Wichita man helps hundreds of parolees after being in prison himself


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Life after prison. Former inmates say it’s not easy.

They often rely on their parole advocates to help them transition. One Wichita man has helped hundreds of people after being behind bars himself.

John Agnew says often doing the time, is easier than the challenges once out of prison. He hopes by sharing his experiences with former inmates, he can help even more people break down barriers.

John has met many people in this room including Joshua Bodner earlier Wednesday. Most share the same concerns.

“Oh, nervous it’s fearful I mean just getting re-acquainted with everything,” said Joshua Bodner, Wichita.

Joshua was released from prison just five days ago and wants to re-build his life after doing time. He says speakers like John make him and others believe change is possible.

“He’s been through what we’ve been through, he’s done, he’s not going to look down upon or anything else like that because he’s been there, he’s seen it, he knows the struggle, he knows what comes next,” said Bodner.

“Somebody’s gotta take my place, one of you guys gotta take my place,” said John Agnew, Certified Recovery Coach.

It’s been sometime since John’s prison days

“I got caught a couple times with drugs and first time I was on probation, and second time they said you going to prison,” said Agnew.

And today – he enjoys being on the outside and coaching others to see their potential.

“Those that want to change their lives, I go to bat for them,” said Agnew.

Leaders within the Kansas Department of Corrections also notice John’s impact on those recently released.

“I mean they talk about calling him. He’s been in my doorway and he’ll get a phone call, it’s rare that he doesn’t have a phone call,” said Sally Frey, Southern Parole Region Director

John says his work empowers him to continue on his path and celebrate the success stories. Joshua hopes, he can be a new one.

“Work in a program, stay clean, going to meetings and just being a service to other addicts,” said Bodner.

This is Joshua’s first year of supervised parole and if during his first six months he is violation free, he will be off.

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