It was a day of celebration, inspiration and empowerment at The Potter’s House Sunday, March 18. The 2013 graduating class of ex-offenders, from the Bishop T.D. Jakes-founded Texas Offenders Re-entry Initiative (T.O.R.I.), enjoyed a special commencement ceremony.

The year-long program is designed to help former inmates transition to life outside the penal system, increase their chances for success, and reduce the likelihood that they will return to prison.

For this special event, Baltimore native, Charles Dutton, was tapped as the keynote speaker.

Best known for his starring role in the 90s sitcom, “ROC,” Dutton is a celebrated director and producer of films. Most notably, he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for the HBO miniseries “The Corner.”

But Dutton’s great successes were preceded by personal failures that led him into the penal system.

In August 1967, after getting into a fight that escalated into a knife battle, the altercation ended with Dutton stabbing a man to death.He was sentenced to 5 years, which was reduced to 2. After serving his time, Dutton returned home only to get back with his old friends and find himself in trouble with the law once again.

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