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'Striving to change a culture' | Program offers job training, mental health resources for NC inmates

Tic Toc Innovations said its focus is improving communications from outside of jail to the inside and better preparing inmates once they're released.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina man is doing his part to help offer second chance opportunities for those behind bars through job training and mental health services.

Tic Toc Innovations, LLC is an idea founder Dewayne Lester, Jr. said he first started thinking about while his brother was in and out of jail. The acronym stands for The Inside Connection, The Outside Connection. He said he wanted to find better ways to communicate between inmates and their loved ones.

"It started out as letters and then came the app," Lester said. “You’d be able to type in the app and we could print the letter off or if they have the technology try to partner with the correctional facility.”

Once the inmate is released, then vocational training is offered such as skills in maintenance, carpentry, painting and more. So far throughout Charlotte more than a dozen companies have partnered with Tic Toc to help employ those formerly incarcerated.

“Striving to change a culture, a culture of thinking simply by offering a second chance," Lester said.

But the most important aspect of Tic Toc Innovations is the mental health services provided to inmates -- a partnership with CMPD is one of the first.

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“They will be able to be treated in a way that stabilizes them to have some peace, peace of mind knowing who they are and knowing what they want.”

The goal is to eventually expand Tic Toc Innovations to other correctional agencies all across North Carolina.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.