PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. (WTTV) – Under the jerseys, the numbers, the stripes, we are all human beings, be it a Pacers first round pick or a former college player now at Putnamville Correctional.
“I love to play basketball, but I made a few mistakes and slipped,” said Travion Qualls, an inmate.
Qualls faces six years for being an accessory to a robbery. He is expected to be released by the time he turns 27. On the outside the former Manchester University star has a wife, a mother, yet it’s moments like this when you get to be coached by the Indiana Pacers.
“We don’t realize the choices we make effect others around us makes me want to be better, gives me the drive to wake up every day.” said Qualls.
The Represent Justice program brings players and inmates together, not only for a basketball game between inmates, but meaningful discussions about the justice system, addressing racial disparities.
“Same crime I did someone else did and they got half the time that I did a white kid,” Qualls said
“They incarcerate more people than any other country in the world and they black people about 5 times as much as white people in this country,” said Pacers Point Guard Malcolm Brogdon.
The players want to listen, to be their voice for change.
“The people who are forgotten about, once you are away in the system there is no social media, there is no anything you’re almost wiped off the face of the earth,” said Pacers Center Myles Turner.
Yet one day, residents here may be out and looking for a new life.
“Gives me hope to see guys getting degrees,” said Brogdon.
This is where the Last Mile Program plays a key role.
“If I push myself to achieve I can accomplish what I want to achieve,” said Brandon Patterson, a 17-year inmate. April 2025, that’s the day he gets out.
“Its my personal ambition to get a degree in computer science,” said Patterson.
The Last Mile offers classes to inmates in modern jobs, such as web development and software engineering.
‘We’ve have people hired by zoom and drop box and square,” said Redlitz at Putnamville Correctional.
“If you got something you love to do stay focused, one slip up can land you in here,” said Qualls.