By | January 1, 2009

Peace and Blessings to all stakeholders, our readers, and the many supporters who have friends and family members who are incarcerated physically, mentally and spiritually. We the hearts and minds of F.O.X.O.’s leadership could never thank you all enough for your input towards helping us to reach our national outcomes to be a prototype for Re-Thinking, Re-Shaping and Re-Evaluating a new paradigm for Crime Prevention by maximizing successful re-entry and minimizing recidivism. {{more}}F.O.X.O.’s indebtness to the Miller Family is much wider than words can ever specify because of the peer support mentor and mentee colleague therapeutic brotherhood between Robert Lilly and myself. It is only because Robert Lilly had the courage to reach out via the internet to find support resources to help develop his dreams, himself and others that I was presented with the gift of our present opportunity to be a guess columnist for the West Texas Tribune Newspaper owned and operated by the Miller Family. Trust me when we say that our success is only the manifestation of opportunity meeting prior preparation to share our experiences with the West Texas Tribune Readership. We thank you all dearly and we pray that you, our extended family have prosperity with purpose and peace. Summary OverviewMore than 700,000 people are released from state and federal prisons every year, and hundreds of thousands more leave local jails. Rather than helping them successfully transition from prison to community, traditionally, many current state and federal laws have the opposite effect, interfering with the rights and obligations of full citizenship in nearly every aspect of many Ex-offenders lives. These laws diminish public safety and undermine justice and fairness for all, creating roadblocks to basic necessities for hundreds of thousands of individuals who are trying to rebuild their lives, support their families, and become productive members of communities. The majority of Ex-prisoners have not completed high school. In addition, close to three quarters of them have a history of substance abuse, and more than one third have a physical or mental disability. These former prisoners are going home to some of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, where they often lack stable social bonds and support networks and where there are few services to help them restart their lives. These new releasees and repeat offenders are often ill prepared to return to the community; nor do they have adequate access to resources needed to assist in their transition. Although there is a need for life skills training, employment readiness training and job opportunities, affordable housing, parenting skills development, substance abuse treatment and other mental health services are essential for a successful re-entry process, all of these essential are secondary and symptomatic to the chronic offenders. Empiricism indicates that a habitual error is made via treating the symptoms rather than the causes of this social dysfunction, which is the thinking and values of the offenders. Given the huge gap between their complex challenges and their limited opportunities for addressing them, it is not surprising that recidivism rates are high. In fact, more than half of former state prisoners are back behind bars within three years after their release, either as a result of a parole violation or because they have committed a new crime.F.O.X.O. believes that all behaviors are learned behaviors. We know that the behaviors of the newly released and repeat offenders will not change until their thinking change. Additionally, the societal powers to be must change their methodology, if they truly want to get their expected outcomes of changing the thinking and behavior of chronic ex-offenders, then society must dare to be different by modifying traditional paradigms that excludes the lawful expertise of law-abiding ex-offenders who understands the therapeutic application and peer mediation of a successful ex-offender’s ability to challenge and encourage behavior modification of high-risk ex-offenders to change their thinking, to change their behavior, to change their lifestyles from unlawful to lawful behavior. The foundation of F.O.X.O.’s transformation process is based on personal experience and not personal opinions. The seed of our success is cognitive restructuring “teaching new ways of thinking to influence and control thinking”. Our model is evident by the fact that we have lived a life of harm and wrong, crime and grime. However, when we begin to allow truth to be our primary guide via self-examination, self-analyzation, and self-criticalization, we realize how we contributed to our own demise. We believe based upon our personal experience that when you know better, you can do better. The unmanageability based upon the choices that we have made are indicators that we were not victims, but we were volunteer participants. Henceforth, we refuse to allow the aforementioned legal barriers and collateral damages to impede our God-given rights to be a participator versus a spectator in the American Dream, i.e. successful re-entry. We have evolved from being a rhetorician to becoming a technician by building a non-profit organization known as the Fraternal Order of X-Offenders, Inc. . Understanding the essentials for success such as commitment, dedication and purpose, our network has become our net worth . Our network and our net worth has enhanced our capacity to be a national model by developing from the individual chronic career ex-offender into a National Institution with A Powerful Training Encompassing Five Crucial Areas of Criminality and Crime Prevention on DVDs: 1. The Psychology and Sociology of Criminality , 2.Psychology and Sociology of Penology 3.Psychology and Sociology of Re-Entry 4.Psychology and Sociology of Adult Criminality and Child Delinquency , 5. Psychology and Sociology of No-Entry ex-offender population to be included in local crime prevention initiatives. We believe the X-Offender population is like any other human population, they have liabilities as well as assets. The question remains, who benefits when we exclude X-Offenders out of law-abiding processes because of existing legal barriers and collateral damages mandated by local, state and federal governments such as the following facts of a study by L.A.C. on legal barriers that people with criminal records encounters :• Most states allow employers to deny jobs to people who were arrested but never convicted of a crime.• Most states allow employers to deny jobs to anyone with a criminal record, regardless of how long ago or the individual’s work history and personal circumstances.• Most states ban some or all people with drug felony convictions from being eligible for federally funded public assistance and food stamps.• Most states make criminal history information accessible to the general public through the internet, making it extremely easy for employers and others to discriminate against people on the basis of old or minor convictions, for example to deny employment or housing.• Many public housing authorities deny eligibility for federally assisted housing based on an arrest that never led to a conviction.• All but two states restrict the right to vote in some way for people with criminal convictions. In the past 20 years, the federal government and many states have dramatically increased the number, range, and severity of civil penalties for those with criminal convictions and, in some cases, even applied them to people never convicted of a crime. Congress and state legislatures created new restrictions on eligibility for food stamps, public assistance, public housing, student loans, and drivers’ licenses, while further expanding bars to employment, parenting and voting.As a result of the explosive growth of legal roadblocks in the last three decades, successful reentry into society is much more difficult for people who have been arrested or convicted of crimes, many of whom are fully qualified to work and participate in society.Economic Capital and Human Capital LiabilitiesThis cycle of legal barriers, collateral damages, and recidivism produces many negative consequences. Households that are already fragile and fractured becomes overwhelmed in communities that are already struggling prior to a concentration of returnees from incarceration. The lives of those who move in and out of prison are wasted in the criminal economy. And the cost to taxpayers is enormous. Overall, the US spends more than $65 billion a year on prisons and jails.