Tag Archives: Fairshake

Help Returning Citizens


Question from a Concerned Citizen on Quora.com

[Modified Answer for Blog Post]

How can we support people just released from prison so they can get on track to a productive life instead of going back to crime?

https://www.quora.com/How-can-we-support-people-just-released-from-prison-so-they-can-get-on-track-to-a-productive-life-instead-of-going-back-to-crime/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

Great question! I feel it’s important for those who are released to know help is available. Websites such as Fair Shake | Reentry Resource Center and other reentry based websites have collected available resources (including companies who hire ex-offenders/returning citizens), organized by state, if applicable, to help provide hope for success, and to help returning citizens know help is available.  That means a lot, so, I feel it is important to support those types of services, and to then direct returning citizens to them and to any of the organizations mentioned in those sites that supplies suggestions for successful reintegration.

Family and friends may also visit those sites to learn more about what the returning citizen faces upon release. Researching for the returning citizen helps, and during the process, the family members and friends may learn ways to help supply support to returning citizens.

As I state in many of my answers, there are many variables concerning prison life and the thousands of individuals held within the walls of confinement, who are then released back into society—with society sometimes being a foreign environment—because of all the changes that occurred since the departure of the returning citizen.

All released prisoners do not have the same history (amount of time served and under what conditions, which means a lot in considering release-needs; the nature of their offense(s); substance abuse and or mental health issues; what all was lost during the period of incarceration; educational and vocational backgrounds, which may help determine employability; available resources from family and friends. etc.).

The answers to those factors help determine what others may do to help that person successfully reintegrate.

PERSONALLY:  For me, it was important knowing I had the support of my family and friends, emotional support as well as any financial-support I needed, within reason. Having loved ones who provided me with clothing, any needed funds, a place to live, and a cellphone and computer helped more than the words flying from these keys can accurately represent. 

I have been blessed and am fortunate to have walked out of prison, thirty-years and ten-days later, to still have family and friends who were still around and still loved and cared for me.  Most returning citizens are not so fortunate and need help finding a job to support themselves, if able to work; if not, may need help finding where to apply for any available aid, and help in applying for that aid. 

Forms and processes for obtaining available services can be aggravating and overwhelming to returning citizens without experience in technology. 

Transitioning isn’t easy after decades away.  Seeing the differences in prices have made me say on many occasions that, “They better be glad I changed my ways.”  I felt like I was being robbed and would have wanted to rob-back, had I not changed.

Because of the many difficulties I have faced as an elderly-returning citizen, if I had not focused on changing my life during the last twenty-three of the thirty-years I served, I’d likely have already returned to prison.  Because truthfully speaking, for many of us who have spent most of our lives inside the insane world of incarceration; in many respects, it is easier to survive life inside prison than on the outside. 

On the outside, I have to be more responsible (paying bills, getting insurance, dealing with health-services; (under normal circumstances, finding a place to live), finding transportation and paying for expenses), having to make more decisions (such as what to eat and where to get it), and to learn a whole new way of life.  Thus, comes the term often applied to the long-term aspect of prison life: “institutionalization.”  I am not!

I’m up for the challenge and will succeed, regardless of any factors I am faced with during my transition from walking out of the Dark Ages into the Modern World. [End Quora Post]

A New Chapter of Life Began When I Walked Out the Prison Doors

Excerpt from Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism (July 21, 2016)

https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/07/21/reentry-programs-will-reduce-recidivism/

https://www.fairshake.net/

FAIRSHAKE REENTRY RESOURCE CENTER: One valuable Reentry Service that is doing its part to promote change by assisting ex-offenders, is the FairShake, Reentry Resource Center. Ms. Sue Kastensen, Founder and Director, created FairShake.net (www.fairshake.net), from her personal resources and commitment to make a difference. She deserves an award!

FairShake. net needs donations to continue to provide a place where people may go to find important information and links to organizations to facilitate the successful reentry of the formerly incarcerated.

Many of those released are like aliens entering a distant world, after having spent decades of their lives confined in cages: Those men and women need all available help to successfully reintegrate into society.

FairShake offers resource information for all to use for successful reentry.

The FairShake Reentry Packet contains useful information to improve the quality of life. Whether just beginning or near completion of his or her sentence, it is a publication worth reading for anyone interested in improving their mind, body and spirit.

Family and friends of the incarcerated may go to http://www.fairshake.net to download and print a free copy of the Reentry Packet to mail into a prison or jail for a loved one or friend. [Check prison or detention center mailroom policies before printing to mail.]

[I regret writing that the following is no longer possible due to a lack of donations to cover the $8.00 per-packet-cost, and because of new regulations in many prison mailrooms that prohibit certain types of paper due to the influx of K-2 (Spice) and Suboxone.]

The electronic Fairshake Newsletter is still available. Those incarcerated may write or email to request a free copy–include your name, Id. No. and address. Send request to this address:

Fair Shake
P.O. Box 63
Westby, WI 54667
If you have Corrlinks, email outreach@fairshake.net.

UNIQUE WEBSITE: Their unique website offers valuable tools to assist members in their transition from the insane world of incarceration into the free society.

The website contains free web pages for members (membership is free to all formerly incarcerated individuals). The website contains five categories of important data:

  • Reentry Resources (State and Local Reentry Guides);
  • Employment Support;
  • Building Computer Skills;
  • Educate Yourself; and
  • Finding Specific Pages.

The Reentry Packet illustrates how to navigate their system. Below a photo, under “Fair Shake Reentry Tool Kit,” is a list of options, including Resource Directory, Reentry Packet, Ownership Manual, Building Computer Skills, Preparing for Work, and Become a Member.

Visit http://www.fairshake.net to become part of the solution for reducing recidivism and changing lives: Save lives and taxpayer dollars!

Also available to Returning Citizens for locating valuable resources are these websites:

HelpForFelons.org. https://helpforfelons.org/reentry-programs-ex-offenders-state/

RZero.org to research a variety of data: http://rzero.org/resource-database-2

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WAR and REENTRY

guard stand barbed wire fenceby Wayne T. Dowdy

[Updated with note in text body on March 1, 2019]

GENERAL SURRENDERS: Mark S. Inch, former two-star, retired-general, surrendered his post as BOP Director on May 18, 2018. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Hugh J. Hurwitz as acting BOP Director. Mr. Hurwitz was the Deputy Director of Reentry Services.

Several sources reported Mark Inch resigned because of conflicts with AG Sessions micromanaging his actions, not allowing him to hire staff, and Jared Kushner’s desires for prison reform initiatives.

AG Sessions opposes any actions that benefit prisoners, even those to be enacted to protect society from recidivist. He opposes the FIRST STEP ACT that passed the House by a vote of 360 to 59, introduced by the Honorable Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

FIRST STEP ACT (H.R. 5682): Those 360 votes by congressional representatives represent the “Will of the People.”

The Will of the People shouted in the House of Representatives, but that may not be good enough for Senators driven by personal agendas and the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that ALWAYS interferes with any bill or policy introduced to reduce prison populations. *

The First Step Act contains provisions that allows federal prisoners to earn additional time off their sentences for taking “Evidence-Based Programs” that reduces recidivism, and thus save taxpayer dollars and spare American citizens of the negative effects of recidivists who fail to reintegrate into society.

IMPORTANT FACT: The bill “clarifies” that federal prisoners earn 54-days per year, not the 47-days the BOP provides because of their interpretation of Title 18, Section 3624(b). Those additional 7-days may not seem like much, but I’ll show it mean a lot.

I sent MR. Inch a letter on 11/20/17 to show how to save money. He didn’t respond. On 03/05/18, I re-submitted it and my BP-10, and then sent Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) a copy of all I sent Mr. Inch.

I’ve readjusted figures to represent the 2017 average cost of incarceration ($99.45 per day/$36,299.25). An average of 44,000 federal prisoners get released each year.

Those 7-days equate to an annual savings of $30,630,600.00 (7 X $99.45 = $696.15 X 44,000).

Those 7-days put me on the streets 240-days earlier (08/07/18), without going to an RRC, so I have a vested interest in the issue.

* Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on ALEC and their influence, whose members I suspect include AG Sessions, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), neither of whom favors prison or sentencing reform.

I agree with Attorney Brandon Sample that the FIRST STEP Act is not perfect because it prohibits too many prisoners from receiving its benefits, but the bill does contain 3-important provisions for all federal prisoners:

  1. The retroactive Good Time fix;
  2. Requiring the BOP to keep prisoners within 500 driving miles of their family members;
  3. Allowing compassionate release motions made by prisoners, DIRECTLY with the court, after exhausting administrative remedies. Brandon Sample Newsletter (email: news@brandonsample.com); read his blog at https://sentencing.net.

SENTENCING REFORM AND CORRECTIONS ACT (S.1917): “Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also wants any [Prison Reform] type bill to include sentencing reform.  Grassley and [Richard] Durbin [D-Ill.] are joint sponsors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, S.1917, that retroactively reduces mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug and gun offenses.  SCRA was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.” Legal Information Legal Services Associates, http://www.lisa-legalinfo.com (email: newsletter@lisa-legalinfo.com).

Some legislatures want sentencing reform added to the FIRST STEP ACT. Some analysts say that adding the SCRA would likely be the death of the bill.

The sponsors re-titled the initial prison reform bill to become the FIRST STEP for good reason: it is a First Step for change.

Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, lets such bills die instead of sending them to the floor for a vote. I’m sure he’s an ALEC member.

If he does not send the First Step act to the floor, let the voters remove him from his seat for ignoring the Will of the People!

EX-BOP DIRECTOR TESTIFIED BEFORE CONGRESS: Mark Inch prepared his statement for those in attendance at the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, dated March 16, 2018, presented April 17, 2018.

In his statement, he played with recidivism numbers to present the BOP as complying with its mission of protecting the public. According to Mr. Inch, federal inmates recidivate at about “half” the rate of state prisoners (“[o]ur three-year recidivism rate is nearly half the States’ average. 1”). https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Inch-testimony.pdf

[The following statement clarrified and corrected in blog post HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, CORRECTIONS & REENTRY https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/happy-mothers-day-corrections-reentry/ ]

Not so!  34.1% is not almost half; it’s almost one third.  Maybe math is not his strong suit, or maybe he misrepresented the truth to make the BOP appear better than it is at reducing recidivism. (See below:  STATISTICAL JUGGLING OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES.)

In footnote #1, Inch stated, “In 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that only 34% of the inmates released from the Bureau of Prisons in 2005 were re-arrested or had their supervision revoked over a three-year period.”

I read the 2016 Study and suspect Inch got his data from Table 2, “Rearrest Rates for Recidivism Study Offenders.” That table shows 33.7% of federal prisoners return with a new commitment to pay for their transgressions (that’s almost 34%).

What Inch did not reveal, was that the 2016 Study covered 8-years and showed a 49.3% recidivism rate on page #16 of the study on “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview.”

STATISTICAL JUGGLING OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES: The state study used for comparison was reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005.  Patterns from 2005 to 2010”). That State Study did show 67.8% of state prisoners recidivated within 3-years, compared to the 2016 Study for federal prisoners that showed 33.7% of federal prisoners recidivated during 3-years (a difference of 34.1%).

At 5-years, the numbers are 76.6% for state prisoners, compared to 42.1% of federal prisoners (a difference of 34.5%). Those numbers would not have helped him attempt to bamboozle the United States Congress, who battered him during the April 17th, 2018 Hearing.

Based upon one substantial fact, one cannot rely on the accuracy of comparison between the two studies, because the United States Sentencing Commission’s study DID NOT include “non-citizens,” such as illegal aliens known for running back across the border when deported (“The BJS study also included non-U.S. citizens, a category of offender excluded from the Commission’s study.”), fn. #40, U.S.S.C. 2016 Study.

Relying on the March 5, 2018, “U.S. Sentencing Commission’s, 2017 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics,” non-citizens accounted for about 41% of all offenders.

ADD that 41% of non-citizens into the 2016 Study, and the true federal recidivism results would show that the BOP didn’t do any better than states at reducing recidivism; maybe even worse than some, by failing to provide federal prisoners with adequate programs that reduced recidivism, contrary to former Director Mark Inch’s testimony before Congress.

MISLEADING STATEMENTS BY INCH ON RESIDENTIAL REENTRY CENTERS (RRC): In his statement cited above, subheading, “OUR GOAL – EFFECTIVE TRANSITION TO THE COMMUNITY,” Inch wrote, “Despite our continued efforts to seek RRC capacity in new locations and diversify services in existing locations, there remains strong community resistance to RRC’s and few vendors compete for such solicitations.”

Isn’t that the same man whose actions resulted in the non-use of at least 17-RRCs throughout the United States, who then reduced the average placement period to 120-days or less to better utilize resource?

120-days is far below the time allowed by Congress to reduce recidivism and to protect its citizens. Now some inmates get sent to RRC’s in different areas/states than their designated release area, due to his actions.

To justify not renewing contracts, Inch claimed the RRC’s he chose not to extend contracts on were underutilized. Why not keep the contracts to reduce the strain on other RRCs?

Facts prove Ex-Director Inch misrepresented the truth when he testified before Congress.

Read more on halfway house (RRC) issues in these blogs: “Life Inside” (11/20/17); “Half A Problem” (01/12/18), “Storms and a Valentine’s Day Wish” (02/12/18), and “March Madness” (03/20/18).

***** REENTRY SERVICES: Two reentry services provide valuable service to communities by helping to increase the chances of ex-offenders successfully reintegrating into the community: RZero.org and FairShake.net.

RZERO.ORG: RZero is a unique and helpful service for finding reentry associated information by the incarcerated; e.g., Jobs in area of release, finding addresses of businesses and organizations. I’ve found it to be very beneficial. The service has thus far been superb. The following message was sent as a suggestion for me to post in this blog:

“RZero.org (Recidivism Zero, Inc.) is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing recidivism through a series of practical, easy to implement, cost effective initiatives. We help bring resources from both the public and private sectors to the incarcerated population on both the state and federal level.

“Our entire organization is built on volunteerism and the idea that we can help others by ‘paying it forward’ to those around us. Everyone at RZero is a volunteer, including our Board of Directors.

“The reentry resource search service was developed because we saw a great need for it. Printed resource books contain stale information the moment they are printed. It is impossible and not very efficient to try to print these resources for every institution on the state and federal level. Our database contains over 10-million records of businesses, government agencies, offices and other organizations. It is important for a returning citizen to be able to successfully contact the resources they feel they need.”

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH NOTHING PERSONAL SEARCHES: To learn more about the RZero Project’s Search Service, I sought information for jobs in Atlanta, GA. For instance, I entered the following info in the body of the email, where only one line may be added. Nothing  goes in the subject line, except for maybe a polite thank you or brief message. Here’s examples of one-line search requests:

JOBS quality assurance inspector IN Atlanta, GA

JOBS quality control inspector IN Atlanta, GA

JOBS quality inspector IN Atlanta, GA

All three searches yielded different results. As in Internet searches, varying search criteria yields other information.

For Jobs of interest, I sent these:

FIND Delta Airlines IN Atlanta, GA

FIND Department of Transportation IN Atlanta, GA.

I received a prompt response and addresses so I can send my impressive re’sume’.  🙂

Users must capitalize the search command (JOBS, FIND, GET, HELP, and IN) or will receive an error message; I’ve gotten a few.

HELP is the best first message to send. RZero.org responds by sending instructions for using their reentry search engine.

More information may be obtained about RZero by visiting their website at http://www.RZero.org. Corrlinks friendly. Email: info@RZero.org.

FAIRSHAKE.NET: I cannot write about reentry services without mentioning FairShake.net, whose owner is dedicated to reentry initiatives and provides valuable services. I learned of RZero.org through her Corrlinks newsletter (outreach@fairshake.net).

Read “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (07/21/16) for more on FairShake.net (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com). Even better, visit http://www.fairshake.net. She needs volunteers to help with providing more services.

Be a warrior: Fight and reduce recidivism through effective reentry programs.

________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at http://www.straightfromthepen/blog and http://waynedowdy.weebly.com. Support his writings by purchasing his books. Visit his Smashwords Author’s Page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy today.