While my relationship with mass incarceration and the War On Drugs (I hate capitalizing that) began before I was born, my journey looking into these issues began in 2006. One evening I was writing a final project paper for one of my grad school courses and was not excited about my topic at all. Then a phone call came with bad news concerning a relative who, was again, in trouble for selling drugs. Somehow I turned a moment of anguish into an academic pursuit for answers to the question, how do folks who’ve been incarcerated get their lives back on track?
I began typing into google search, interrupting/stopping the cycle of incarceration and ending incarceration patterns. From that search I learned the term recidivism so I began to search, reducing recidivism and interventions to reduce recidivism. That search brought articles about education as a powerful and proven intervention to reduce recidivism – and I had my new topic for that paper.
After receiving an A+ and lots of positive feedback on that paper and accompanying presentation, I carried that topic through to my culminating project for my M.Ed. program. I wrote a personal narrative and literature review entitled Higher Education for the Formerly Incarcerated Student Population: Implications for Student Affairs Professionals. I also defended that work before a committee of faculty, administrators, and my peers.
In addition to attending any number of presentations and workshops, my present and past critical prison work includes the following:
- I worked with a group of volunteers to plan a fundraiser for the Center for Church and Prison that was held in March 2014.
- I am also in conversations to support, as an event planner, the work of a coalition of local organizations and individuals who are collaborating on restorative justice projects in communities and schools.
- I am working to bring a group of students from Berklee College of Music to the Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk, MA for praxis in support of Boston University’s Prison Education Program. More specifically students and staff from Berklee will participate, and perhaps lead, a few sessions of the existing Music Appreciation course.
- Hosted group to view and discuss the webinar Thinking Outside The Cell: Providing Educational Opportunities For Offenders & Ex-Offenders
- Coauthored and published article Redefining Lives: Postsecondary Education for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Individuals