Inspirational speaker arrested on drug charges one day after speaking to Hattiesburg students

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A former prison inmate is back in jail fewer than 24 hours after he gave a speech to students at an alternative school about his road to redemption.

Thursday, students at Mary Bethune Alternative School in Hattiesburg listened to stories from several men who had spent years in federal prison. One of those men was Ernest Dent who talked about how he had recently graduated from a re-entry program led by Judge Keith Starrett.

Dent was arrested the next day and charged with possession of 624 grams, or about 1.4 pounds, of marijuana, and 48 grams of methamphetamine.

During his speech to students, Dent said, "If you want to just keep showing up and acting out, they've got a place for you.  We need more men in the neighborhoods to step up and do their part. A life of crime and lead but one of two places: that's the jailhouse, or the graveyard."

Veronica Jordan, a resource teacher at Mary Bethune, said she was disappointed, "He sounded as if he was on the right path, and he had goals and objectives that he wanted to meet, and he had the support team to make those goals. He just made a poor choice."

Dent is being held without bond at the Forrest County Jail.

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