Friday, August 1, 2014

Adult Literacy, Incarceration and Re-entry

Yesterday, I attended a Forum on Adult Literacy, Incarceration and Re-entry, organized by Academy of Hope
Among the Panelists were two formerly incarcerated individuals.  One is now a director of an organization that helps returning residents, and also helps with providing support for abused,neglected, and homeless youths by assisting them to obtain marketable skills.

The other shared her struggle with surviving on the outside after 15 years  spending time in and out of jail.She spoke about feeling unworthy,  not completing high school,  giving up on the GED several times, drug use.  fear of learning computer when she returned to society.  One thing she said  resonated with the attendees.  When she said she could not do maths,  mentor helped her see the light by using the analogy of her use of crack.  "How much crack do you use... If you get only one piece.. If you get several... how much is that. etc. etc."  She was quick with  computing her responses to the crack math count.

She is still struggling with obtaining the GED at age 40, is also concerned about her children, hoping they are not inhibited by her behaviors.

Everyone complimented her on still trying.

Another speaker was a passionate advocate for incarcerated youth, Director of Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop. 

It was great to see community advocates working to improve the lives of the incarcerated and concerned about the biggest problem- that of support on re-entry.  

 I asked about community collaboration because I think this is what will help improve the efforts.  Too often  I see  each group working in silo, competing for the same source of funds, duplicating efforts.  I am hopeful this group will do some collaborative work towards helping returning residents, to re adjust to society and become productive citizens.

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