FREEDOM WITHIN PRISON PROJECT
Facilitating The Transformation of Incarcerated Men
SPRING 2016 NEWSLETTER
We are currently delivering our program on a weekly basis at Santa Cruz County Main Jail and Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP). We also provide programming periodically at Rountree Medium Facility in Watsonville.
In the county jail, we are part of a collaboration of facilitators who provide curriculum for an innovative program called CODE 4 (Correctional Opportunities for Developing Empowerment). Code 4 is a new, twelve-week program for individuals who are determined to be at high risk to recidivate but have demonstrated a strong desire to make changes in their lives. The program provides inmates with an intensive, structured and supportive space where they can explore behavior patterns, which have caused harm in their lives. Participants develop and practice skills that facilitate fundamental shifts in these destructive patterns. The men in our program gain a sense of empowerment by supporting each other in making behavioral changes, and ultimately, healthier choices in their lives. Many of the participants are released after the 12-week curriculum while some are placed in other reentry programs.
We have just begun our third session of CODE 4, and while the data will need to be tracked over the course of time, the program has shown great promise. Through our first two twelve-week programs, only one out of eighteen participants returned to custody. We are deeply committed to this program as it allows us to have a significant impact on men who are soon to be released and returned to our community.
In Salinas Valley State Prison, we facilitate two groups of twenty-five men on two separate yards. We have just begun a new six-month curriculum cycle. Countless hours have been spent designing and refining our curriculum model to best suit the needs of the men "inside". Some of the key components of our curriculum include: Communication Skills, Mindfulness/ Meditation, Emotional Literacy and Intelligence, Integrity & Accountability, Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice. At its foundation, our work is built on developing trust within our groups to establish a strong “container” in which men feel emotionally and physically safe. This environment of mutual trust and emotional safety facilitates radical honesty and deep vulnerability within our groups.
Big news from last week inside SVSP!
One of the men who has participated in our B yard Group since it's inception in 2013 went before the State Board of Parole and was granted his release! This gentleman is in his thirty eighth year of incarceration. We were honored to hear him share that he had spoken to the parole board specifically about our organization and credited FWPP for helping him grow in to the man he is today. Most of the men in SVSP are serving long-term sentences or in some cases, life without parole, so you can imagine what a momentous occasion this is. The fact that FWPP played a role in this man's transformation leaves us humbled and profoundly gratified, especially knowing that he'll be reunited with his family and community.
As you can imagine, the steep learning curve of non-profit operation has posed numerous challenges. Through this process, it became apparent that we were in need of a consultant to support our organizational development. We are pleased to announce that Christopher Szecsey (www.christophersconsulting.com) will be supporting us over the course of the next year as we take a "deeper dive" into non-profit operation, board development and fundraising.
Christopher brings a great deal of experience and expertise as a consultant in the non-profit sector and comes very highly recommended.
We recently had our initial meeting with Christopher and are truly inspired about taking our next steps as an organization. You can expect an update and an invitation to a "meet and greet" in the coming months.
FWPP Video Production!
We are in the preliminary stages of collaborating with a videographer to produce an informational/ promotional video. Within the next several months, we anticipate bringing a film crew inside Salinas Valley State Prison to shoot footage of our groups and interview participants, FWPP facilitators, and Department of Corrections staff. We are thrilled about this project, as it will serve as a powerful tool for increasing public awareness about our work and promoting the organization.
Once again, we offer each of you our sincere, heartfelt gratitude for your willingness to support our organization and the powerful work we are doing on the frontlines of transformation. Your support is invaluable as we continue to grow as an organization and fulfill our stated mission of reducing recidivism rates and decreasing crime and violence in our jails, prisons & communities by facilitating the transformation of incarcerated men.
We are excited about assessing and executing our next steps as an organization and collaborating with you on this journey!