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  • The Government Stops Here: Civil Society’s Role in Prisoner Reentry

    Prison Cell

    The recidivism rate among ex-offenders in the U.S. is massive—upwards of 67 percent. Helping former inmates find and keep a steady job is crucial to bringing this number down.

    That’s what makes an article that ran in the Washington Post this past weekend so interesting. Michelle Singletary is a Personal Finance Columnist who runs the “Color of Money Challenge.” In past years, Singletary has used her writing and personal finance skills to both work with and share the story of unemployed individuals and struggling military families, but this year she is choosing to take up the challenge of working with two ex-offenders, Stephanie Harris and Christine Foote.

    In her article, Singletary discusses the many partnerships engaged in transforming these two lives. From the Prosperity Partners Financial Freedom Program at First Baptist Church of Glenarden to the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service—various organizations are joining together to teach and bring about lasting change. It takes a range of institutions to cultivate individual and community flourishing.

    As Singletary states:

    I have no doubt this year’s challenge will be tough. As a five-time convicted felon, Harris will have to trade her lucrative drug-hustling skills for a low-wage street-cleaning job.

    In order for Harris to stay out of jail, a kind of change will need to take place that rarely happens outside of relationship. This change of character requires a robust civil society in which individuals working through churches, ministries, community groups and friendship help teach values like integrity, self worth, and personal responsibility.

    As workforce development specialist Rhonda Gaines states:

    [These two ex-offenders] will have great appreciation for being a part of society, and being truly self-sufficient…[e]specially if they learn from you what to do with the money once they have earned it.

    Singletary’s story is just one example of many innovative partnerships taking place today among faith-based and community groups. You can explore more of this good work by watching the Heritage Foundation’s new video lesson: Restoring Dignity and Purpose: The Importance of Work. In it you’ll find more examples of civil society institutions doing the hard work of transformation in the life of ex-offenders—work that government simply cannot do.

    For more information on effective solutions for human need, visit www.restoringsocialjustice.com.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to The Government Stops Here: Civil Society’s Role in Prisoner Reentry

    1. Drew Page, IL says:

      You want to put the skills of ex-convicts to good use? Appoint them to government positions, perhaps making them czars. Then again, they could always run for Congress, having all the necessary pre-requisites.

    2. bigdave, ocala fl says:

      There is a simple solution to those who 1)REFUSE to live by society's laws ; 2) continue to increase the rolls of VICTIMS; 3) make excuses for the criminal element 4)belong to the ACLU. The people are almost at the breaking point.

    3. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Singletary is a prime example of why we have such a crime problem in this country. Harris is A FIVE (5) TIME "CONVICTED" FELON! Why is she still on the streets? If she has been "convicted" 5 times, how many crimes has

      she actually committed in her crime ridden existence? How much PAIN has Harris inflected on her victims? What"do gooders" refuse to accept is that some people are just plain "BAD" and cannot be rehabilitated. Those like Harris, with 5 convictions, is one. Anyone that commits that much crime, should never be

      allowed freedom ever again. What happened to the "three strike" rule?

    4. Carol, Roswell, GA says:

      To me the answer is simple; let's work on educating young girls 10 and up by teaching them to stand strong, empowerment, that education is the way out and the way up. You have to reach them while they are young. Teach them to respect themselves and to think twice about getting pregnant before they get a high school education; that the guy will not support them and government dependency is not the answer. The issue in this country is the rate of children being born to unwed teenagers. No one seems to want to address this problem. I don't hear the politicans or the ministers talking about it. The messge you need to get across to these young girls is; get an education, get a job and then have your children. We're not telling them to not have kids, but to wait until they can support them. Child abuse, boyfriend abuse, foster care, neglect, high school drop out rate, the teenage girl drops out of school, then they turn to crime and studies show that after a couple of years of trying to take care of their child or children, a high percentage of the girls end up on welfare. Very little hope for these girls and their children. We need to reach the girls and show them there is a way out and up. President and Mrs. Obama missed the chance to take on this cause because they are the best example of what you could be.

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