Posted on: February 19, 2022, 11:46 a.m.
Last update: February 20, 2022, 12:03 p.m.
A Las Vegas nonprofit that helps people get out of prison announced Friday that it will name its new facility after Billy Walters.
Walters, the legendary sports bettor, and his wife Susan have made a “substantial gift” to HOPE for Prisoners, according to a statement from the organization. This contribution will help fund the Billy Walters Center for Second Chances, which is scheduled to open in April.
HOPE for Prisoners works with incarcerated people and provides them with the support and services they need as they move on to the next phase of their lives. The new facility will provide services such as job and life skills training, employment and education opportunities, and counselling.
Public agencies such as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and private sector groups such as The Vegas Chamber provide support to the organization, which operates an 18-month reintegration program. The last graduation ceremony took place on Friday.
Jon Ponder, president and CEO of HOPE, said Walters’ donation will help transform hundreds of lives in the area.
“His passion for impacting other members of our community involved in justice is commendable and we couldn’t be more grateful that he has chosen to support the mission of HOPE for Prisoners,” Ponder said in a statement.
About Billy Walters
After making a name for himself in Las Vegas as a prolific sports bettor starting in the 1980s, Billy Walters was convicted of insider trading by a federal jury in April 2017 and sentenced to five years in prison. In the spring of 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was transferred to house arrest because his age and the fact that he had served more than half of his sentence made him eligible for an established program. in the CARES Act.
President Trump then commuted his sentence just before he left office in January 2021, slashing the time he was supposed to serve by nearly a year.
Walters has long disputed the federal case against him and had accused federal officials of leaking grand jury information to the media. A lawyer representing Walters in a civil case against the former US lawyer and FBI investigator who led the case against him says the famous player sued because he believed others had had their rights violated in the same way, but lacked the resources to pursue their case.
A federal judge, however, dismissed that case last September, citing that the three-year statute of limitations had expired.
“The system is down”
In a statement, Walters said her experience made her realize how essential programs like HOPE for Prisoners are in communities.
I can tell you firsthand that the prison system is broken and without programs like this, newly released inmates don’t stand a chance,” he said.
More than 450 people graduate from the Las Vegas program each year, but Walters said more needs to be done.
“There are 2 million people in jails and jails across the country, an increase of 500% over the past 40 years,” he added. he said. “I hope with this new facility, more people and organizations will see the success of this program and emulate it across the country.”
The donation to HOPE for Prisoners is just Walters’ latest contribution. Last August, he donated $1 million to cover the cost of renaming McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas in honor of Harry Reid. The name change officially took place in mid-December, just two weeks before the former Democratic leader of the US Senate passed away.