When I was barely 6 years old, my loving, educated and hard-working father fell into a life of drug abuse and repeated incarceration. That experience changed the trajectory of my life and was singularly formative in making me who I am today.
Every month, nearly 200 former inmates come back home to Detroit. Nearly 75% will commit a crime again – one of the highest rates in the nation. For their sake and ours, we must work to make our city safer by reducing recidivism and ensuring that every returning citizen has a chance to become a productive member of society.
I am proud to have created and chair the Detroit Taskforce on Returning Citizens where we are working to remove the nearly insurmountable barriers to reintegration. Already, we’ve made progress by:
-Winning a $5 million federal grant to create a “one-stop” system of resources for returning citizens and their families;
-Coordinating with more than 20 community service organizations in the region;
-Holding resource fairs to bring together returning citizens, service providers, and prospective employers;
-Partnering with the Workforce Development Board for skills training and evaluation;
-Partnering with projects like “Recovery Park” to look at innovative ways to introduce returning citizens back into the workforce.
Through this work, we are rebuilding people, families and our communities. For me, this project is personal but we all have a stake in it. We must give our returning citizens the best second chance possible to become productive members of our community–for their sake and ours.
“If we don’t give our best second chance to citizens returning home from jail or prison, we doom them, their families and our community to an unacceptable cycle of incarceration. For me, this project is personal.”