Of the 2.7 million people who are incarcerated in our prison systems across America, 650,000 will be released this year and 63 percent will return within three years. Recidivism is something that impacts all of us because there is no such thing as a victimless crime. In an effort to decrease these high incarceration rates, My nonprofit organization, The Optimum Institute of Economic Empowerment, Inc. (OIEE), and I have decided to dedicate the entire month of October 2009 to fighting against recidivism. Optimum refuses to sit idly by while so many in our community need assistance. We will be providing 15 workshops in less than 30 days to prisoners, juvenile detention detainees, gang members, drug rehabilitation residents, and troubled teens. Our goal is to improve this problem by providing comprehensive economic empowerment and financial literacy workshops to those in jeopardy of becoming institutionalized within the U.S. prison system.
We have been working for over a year with ComALERT (Community and Law Enforcement Resources Together), a program created in 1999 by District Attorney Charles J. Hynes to act as a bridge between prison and the community for parolees returning to Brooklyn. Twice a month we have been providing economic empowerment workshops for ComALERT and have been receiving tremendous response and feedback. OIEE has done these workshops free of charge by OIEE because we are fully aware that funds are very limited within this field, especially in light of the current recession. However, no funding should not mean no effort, so we have outlined four intensive weeks of workshops in October to increase our previous efforts and teach four populations:
- Youth detained in the Juvenile Detention Center
- Troubled teens in the community
- "Hard to employ" adults in the community
- Detained adults
If it takes a village to raise a child, the strength of the child depends upon the strength of the village. The strength of the village depends upon the ability of its members to be aggressive enough to work in unity with one another for the greater good of the community. It is understood by all that resources are very "tight"; however, we must understand we already possess in our communities all of the resources that we need to move ourselves forward... We just need to figure out how to work together to harness these resources for comprehensive community economic advancement.