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 IN THIS ISSUE    


1. Safe Return 

 QUICK CONNECTS  

 UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS           


DEC 1: Volunteer Appreciation Night (Gifts and Gratitude), Freedom Project Office 
DEC  8: Anti-Oppression/ Mass Incarceration, Freedom Project Office
DEC 12: Volunteer Info Session, Freedom Project Office
DEC 27: Community Circle, Freedom Project Office


 
Safe Return
Freedom Project Friendraiser

 
 

Imagine what it would feel like if you were removed from society because of impactful decisions you made many years ago, then released after 24 years. How you would put your life together with nothing but $40 in your pocket and a stigma that follows you for life?

Nearly 8,000 people released from Washington prisons next year will transition home with layers of trauma and stigmatization, encountering barriers at every turn. And within 5 years, nearly half of those individuals will be reincarcerated.

For nearly 18 years, Freedom Project has been supporting community building, healing and connection inside Washington State prisons and has helped nearly 7,000 people prepare to reunite with their families, children and community before they are released. We’ve seen amazing results. A peer-reviewed Antioch University study shows that participating in just 30 hours of Freedom Project classes reduces one’s chances of being reincarcerated after release by 43%.

As one participant said, “I have been out of prison for six months; in that time, I watched 13 people return to prison. I am not one of them because of Freedom Project.”

But the community inside is only part of the success. When folks get out, they look to Freedom Project for support and connection. Now, we are building capacity to meet people’s needs when they come home.

Starting today, Freedom Project commits to walk with people as they transition from prison and offer much-needed community support every step of the way

The Safe Return program is a community-based reentry model designed by people who are formerly incarcerated to walk shoulder to shoulder with folks coming out of prison. Safe Return offers:

  • Mentoring, peer support and Reentry allies
  • Support finding resources in education, jobs, housing, health care, voting, drivers licenses, etc.
  • Help navigating the world outside prison (groceries, supplies, cell phones, transportation)
  • Supporting people to find meaning, purpose and self-expression, like worthwhile employment, speaking, and leadership opportunities   
  • Offering trainings and connection to help folks examine their biases and fears about other people who have been incarcerated
  • Creating community housing based in the values of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), mindfulness, racial equity and anti-oppression

Our dream is that all of us are held in community, knowing that we matter and belong. This dream inspires us to extend connection, empathy and support to folks inside prison, through the transition home after prison, and in the community where fears and biases cause painful disconnection. 

Together, we can do this. We can work toward eliminating re-incarceration in Washington State. We have the strategies of Nonviolent Communication and mindfulness. We have the staff and the volunteers, and we have been working hard this year to build relationships with other reentry organizations, the Department of Corrections, and prominent leaders with whom to partner. We have been deepening our integration of racial equity and anti-oppression frameworks. 

And most importantly, we have you.  Because we cannot do this alone. 

Our goal between now and December 31 is to raise $40,000 to jump-start Safe Return for 2019. \ Consider making a gift that is meaningful to you, your family and your community.  Please lend your support at freedomprojectwa.org/donate.

"It's not the Antioch University's evidence-based proof that we want you to see... that's data. We want you to see the faces and have the conversations with the people [like me] whose lives have been touched by this organization. Ten years ago [when I got out of prison] I lived in a tent under a bridge...today I'm a project manager with the DOC Reentry Division." - Franklyn Smith

To be welcomed home is probably the best feeling in the world. Regardless if it’s your dog getting over-excited when you walk through the door after a long day of work, or your spouse and kids embracing you after a long trip. Just imagine what it would feel like if you were removed from society because of horrible decisions you made so many years ago, then released after 24 years. Imagine how you would need to put the pieces of your life together with nothing but $40 in your pocket and a stigma that makes life that much more difficult. The truth is, being welcomed home could be the difference between success in society and going back to prison. 

To increase the possibility of success and supporting a safe return back into society, Freedom Project is providing Welcome Home bags. Included in these bags are all the necessities a person will need on their first day back into society, complete with a personalized letter:
- hygiene items
- basic toiletries
-bus passes (if needed)
- gift cards for clothing and other necessities

Additionally, as the magic isn’t just in providing the things people really need on the day of release, Freedom Project is there for them, walking with them shoulder to shoulder through this most difficult transition. There is only one way to welcome someone home… with empathy, compassion and, at the very least, helping them get their most basic needs met.

Freedom Project supports healing connection and restorative communities both inside and outside prison through the strategies of Nonviolent Communication, mindfulness, racial equity and anti-oppression. A SAGE Antioch study has shown that 30 hours of our trainings and workshops reduces recidivism of those who participate by 42% and saves the State of Washington 5 million a year. In an effort to do more, we have made a commitment to walk with people as they transition out and offer much-needed community support every step of the way.
 
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