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September 29, 2023
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Learning to Live: James' Story
Produced by: Dan Collison
"Learning to Live: James' Story" documents the journey of James Robinson, a 38 year old ex-offender, as he makes the transition from repeated prison sentences to life in the free world. After a 7-year prison term, James arrives at St. Leonard's halfway house for ex-offenders in Chicago. He tells the staff that he needs to "learn to live," knowing full well how hard it is to transition back to society on his own. "James' Story" chronicles James' hard work over the course of ensuing three months; job training, drug counseling and 12-step support meetings. During his stay at the halfway house, James also finds his "dream" job and reconnects with family members, including an eighteen-year-old son he hadn't seen since the child was four.

Program Credits

"Learning to Live:James' Story" was produced by Dan Collison with production assistance from Amanda Klonsky. Gary Covino was the editor. The story was first broadcast on Chicago Public Radio. We have this update: back in October, James Robinson married a woman he met at the customer service job he had just begun at the end of our program.


The Urban Institute
This website from the Urban Institute features research by scholars working in the field of prisoner reentry.

Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett
by: Jennifer Gonnerman 2005
Life on the Outside is the first major work of journalism on the subject of re-entry: the challenge of leaving prison and re-entering the free world. Selected as a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award.

Making Good: How EX-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives
by: Shadd Maruna, Hans Toch, Off Press 2000
This book examines sucessful reintegration stories of ex-convicts.

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Programs by Dan Collison

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