The US Penal system isn't really renowned for its ability to rehabilitate the incarcerated. Make them career criminals? Sure. Expose them to unspeakable horrors and violence? Absolutely. But rehabilitate them and make them contributing members of society? Not so much.
But just because some legislature has seemingly given up on giving convicts a second chance at life, that doesn't mean that society does.
Which is why Edwins, a French restaurant located in Cleveland, Ohio, has decided to give former criminals a second chance at life.
Edwins employs a 6-month rotation that allows former criminals the chance to learn valuable on-the-job skills.
Over 200 students have come through Edwins doors and by the time they finished the 6-month program, they leave the restaurant with a strong foundation in food prep, wine education, and how to handle dinner services.
Edwin's owner, Brandon Chrostowski says this he was inspired to start the program while reflecting on his days as a wild and troubled youth.
"I was a reckless teenager, and one night, I was arrested and thrown in jail. Fortunately, I had a judge who gave me a break instead of 10 years in prison. While I was on probation, I met a chef who mentored me -and once I was in that kitchen, I knew that's where I belonged for the rest of my life."
What's truly remarkable is that 90% of Edwin's grads have attained permanent employment after training under his program.
Edwin's trainees receive 40-50 hours of experience a week. In addition to daily lectures and partaking in nightly food services, the trainees are also paid for their services and are given money from a pool of donations left by diners instead of tips.
And what's even better is that out of the 200+ former criminals who've passed through Edwin's program, not a single one has re-offended.
Chrostowski's life-changing program earned him a 2016 CNN Heroes award and he's shown no signs of improving his already awesome program.
After discovering that many of his trainees didn't have access to reliable housing, Chrostowski is looking into building a dormitory.
In a feature with Cleveland.com, the restaurateur detailed that he not only hopes to build dorms and provide culinary training for ex-cons, but to also help them with transportation and do whatever possible to help them get back on their feet.
"Edwins is a family. There's a spirit in here where we're in this together. To have a second chance is to have a new life," Chrostowski said.
With the great success that Edwins restaurant has been able to achieve with its program, it's easy to see that Chrostowski not only says feel good stuff, but he backs it up.