Program aims to get incarcerated vets back on their feet

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Inside the walls of a prison there are burglars, carjackers, those convicted of assault, and several other kinds of criminals -- including men and women who have served in the military. A program in Milwaukee is working to set these veterans up for success and keep them from ever returning to prison.

Marquis Lathan was 26 when he joined the Marines and though he had a history of criminal behavior going in, the worst of it happened after he left the Corps. In 2010 he was sent to Wisconsin State Prison for two years.

"I served four years in the Marine Corps, back from '97 to 2001 I was given credit. Came home in 2001, had some issues, went through a divorce.  Kind of a hard time after leaving the military," said Lathan. "Just a lot of drinking I was doing and I got into a big fight and somebody ended up getting injured during that process and I was charged with substantial battery."

Lathan says it was the low point of his life, but also the turning point thanks to the Incarcerated Veterans Program through the Center for Veterans Issues.

"Due to the high incarceration rate of our veterans, we need to have something in reach of some sort in these institutions to help them know that there's an opportunity for a second chance," said Justin Roloff with the Center for Veterans Issues.

The program works with these veterans to develop an action plan for when they are released. Roloff also sets up job training and meetings with employees while helping to overcome any employment obstacles.

Roloff says even though it's not Lathan's first time behind bars, he believes success is in his future.

"There's growth, there's more consistency, more follow through on his end. While he may stumble here and there, he picks himself up right away," Roloff said.

Lathan has since been released and is working with CVI to land a job.

"That's a good feeling coming out of this situation to know there's some help out there, waiting on us," Lathan said.