reentry

Guest Blogger: Veronica Baker

Our Grant Writer, Veronica, joined the Development department at Second Chance in January 2018 and took a moment to reflect on her time learning about the impact of our Adult Programs.  

I’ve always liked the word REDUX. It’s one of those rarely seen words that makes you sit up and take notice. In Latin, redux (from the verb reducere, meaning "to lead back") can mean "brought back" or "bringing back."

I don’t think I ever really thought deeply about the significance of the word until I joined the team at Second Chance. For some reason, the word kept popping up in my mind at odd times – sometimes walking down the hallway at our facility at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Training Center, or in the midst of a conversation with one of our Job Readiness Training participants, or people enrolled in our Reentry Court program. Redux seemed like a thread that wove its way through each of their lives. The notion of coming back, or being brought back, is one which embodies the spirit of the many people who come through the doors of Second Chance. People whose lives – for whatever reason – took a wrong turn and veered off into some other unplanned direction.

A newly employed Job Readiness Training graduate with the famous bell.

A newly employed Job Readiness Training graduate with the famous bell.

It is evident in their faces, full of hope that this new road will lead to a better place, hope that they can finally leave their past behind.

It is evident in the thoughts and insights they share with fellow classmates, or returning graduates who are there to share their journey back from wherever that wrong turn took them.

And it is evident in the joyful ringing of the large Captain’s bell in our lobby – a rite of passage for graduates who have succeeded in overcoming their challenges and finding work: a stepping stone to independence and self-sufficiency. Each time the bell rings, loud and clarion clear, it is a cause for celebration: not only for the successful job seeker, but the many Second Chance participants who are on their own journeys toward a fresh new start, their own redemptive road to Redux.

PREVENTING RECIDIVISM: YOU'VE JUST BEEN RELEASED. NOW WHAT?

For those recently released from jail, adjusting to life on the outside can be extremely difficult.   Read on to learn about how to prevent recidivism.

It’s the last day of your sentence and you’re looking forward to breathing the free air again. You walk outside of the steel barbed wire fence at last and look at the open world before you. You take a big breath of fresh air and promise yourself you’ll never return to the cell where you spent the last twenty years.

For many, this moment of happiness is fleeting, as they soon discover they’ve been released into a world that turns out to be yet another prison cell with every door locked to them. Unfortunately, most prisoners are released with few options other than returning to crime, which inevitably leads them back to prison. They are thrust into an endless cycle of exclusion, unemployment, homelessness, and ultimately a return to the prison cell from which they were released. (67% of people released from prison in California return in one to three years.)

It is for this reason reducing recidivism is the key driver of Second Chance’s vision. Preventing recidivism means providing individuals with an opportunity to find housing, gain employment, access healthcare, regain a driver’s license, seek education and guidance. The world they knew before prison may have changed drastically – smartphones, online applications, automated systems, Facebook, Instagram – what does it mean and who will teach them?      

Seeking to answer that question, hundreds of individuals have come to Second Chance to participate in our Job Readiness Training (JRT) program and/or our Sober Living Housing program. JRT course activities are largely accomplished in a group setting to nurture teamwork and interpersonal skills. Upon graduation of the program, graduates receive two years of case management and assistance with job placement.

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Some prisons are now offering opportunities for prisoners to learn the skills they need to succeed after prison, before their release. They run programs to teach inmates hard skills like engraving, baking, bicycle repair, laundry, janitorial, or culinary arts. Second Chance teaches participants how to utilize and best present these skills to potential employers.

Second Chance helps participants regain their self-worth and teaches them to apply their talents in an effective and productive way. Clients learn how to present themselves to employers and peers in a professional manner. It is the goal of Second Chance to help people leave their incarcerated lives behind and unlock the full potential that many of them do not yet know is there. Our ultimate goal is to lead the way to self-sufficiency, breaking the unrelenting cycles of incarceration and poverty.

- By guest blogger Oliver Brewer, student at College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA., and marketing intern for Second Chance.

 

Would you like to support the Job Readiness Training program? You can make a monetary donation today by contacting Maureen Polimadei at 619-839-0953, or by making a secure online donation.