April 22, 2024

Reentry Resource Fair aims to help formerly incarcerated people return to society

Keidrain Brewster, 40, speaks to inmates about his prison and reentry experience. He will give a keynote speech at a reentry resource fair in Indianapolis on April 24, 2024. - Photo provided by Keidrain Brewster

Keidrain Brewster, 40, speaks to inmates about his prison and reentry experience. He will give a keynote speech at a reentry resource fair in Indianapolis on April 24, 2024.

Photo provided by Keidrain Brewster

Keidrain Brewster was 17 when he went to prison. After spending 13 years at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, his life changed drastically.

He returned home with no family in 2014 – his 16-year-old brother was killed and his mother died from a drug overdose while he was incarcerated.

“It was a very unfortunate situation, but I also say it was those things that attributed to my transformation and my rehabilitation,” he said.

Not having family support, it took over three years for Brewster to adjust to the changes.

Now, the 40-year-old owns his own trucking company, is a published author and travels the country advocating for reentry assistance. He's coming to Indianapolis to give a keynote speech about his experience at a reentry resource fair at Martin University.

“I’ve committed crimes,” he said. “I’ve actually been in the streets. I come from it and I actually understand the disease of it. It’s going to take individuals, such as myself, who has lived experience, who really come from it to really get into the veins of it.”

The event on Wednesday will provide reentry resources to formerly incarcerated people in the city, including legal, insurance, transportation, financial, housing and voter registration services. It is hosted by several local organizations – including Fathers and Families Center, RecycleForce, Trusted Mentors and the city’s Office of Public Health –  to help newly released prisoners find community support services.

“So many organizations across Indianapolis recognize the need for advocacy and reform, particularly for our returning citizens and have come together in support of this important event,” Costeena Wethersby, executive director of Trusted Mentors, said in a press release.

A significant hurdle Brewster had to overcome when integrating back into society was navigating new and updated technology.

“I had never dealt with social media,” he said. “All these things were new to me. Having to learn, I can do online banking. Knowing how to download apps, all that was new to me.”

Brewster said he also had to learn better communication skills, coping mechanisms and societal norms. He touted the coalition of organizations hosting the event for aiding formerly incarcerated people through their reentry.

“It speaks volumes about the commitment they have in trying to better their community,” he said.

Brewster hopes his speech will highlight that formerly incarcerated people can successfully return to society if given a second chance.

“Allow me to show you how a kid who grew up gangbanging and robbing, has now become an individual that’s the face of reform.”

The free event begins at 11 a.m., April 24 at Martin University, 2186 N Sherman Drive.

 

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