion for cooking. He studied business and worked in the kitchens of several federal correctional facilities, first as a dishwasher and eventually as a cook. Despite this education and experience, it was nonetheless difficult for him to find work. After numerous rejections, he was hired at Ceasars Palace. His talent and perseverance quickly elevated his culinary career. Today, “Chef Jeff” is a popular Food Network personality with a passion for helping at-risk youth and other vulnerable populations.

In October, 2015, Chef Jeff visited FCI Gilmer. He spoke to the population at large about his experiences, including the challenges and setbacks he faced upon reentry, how he managed to overcome them, and the importance of setting tangible goals and working to achieve them.  He then toured the kitchen, interacting with the cooks and kitchen workers.  After lunch, he met with the entire kitchen staff and talked about many of the opportunities available for them to translate the specialized skills they are learning in prison kitchens to jobs in the outside world, and passed along helpful suggestions for pursuing, obtaining, and succeeding in such careers. 

Updated April 27, 2021

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