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Forward!

Forward! Best foot first just in case. When we made our way 'till now. It's time to listen, it's time to fight. FORWARD!” -Beyonce & James Blake.


The most asked question in any movement is “where do we go from here?” The resounding answer is FORWARD! If positive change is to continue to happen, we must keep going forward no matter what. We move forward even when facing insurmountable trials and tribulations. This is why I'm happy to play a role in helping our brothers and sisters reenter the community after incarceration.


Even though everything seems to be stacked against them, they find the will and courage to try to move forward. So, it is imperative that we do all we can to remove these stumbling blocks. We need to ensure that our brothers and sisters are not penalized for an eternity after serving out their sentence. We need to ensure that they are given a fair shot at opportunity. Education is one of the best ways to help formerly incarcerated people find employment and plan for the future.


Completing high school, and possibly pursuing a college degree or technical skills programs opens up a wide range of career possibilities. Based on research, formerly incarcerated people who participated in correctional education programs were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years of release than those who did not participate. This translates into a 13–percentage-point reduction in the risk of recidivating.” 


Not only are they less likely to return to prison, but they are also more likely to find employment after release. Additional funding for educational programs offered at correctional facilities and in communities are therefore critical. 


Financial education is also critically important to help people achieve long-term financial independence. Formerly incarcerated individuals need improved access to resources that can help them manage their money more effectively. Understanding how to budget, improve credit and save for retirement, often leads to financial stability.


Non-profit organizations that provide access to free financial education and credit counseling services for formerly incarcerated people by working with re-entry groups are vital to getting the information to the people that need it, but they should come mostly from our government. Instead of profiting off people’s shortcomings and circumstances we should invest in reentry programs.


Ban the Box, is one way to end the discrimination faced by millions of people in the United States, returning to their communities from prison or jail and trying to put their lives back together.  It is a campaign to win full restoration of people’s human and civil rights. We should support initiatives and laws that rail against prejudices for people with conviction histories. These injustices have grown and flourished to the point that now most employers and housing providers, most universities and colleges, even voting registrars ask that question, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” 


Formerly incarcerated and convicted people know that the conviction history question on applications poses an almost hopeless obstacle.  Banning the Box – eliminating that question – is crucial for communities and families. 


In conclusion, whenever we feel there’s nothing, we can do to contribute to the wellbeing of our communities as a whole, remember this, we can be more effective serving as a hope than a hindrance. FORWARD!

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