Ex-offender paying it forward to women who've been in prison
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The goal is to reduce the rate of recidivism in Duval County and help women who transition back into society.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nadieal Ash was in prison for 25 years. 

She went in at the young age of 17 and spent the rest of her teens, all of her twenties and thirties behind bars. 

At 43 and a year out, she’s paying it forward by helping women adjust back to society. 

Nowadays, Ash serves as the manager of the transition house for R.E.S.T.O.R.E. a non-profit organization that is dedicated to reducing the rate of recidivism in Duval County. Women who are ex-offenders will spend up to 18 months utilizing mental health resources, re-learning social skills and taking money management classes. 

“When you get out of prison, you already got one strike against you,” Ash said. “I’ve never given up hope when I was incarcerated.” 

The transition house in Jacksonville’s Westside serves a home for women who need another chance. Ash describes her home as a “second chance stepping stone.” 

“Right here, right now is where you start your new life,” Ash added. 

She also shared how the journey to having a new life after incarceration is not easy. The ex-offender said she’s seen people slip back into the system. To Ash, anyone who has been to prison is a special-kind of person. 

“To have to handle and deal with everything that goes on behind those gates, it’s challenging,” Ash said. 

However, with the right support system, Ash said prison saved her life. 

Now that she’s out, she hopes to be a mentor to young people. R.E.S.T.O.R.E. is expected to build another transition house for women.

RELATED: Operation New Hope founder is retiring after 23 years helping Jacksonville-area ex-offenders rebuild lives

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