Posts Tagged ‘Community’
After leaving prison I didn’t have any problems socializing, because I am a people person. I don’t meet strangers and can function well in most given situations involving people. I had a solid team of eight to ten people who had agreed to be my transition team and help me during my adjustment. All of them had agreed to be a “phone call away,” and promised to help me with any challenges I that i was facing.
I immediately became involved in the activities and events that were close to my heart. I hosted a radio talk show, was a co-host for a tv talk show, assisted in developing town hall and community meetings, worked with organizations that were focused on helping people who had been incarcerated for long periods of time. I became involved in ministries and men’s groups (all of which helped me to develop a personal foundation in society), and a public speaking organization like Toastmasters International. As a motivational speaker I travelled the country, but i also became a board member of organizations like the Innocence Project of New Orleans, La. Coalition for Reform, the Freedom Project, the Teen Summit, the Prison Foundation, am a Senior Justice Fellow with the Soros Foundation, etc., etc. All of these things helped me in my transition. I lived an active life as a leader in prison and I knew that is what I needed to do in society.
There was, however, something that was a challenge for me. I noticed, when I was first released from prison, that I began to have feelings of apprehension when the sun would begin to set. There was a part of me that really didn’t want to be out after dark because I didn’t want to be anywhere where someone might falsely accuse me of anything. Those feelings remained with me for several months, but when I began to travel they begin to diminish.
In the midst of all of my activities stood my transition team of men and women who vowed to help me during my transition. They were true to their word, and were always merely a “phone call away.”
What are your thoughts about morality and religion as tools for corrections…
They work. I believe that what works depends on the pulse and needs of the people who spent their lives in any environment or community. A good warden is like a good mayor, coach, leader – he/she listens to the those who follow and finds places to use them according to their talents. I think that diversity works – offering something for everyone in a safe and secure way even in restrictive environments causes unbelievable creativity. Morality is important because everyone needs to feel good about themselves and their actions. When release into society stops being an option many find comfort in the ultimate release is upon death and most people in our neck of the woods find that hope in religion and morality. Redemption and forgiveness also are strong themes here and among those who have committed violent crimes like murder and rape.
Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Communities Worse is an informative book by criminal justice expert Todd Clear that details incarcerations’ impact on communities in the United States. This book is a comprehensive read for those interested in the sociological effect of prisons on our society. The book can be found on Amazon.com.
More spoken word from talented young people in Oakland.
Community-based supervision organizations can be very effective in reducing the use of detention and custodial placement for youth in the criminal justice system. A very impressive example of this work is the Center for Community Alternatives, serving New York City, Kings County, and Syracuse, NY.
The CCA accepts referrals at any stage in the juvenile/criminal justice process: bail, plea, sentence and disposition. They provide court advocacy for youth that includes the development of a client-specific plan as an alternative to detention. This plan is based on a review of the case and an investigation of the case using interviews with the youth, relevant family members and others.
When a young person enters the program, CCA works with them and with and their parents to stabilize their family life, to establish safe and appropriate housing, to arrange reentry to school and to ensure their health needs are being met.