Newark, NJ — Edwin “Chino” Ortiz and his brother, Carmelo “Melo” Ortiz know firsthand the challenges facing people who max out their prison sentences. The Ortiz brothers left the New Jersey prison system in 2016, each after serving 30 years. When Edwin was 19 and Carmelo was 20, they were convicted on charges related to the death of man during a robbery. Today, the Ortiz brothers work for Essex County Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., overseeing a unique re-entry pilot program for individuals who complete their prison sentences and enter the world without the support that comes with being on parole. The program is a partnership between YAP and the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) that connects individuals to the program up to 180 days before their release date.
YAP is a national nonprofit in 33 states and the District of Columbia that provides community-based services as an alternative to youth incarceration, congregate residential placements and neighborhood violence. Learn more about YAP at YAPInc.org and follow the organization on Twitter @YAPInc.