The Change Program
Helping those who are willing to help themselves Change!
Our program is focused on low-income black men and women reentering society after release from prison or jail. Our efforts help strengthen the black family, the black community, and thereby the Washington State community at large.
Black men and women need the support of their families. Given the stress of the reentry process for the black client and family alike, the support of family is crucial. It may take several months, sometimes several years, for a formerly incarcerated person to reintegrate back into society. Therefore, it is helpful to overall public good if families are supportive and understanding during the reentry process.
Black men and women need sustainable employment after incarceration. Black people often face some of the worst job prospects and disrespect on the job; this may correlate with the status of being an ex-offender and being Black. This produces an intersection of oppression.
Black men and women need more help than other races because they serve longer sentences. Research shows that Black people need more help than in the past, as they are more likely to be serving longer sentences. Longer prison stays mean longer disconnections from family, friends, and larger social networks and reentry with greater needs for untreated substance abuse and mental illness conditions (Decker et al., 2015; Middlemass, 2017). Contact between a father or mother and their child(ren) is important for the well-being of both and the further maintenance of strong family ties, given the lengthy sentences Black people often receive (Browning et al., 2001).
You should know the WHY?
We want people to know reentering Black men and women must deal with the historical impact of race, which continues to weigh on present-day issues of reentry (e.g., Jim Crow, War on Drugs, the criminal code; Balko, 2013). Although reentry is an issue that impacts individuals across racial and ethnic groups, research has found that reentry is more difficult for Blacks (Frazier, 2014). Petersilia (2003) argued that race is the “elephant sitting in the room” for reentry.
Black males who return to society after incarceration do so with limited social capital, education, and employment skills to assist them throughout the reentry process (Jackson, 1997). Before incarceration, incarcerated persons often lack vocational skills and employment history, further complicating their prospects for employment after incarceration (Petersilia, 2003).
Research has found that 68% of state ex-convicts were rearrested within 3 years, 79% within 6 years, and 83% within 9 years of release (Alper, Durose, & Markman, 2018). For Blacks, their recidivism rates are higher than Whites (Alper et al., 2018). Throughout the United States, structural inequality and economic disparity have created conditions in urban environments that often foster crime and criminal justice involvement (Kubrin & Stewart, 2006). The inability to find legitimate employment can propel the formerly incarcerated to turn to illegitimate means to make money to support themselves and their families (Visher & Travis, 2003). Communities into which Black formerly incarcerated males and females return often lack the resources necessary to support successful reintegration (Clear, 2007). Particular to Black communities, over-policing of Black males, failing educational systems, and the breakup of Black families because of the removal of Black fathers have contributed to a crisis in these communities, negatively affecting the quality of life for Black families. These factors have also created a process that has destroyed the psyches of Black formerly incarcerated males while significantly limiting their employability (Browning, Miller, & Spruance, 2001; Davis, 2017; Kozol, 1991).