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Former Juvenile Lifers Get Fresh Start With Re-Entry Workforce Program

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --  They were known as "juvenile lifers" -- teens once sentenced to mandatory life without parole, but on Monday they were given a fresh start. This special program helps these teen, along with other ex-offenders, find a second chance at life.

"So today is a good day. It's a fantastic day," said Paulette Carrington the first woman "juvenile lifer" in Pennsylvania to be released from prison.

On Monday, 29 formerly incarcerated individuals graduated from the Uplift Workforce Solutions program and will start a job at Brown's ShopRite.

Carrington is one of three former juvenile lifers; she comes after serving 40 years of a mandatory life without parole sentence.

"Kept saying to me, Paulette one day you're going to be free," she said.

Carrington was 16-years-old when she stabbed her father's girlfriend's 15-year-son. She's had abused and blacked out when the stabbing occurred, and it took some time for her to even comprehend what she had done.

"For like a month or two months I was oblivious to what was going on," she said." I knew I did something, I knew I was arrested, but I was in shock."

Now, four decades on the inside changed her, she lost her own son to violence while she was locked away.

"I really didn't understand the depths of that mother's pain until then," she said.

Carrington walked out of prison a free woman back in April of this year, and spent six weeks at Uplift Workforce Solutions - a partnership between Enon Tabernacle Church and ShopRite.

"The first four weeks is to really look at themselves, why they do what they do and get past it and then we teach them the job," said Atif Bostic who runs the program.

This program guarantees a job to all of the graduates, and about 40 percent of the participants get promoted in six weeks.

For folks like Courney Boyd, a juvenile lifer who served 36-years, the challenge is technology, but he says he's up for it.

"I was up for overcoming a life sentence without the possibility of parole, so I'm up for anything," Boyd said.

But for Carrington and the others this program is a new life.

"I'm going to be a cashier, but hopefully I'm going to work in bakery because I'm planning to take culinary classes," she said.

It's a first day, and beginning to a new life.

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