In Their Own Words - Participants' Voices - Letter from a Client

on Monday - May 18, 2015.

We recently received this letter from a client in our Reentry Employment Program at PA CareerLink of Lancaster County:

Finding employment in today's economic climate is a daunting task for a "normal" person with "normal" challenges. The difficulties in securing an interview, let alone a job offer, are exponentially increased for an ex-offender who was incarcerated for five years in a state correctional institution. I felt as though I had a Scarlet Letter attached to my back.

Having never been a fan of "government" or "government-related" programs, I was not initially enthusiastic about the prospects of the Re-entry Program at the Lancaster County Career Link. T.A.B.E. test? Aced that in prison. Complete a video course about showing up to work on time, properly groomed and attired? Common sense. How are those things going to assist me in my job search? I must humbly admit I was wrong . . .

RMO Intensive Client Progress - J's Story

on Tuesday - April 07, 2015.

J is a 34 year-old male with a criminal history spanning 15 years that included drug and DUI offenses, burglary, assault and other charges. He had dropped out of high school, but later completed his GED while in prison. He had a history of repeated bouts of homelessness, as well as a long history of alcohol and prescription drug addiction. He also had a history of being physically abused as a child.

He has no family support. He has 3 children but their mother forbids him to see them.

While incarcerated at LCP the client completed the RMO Reentry Course, and then was referred to the RMO Intensive program . . . 

Healing Communities Training for Clergy and Congregations

on Wednesday - March 11, 2015.

With 1 in 104 American adults currently incarcerated and
1 in 28 Pennsylvanians under criminal justice system control,
the odds are EVERY congregation has members impacted by crime and the criminal justice system, whether as crime victims, offenders or families.

Shame and stigma prevent people from talking about the resulting hurts and harms, or seeking help.

How can congregations create a culture of safety and support for those who need it?

Healing Communities* training offers answers.

Healing Communities is a proven, national model, developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation with faith leaders from across the theological spectrum to engage congregations in the restoration and healing of their own members who have been impacted by crime and the criminal justice system.

Two Healing Communities trainings will be offered in Lancaster County in Spring, 2015:

Friday, May 8, 2015
8:30am – 4:00pm

Ebenezer Baptist Church

701 North Lime St
(corner of Lime & New)
Lancaster, PA 17603

REGISTER ONLINE AT:

http://rmohc-20150508.eventbrite.com

 

OR

Saturday, June 6, 2015
8:30am – 4:00pm

Community Mennonite Church

328 West Orange St

Lancaster, PA 17603

REGISTER ONLINE AT:

http://rmohc-20150606.eventbrite.com

 

Healing Communities training covers:

• Essential information and perspectives on the criminal justice system, current issues, and the impact of crime on victims, survivors, offenders and families

• Relevant questions for reflection and discussion within congregations

• Ideas and resources for pastors and faith leaders to engage congregants

• Tools, information and resources for congregation members

• Resources and dedicated time to develop a customized congregational action plan suited to the culture, demographics and core beliefs of YOUR congregation

COST: $40/person or $100/3 people from a congregation (includes all materials & lunch)
QUESTIONS? Contact Melanie G. Snyder, RMO Executive Director:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or

Phone: 717-572-2110

For a printable flyer, click here

 Healing Communities Instructors

 

In Their Own Words - Participants' Voices - RMO Reentry Course

on Tuesday - February 24, 2015.

This is the first of a series of articles in which people in various RMO programs will share their perspectives and experiences.

First up, reflections from a few of the women who graduated from a recent RMO Reentry Course at Lancaster County Prison:

* "Taking this 6 day class helped me out alot. It showed me that I do have a chance in life. That I can still do things with my life. And it also gave me a different outlook on the outside. I really think that this program changed me, gave me strength to keep going forward, and can't wait to move forward and work with the program on the outside." - Jasmine

* "I feel that this class is very informative and basically helps teach us about Lancaster County's resources so that I can use them as tools to help myself when I do get out of prison. I feel that it helps remind us that we aren't alone. Sometimes I think that some of the presenters aren't aware of how hard it is to get the ball rolling and finding support, that we need somebody to personally hold us accountable for our actions and stipulations to even begin being somewhat successful." - Melissa

* "This course has really gave me a different outlook on my release. It has answered all my questions on what to do. Thank you, so so helpful!!. Gave me some hope to change my life. I enjoyed this program and hope to keep up with the RMO program on the other side of these walls." - Tessa

The RMO Reentry Course is a 12-hour pre-release reentry and life skills course for men and women incarcerated at Lancaster County Prison. This course is for people with a criminal record who have encountered barriers to success and want to learn skills and get information on resources that can help them become productive citizens and remain crime free. The instructors are subject matter experts from RMO partner agencies with extensive experience serving people being released from prison to overcome the barriers associated with a criminal background.

Participants receive a workbook that includes individual transition planning and goal setting worksheets with questions based on motivational interviewing principles.

This course consists of six two-hour sessions, covering the following topics:

- Community and Legal Resources: covers all programs, agencies and resources listed on the Self Sufficiency Reference Guide that we have created in partnership with United Way of Lancaster County. Participants will receive a free copy of the Guide.

- Housing, Transportation and Managing Your Money: this session explains the connections between where one lives, where they work, transportation options and one's financial situation all fit together. The session covers basic information about finding housing, what landlords expect, transportation options, and basic money management skills.

- Family Responsibility and Parenting, and Getting Along With Yourself and Others: This session covers the characteristics of strong families, information on how incarceration impacts families and children, and tips for reconnecting with family and children after release from prison or jail. It also covers tips for establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, resolving conflicts peacefully and creating a network of positive support people.

- Health Care and Mental Health: This session covers the basics of taking care of your physical and mental health, including diet, exercise, basic medical care, managing stress and managing anger.

- Addiction, Relapse Prevention and Wellness: This session helps participants to understand the roots of drug and alcohol addiction, addiction warning signs, relapse triggers, relapse prevention, and the basic building blocks of physical, emotional, and social wellness.

The course and workbook also include information and connections to the Reentry Employment Program and services at PA CareerLink of Lancaster Co.

Graduates receive a certificate from the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO) that becomes part of their file at LCP. Copies of the certificate can also be given to the graduate's parole officer, sentencing judge and others, at the graduate's request.

This course is also an entry point to the RMO Intensive program, which provides intensive case management, transitional housing and a wide range of other services upon release from LCP through the network of about 30 partnering agencies who are involved in the RMO collaboration. 

The RMO started this program in partnership with LCP in 2011, and now has over 150 graduates.

Eliminating Barriers-Part 2

on Tuesday - February 03, 2015.

Here's more from the "One Strike and You're Out" report from The Center for American Progress which highlights several key statistics:

  • 70 - 100 million Americans now have a criminal record (nearly 1 in 3 people)
  • mass incarceration and the collateral consequences of a criminal record are tightly linked to the poverty rate in the US; one study estimated that the US poverty rate would have dropped by 20% in the last two decades of the 20th century if it weren't for these impacts
  • the costs of mass incarceration to the American economy have been estimated in a variety of ways, including a negative impact on the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of up to $65 Billion annually due to "the cost of employment losses among people with criminal records"
  • America spends over $80 Billion per year on mass incarceration - and these are funds that are then NOT available for things like education, healthcare, infrastructure and other resources that could contribute to a better quality of life in communities

The report includes this quote from the "My Brother's Keeper Task Force":

"We should implement reforms to promote successful reentry, including encouraging hiring practices, such as “Ban the Box,” which give[s] applicants a fair chance and allows employers the opportunity to judge individual job candidates on their merits as they reenter the workforce."

Among its many recommendations, the report outlines several ideas for "fair chance" hiring practices:

1) Remove questions about an applicant's criminal record from job applications (commonly known as "Ban the box") and only do a background check once the employer is seriously considering hiring the job applicant

2) Completely eliminate and even prohibit questions about arrests that didn't result in a criminal conviction

3) Let jobseekers review and verify the accuracy of any information about them that comes up on a background check

4) Provide opportunities for jobseekers to share information about the positive efforts they have made to improve themselves