Faith leaders grapple with big questions about crime, restorative justice and the role of congregations

on Monday - March 10, 2014.

Faith leaders grapple with big questions about crime, restorative justice and the role of congregations

How do crime and the criminal justice system impact victims, offenders, their families and the whole community?

How do shame and stigma prevent us from talking about and addressing the resulting harms?

Are we afraid of those in prison or who have been in prison? What are we afraid of and why?

How do we, as a community, move beyond shame and fear to create a culture of safety and support, and to offer restoration and healing to all those who need it?

These were a few of the challenging questions a group of faith leaders from around Lancaster County grappled with at the Healing Communities training held on Saturday, March 8, 2014 in Lancaster . . . 

Traumatic Childhood Experiences Linked to Adult Addictions, Mental Illness and Crime - Part 2

on Tuesday - February 11, 2014.

As mentioned in the previous article on trauma, ACEs and links to crime, addiction, and mental illness, various studies have found that early psychological trauma may actually cause lasting changes in the brain that are connected with addictions, mental illness and aggressive or violent behavior later in life.

What do these changes in the brain actually look like? The Family Policy Council of Washington State created a presentation on "The High Cost of Adverse Childhood Experiences." Here are a few of the slides from that presentation that explain the changes in the chemical and physical development of the brain ("Biological Effects of Abuse & Neglect") that occur with various traumatic experiences during childhood...

Traumatic Childhood Experiences Linked to Adult Addictions, Mental Illness and Crime

on Tuesday - February 11, 2014.

Traumatic Childhood Experiences Linked to Adult Addictions, Mental Illness and Crime

The subject of childhood trauma (often measured as "Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)") and links to substance abuse, mental illness and crime has been getting a lot of attention in the professional criminal justice, mental health and addictions literature over the past few years. In this series of articles, we'll explain ACEs, look at definitions of "trauma", examine some of the relevant research, and what corrections, mental health and addictions professionals need to know.

WHAT ARE "ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES" (ACEs)?

Adverse Childhood Experiences are when children experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse, emotional or physical neglect, loss of a parent due to separation, divorce, incarceration, abandonment or death; substance abuse and addiction within the family/household, family dysfunction; depression, mental illness or suicide within the family or household, incarceration of any family/household member, or witnessing violence against their mother or stepmother. 

Employment for Returning Citizens: Key to Success

on Tuesday - December 10, 2013.

Employment for Returning Citizens: Key to Success

A brand new white paper from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, in partnership with the US Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, provides an integrated strategy for reentry and employment for Returning Citizens.

According to the white paper, "Policymakers across the political spectrum agree that for people released from prison or jail, employment can be the gateway to successful reentry."  They cite evidence from Bureau of Justice Assistance and Urban Institute studies that demonstrate that getting returning citizens employed can reduce recidivism, and that returning citizens themselves cite having a job as key to avoiding criminal activity.

The white paper outlines a comprehensive resource allocation and service matching tool and advocates for an integrated service delivery approach that includes eight program components for reentry employment programs...

Somebody GOOD

on Monday - November 11, 2013.

“For the first time, I feel like I can do something with my life, like I can be somebody. Somebody GOOD.”   ~ Amy, age 40, RMO Reentry class participant 

Think of a time when you felt like other people cared about you, like you were "somebody special." What was that like? Call up those good feelings again and savor them for a moment.

Now, can you imagine feeling like no one cares what happens to you? Like you've been rejected by society?

Amy was in the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO) Reentry Course at Lancaster County Prison last week. She said, "Society doesn't care about us in here. It's like we don't exist. And when we come out of prison back into society, they don't want us out there either."

In some ways, Amy is right. Some people think we should lock criminals up and throw away the key.

But 95% of the people in our prisons WILL BE RELEASED back into our communities someday.

With 1 in 100 American adults currently incarcerated and 1 in 31 under corrections control (probation/parole, prison, etc), the odds are EVERY community has people who have been in prison.

Imagine that some of them are living in YOUR community. What would help you to feel safe?

The RMO partnership has proven that providing coordinated, intensive reentry services to help people coming out of prison can improve community safety, reduce recidivism** and save the taxpayers money***, while helping clients become productive citizens and remain crime-free.

When Amy completed the RMO Reentry Course, she said, "This helped me feel like I'm a real person again. For the first time, I feel like I can do something with my life, like I can be somebody. Somebody GOOD."

 NOTES:

** Nationally, about 67% of people released from prison are re-incarcerated within 3 years (67% "recidivism rate")
RMO clients' recidivism rate: 28% (mostly technical parole violations)
Only 9% of RMO clients have committed new crimes. We know that's still too high. We've got lots more work to do. Your donation will help!

*** Avg cost to incarcerate at Lanc Co Prison:               $59.16/person/day
      Avg cost to provide intensive RMO reentry services: $23.60/person/day