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UCOM Makes Re-entry Easier

March 21st, 2011

 “The reason why I'm homeless is because I am a convicted felon. No on will hire me. I've done my time but society wound let me stop doing my time. I just want a job and a place to live. after all I'm 51yo.” –Alan Reeder, Los Angeles

Where do you turn?

Where do you turn for hope when you are newly released from prison? When Marcus got out he found his family ties severed and no church connections able to help. There were way too many people standing in line for available jobs—people who had not spent the past eight years behind bars. Housing soon was an issue, and Marcus became one of the homeless. Now he is sleeping in missions when he can and under the bridge when the missions are too crowded. Drugs and alcohol are all around him, and there is plenty of peer pressure to engage in some of the behaviors that brought him to prison in the first place. When he was first released Marcus was determined to do it right this time, but every day of negative reinforcement takes him one step further from his goal. Marcus is on his way to being a statistic—one more of the 67% of released prisoners who find their way back into incarceration within three years of their release.

What crime, incarceration and recidivism do to a community

You have seen the detriments of crime and recidivism: broken homes, children without good role models, unsafe neighborhoods, rampant drug abuse, homelessness and hopelessness. The Michigan Department of Corrections agrees that there must be a better way to use our resources rather than building more prisons—a way that helps people to re-integrate into society, to become productive citizens, to restore family relationships and to forge new networks that lead to improved lives.

Enter Dave’s House

Restore Hope, a program of UCOM, is just such a restorative justice model. Our newest project Dave’s House is a broad-based collaborative, the least including an intermediate residence for people who really want to get their lives together after release from incarceration. Utilizing an integrated program of education, psychological and spiritual support, job-readiness preparation, transitional employment, job placement, and community involvement, Dave’s House offers another chance to people who have failed to live up to society’s expectations. It holds people accountable for their past and helps them to take responsibility for their present and future.

Community Leaders express support for Dave’s House

“If I had a wish it is that the whole community would get behind Dave’s House and make it happen. Housing is such a need for re-entering people, right up there with employment.”

--Yvonne Jackson, Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative coordinator for Kent and Allegan Counties, MI

“I get emotional when I think of the guys who are trying to make it on the outside and are sleeping under the bridge.  What kind of chance do they have to make good?”

--The late David C. Moore, M. Div., Founder of Restore Hope, ex-offender

What you can do

In United Church Outreach Ministry’s 2011-2016 Strategic Plan, opening Dave’s House is scheduled for 2011. An outstanding advisory committee of community leaders is poised to open Dave’s House to our first group of re-entering citizens this year. First, we need to add your support to this project. The start-up costs and first year of operation require about $170,000. Two very generous gifts totaling $55,000 bring us nearly 1/3 of the way to our goal. Your gift will make sure we open on time. Every day counts as we move to make our community safer, families happier and lives better by this innovative collaboration.

My next blog post, The Neighbors Speak of the Need for Dave’s House, will be a series of quotes and bullet points from community people expressing the benefits of having such a restorative justice project and residence in their community. Ok, and a few ideas of my own.

 

How do you feel about a program like this in your neighborhood? Please comment below.

Comments

#1 Heather Heaton said:

Please consider introducing Heather’s story, a series of ebooks entitled “Her Letters from Prison”, to your ministry participants.

Heather Heaton's new ebook series ("Her Letters from Prison") is an inspirational resource for reading pleasure, review, contemplation, and discussion.

Heather's own testimony: "God changed my life in prison!"

"Her Letters from Prison" (Parts 1 & 2) will validate your inquisitive thoughts and doubts about what goes on in women’s prisons (It is what it is!); and it can justify the efforts spent toward women’s prison ministries. These two ebooks can be a motivational (tell-it-like-it-is) resource for drug rehab/prevention and reentry programs, especially when combined with "Her Letters from Prison – Part 4: Recycled – Second Time Around".

"Her Letters from Prison" is a non-fiction, inspirational, romance ebook series; with Heather's original letters (with prison art) included as images for authenticity. Heather's story describes how female offenders are perceived and handled (often abused) in the criminal justice system. The story continues (Part 4) to describe Heather's first two years of re-entry back into the real world and how she ended a destructive narcissistic-codependent relationship.

"Her Letters from Prison: Women-in-Prison" (Part 3) contains two PowerPoint presentations prepared for the University of Alabama/Women's Studies "Women in Prison" conference. Both presentations are based on Parts 1 & 2 of Heather's story; and they are entitled "Women-in-Prison (Almost Invisible)" and "Women-in-Prison (Facts/Myths)". Also, Heather's personal testimony is included in the Part 3 publication.

You can go to http://www.heather-heaton.com, and click on a direct link to Heather's Amazon.com and/or Smashwords "book pages" for “Her Letters from Prison”. Alternatively, you can visit Heather’s author pages:
1. http://www.amazon.com/author/heatherheaton
2. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/heatherdh

Heather’s ebooks are also available in paperback format. The paperback book ("Her Letters from Prison") may be obtained by contacting Heather through her website "contact" form. The paperback book contains Part 1, 2, and 3 ebooks. "Her Letters from Prison - Part 4" will be published as its own paperback book soon.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Heather Heaton

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