There is a transformative power in good literature. A book can transport us to faraway places and introduce us to characters from different times and eras. It can rouse the emotions, challenge perceptions, and engage the mind in ways that few things can.
When Dr. James Gilligan started work as a prison psychiatrist in a medium-security facility in Massachusetts, he took with him a pre-formed perspective on the men he would be treating.
“I had been taught up to that point that violent criminals were untreatable sociopaths, that they would manipulate you,” he remembers.
Roughly 60,000 teenagers currently reside in juvenile detention facilities across the United States. While detained, these young men and women are separated from their friends, family—and the schools which they had been attending.
A recent feature on the PBS Newshour takes a closer look at the importance of educating youth behind bars, focusing on the efforts being made at one facility in Lowell, Massachusetts.
The need to be heard. It’s a core craving for all humanity. But for those behind prison bars, voices are mostly muffled, or at least, dismissed.
Because of New York artist Lauren Adelman and juvenile defender Francine Sherman, voices from prison are being heard and appreciated in the form of artistic expression.
Boston’s roughest neighborhoods are hardly foreign territory to Luis Rodrigues. At 11 years old, he began roaming those streets as a crack dealer. That lifestyle continued for years, until his life was nearly taken from him.
One night in 2008, Luis was shot repeatedly at close-range.
In 1994, Congress passed a crime bill that strengthened penalties for drug offenses and earmarked billions of dollars for new prison construction. Prison populations across the country boomed as a result, with recidivism rates remaining high. Drug offenses became the leading reason for incarceration, but prisons nationwide struggled to provide programming capable of breaking the cycle of incarceration, release, and rearrest.
Incredible. Outstanding. Changed my paradigm and my outlook. Extremely impressed. What could these comments be about?
A group of 41 current and former prison and corrections officials, policy experts, and Prison Fellowship staff gathered in Boston for the Warden Exchange’s second residency.
A version of this post originally appeared on the Justice Fellowship website.
A group of men in prison gather to listen as a mother shares the pain and sorrow of losing her child. The men sit silently with tears streaming down their cheeks while she relives the memory aloud.
Unemployment rates for ex-prisoners like Cassandra and Christopher is usually about 60-75 percent. One study found that job applicants with a criminal background were 50 percent less likely to be called back or offered a position than applicants without a criminal history. But in states and counties where the box has been banned, these statistics are different. In Minneapolis, after the state of Minnesota passed the ban-the-box ordinance in 2007, the number of ex-prisoners who were able to gain employment moved from six percent up to 60 percent.
Hope for Kids, Inc. launched this past December with the vision of reaching underprivileged kids in the Greater Springfield Massachusetts area with acts of kindness, spiritual renewal, authentic relationships, and physical nourishment.