RMO Success Story: Living Proof

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Thursday - June 28, 2012.

At 6'2", with broad shoulders, and a deep bass voice (think "James Earl Jones" and go down a notch), Zach might not look like a man who'd recite poetry. But reciting, reading, and writing poetry are some of his favorite activities.

He recites a line from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet:

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain."

Zach should know. He's experienced enough sorrow in his 50 years for several lifetimes. "I was physically abused as a child. I got to a point where I got used to it. I didn't cry any more, but it developed a hatred and anger within me," Zach says. When Zach was eleven, his mother died, and he was moved, first to Philadelphia then to New York, where he lived among drug dealers and gangs. Zach was shot four times, but survived each shooting. "It was a violent upbringing," he says. Eventually, it was a path that led to prison over two decades ago, when Zach was a young man . . .

RMO Success Story: Seeing the Light

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Tuesday - June 26, 2012.

Ricky* sees light at the end of the tunnel, and for the first time in nearly a decade, he's able to say, "I feel blessed, like this is right where God wants me to be." Ricky's "tunnel" has been a long, dark journey through bi-polar disorder, PTSD, and obesity, to cocaine addiction, homelessness, and prison. He's quick to add that his life wasn't always this way.

"My father was a minister and my mother was an English teacher. Everyone else in my family has been very successful. They all have college degrees. I went to a private Christian school, and I grew up in the church."

But Ricky also grew up with learning disabilities and some then-undiagnosed mental health issues. Compounding that, he says, "I was a really obese child. All of that put together was tough." Then, when Ricky was fifteen, his father died. "That threw me for a big loop," he says quietly. Ricky got into drugs. "Cocaine became my miracle weight-loss drug. My mental disorders and the drugs were a terrible combination." . . .

Healing Communities Trainings for Lancaster County Congregations & Faith Leaders: Sept/Oct 2012

on Monday - June 25, 2012.

With 1 out of every 100 American adults currently incarcerated, and 1 out of every 28 Pennsylvanians under some form of criminal justice supervision, the odds are that every house of worship, regardless of size, location or demographics, has at least a few members whose lives have been impacted by the criminal justice system, whether as defendants, prisoners, victims of crime, people coming home from prison or the family members of all. However, due to the shame and stigma associated with crime, victimization and incarceration, many people who are affected don't feel comfortable telling anyone of their experience, and other congregation members and even clergy might not be aware of these individuals and families and how they are hurting.

Healing Communities is a proven national model for engaging congregations in restoration and healing of their own members whose lives have been impacted by crime.

The Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO), in partnership with the Lancaster County Council of Churches & Intra-City Progressive Pastors Association, will be offering the one-day Healing Communities Training  two times this autumn:

DATES (choose one): Either Sat, Sept 15, 2012 OR Thu, Oct 4, 2012

TIME: 9:00am-4pm both days

LOCATION: Community Mennonite Church, 328 W Orange St, Lancaster, PA 17603

COST: $40/person or $100/3 people from a congregation (includes all materials & lunch)

TO REGISTER for one of the above dates, contact

Melanie G. Snyder, Executive Director, Lancaster County RMO at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   or   717-723-1075

(see next page for details on Healing Communities)

Birth Certificate no longer required to obtain PA Photo IDs

on Thursday - June 14, 2012.

As part of Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, state officials have simplified the process of applying for a state photo ID.  Pennsylvania-born residents no longer have to submit their birth certificate in order to get a state photo ID. They can simply go to PennDOT and give their personal information and then PennDOT will cross-check that information with the PA Department of Health's birth certificate records. This process may take about a week. Once PennDOT confirms with PA Department of Health that a person's birth records are in the state system, the person will be notified to return to PennDOT with their Social Security card and two forms of proof of residence (such as a utility bill, lease agreement, etc) in order to obtain their state photo ID.  State officials estimate that the whole process to get a state-issued photo ID should now be about 10 days. For a recent news article on the simplified process, see:



Criminal Records, Hiring Decisions and "Redemption"

on Tuesday - June 12, 2012.

In the age of widely available electronic data and Internet background checks, it can be challenging for an employer to know what data is accurate and whether someone's criminal past represents a current risk.  The new EEOC ruling on hiring and employment practices related to criminal records will require employers to think more critically about what data they use and how they use it when it comes to criminal records.  

Recent research by one of the most prominent criminologists in the United States, Alfred Blumstein, Ph.D., may help employers concerned about hiring people with criminal records to make more informed decisions about when someone with a record may be considered no longer a risk, based on how long ago their criminal activity occurred.