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By Brother Bey , Fraternal Order of X-Offenders



Nationally each year, more than 700,000 former inmates from state and federal institutions return to communities throughout the U.S. Many of these men and women are returning to resource-poor neighborhoods that are exacerbated with a high propensity of crime, drugs and violence culture. In Maryland there are {{more}} over 13,000 releasees annually from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Of these, an estimated 68% will return to Baltimore City and 60% of those will return to five zip codes in Baltimore City. These inmates and newly released prisoners are often ill prepared to return to the community. Nor do they have adequate access to resources needed to assist in opportunities, affordable housing, parenting skills development, substance abuse treatment and other mental health services, which 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 dysfunction, which is the thinking and values of the offenders. Based upon F.O.X.O. members’ personal experience, we believe that all behavior is learned behavior and that people learn what they live and they may ultimately live what they learn. Thinking is the precursor of all behavior. We know that the behaviors will not change until the thinking changes. As you may know, the first primary mandate and responsibility of any society is to ensure and secure the health and well being of all its citizenry. Many attempts have been made to arrest the State of Maryland in general, and Baltimore City in particular, out of its dilemma of disparate criminality specifically within the African American male population; however, despite the best efforts of Federal, State and local governments, the proliferation of crimes, drugs and violence by repeat offenders has reached an epidemic crisis that needs to be assessed from a Public Health perspective in addition to the traditional public safety paradigm.F.O.X.O.’s Re-Entry Paradigm Shift The primary purpose of this article is to: 1. Re-think, re-shape, and re-evaluate the traditional input and output measurements for successful re-entry programs and processes.2. Articulate the essential need to promote a paradigm shift that is not only comprehensive, but holistic in addressing the multiple internal and external challenges that widens the gaps between theory and practices. A new paradigm must examine and eliminate the traditional dichotomy that perceives the ex-offender population’s knowledge as the tail-lights of potential successful re-entry, while receiving the academia research theory as the headlight for successful re-entry. 3. Provide information from a multi-disciplinary perspective that emphasizes the core relationship between distinct academic disciplines and human behavior. The questions would be, a.) “Does theory influence behavior or does behavior influence theory? b.) Does public policy influence behavior or does behavior influence public policy? c.) Are certain types of crime primarily a public safety problem or a public health problem?” 4. Advocate innovative, creative and proactive crime prevention processes that incorporate the unconventional methodologies and empiricism of the ex-offender population.F.O.X.O.’s Fact Sheet Identifying Re-Entry ChallengesBasic Data on Incarceration and Re-Entry• Magnitude of Impact on the Poor: Over the last 25 years, the U.S. imprisonment rate has increased fourfold, and expenditures on corrections have also quadrupled.• Household Impact: More than a million people in state and federal prisons, over 300,000 households with minor children have a father in prison.• Racial Disparities: Racial disparities are dramatic in every dimension of incarceration, including the impact on children.• Community Return: Everyday about 1,600 formerly incarcerated women and men return to the community; nearly 600,000 former prisoners are released each year.• Social Ties: Returning ex-prisoners, on average, have served longer sentences than prisoners in the past. Issues of Re-Entry• Vulnerability to Recidivism: Without sufficient supports, upwards of two-thirds of formerly incarcerated returnees will be rearrested for a felony or a serious misdemeanor within three year.• Inadequate Release Process: Most prisoners are released with little more than a bus ticket and a normal amount of spending money.• Human Capital Development: During their incarceration, only 27% of former prisoners participated in vocational programs, and only 35% participated in educational programs.• Health Issues: Returning ex-prisoners have higher rates of HIV status, mental health difficulties, and experiences of physical and sexual abuse than other members of the population.• Inadequate Parole Assistance: Not surprisingly, surveys of parole officers indicate that they give more emphasis to enforcing the technicalities and surveillance functions of parolees than they do to rehabilitation.Issues for Families• Magnitude of Impact: While 1.5 million children under the age of 18 currently have at least one parent in a state or federal correctional facility, an estimated 10 million have a parent who has been in the custody of the criminal justice system at some point during their childhood.• Sustaining Family Connections: Men’s prisons, on average, are located over 100 miles from their homes, and women’s prisons average 160 miles distance.• Lost Wages: For the disproportion of African American men who have been incarcerated, the group lifetime earnings lost is estimated to be $270 billion.• Lost Supports: Incarceration may restrict an individual’s access to family-supporting benefits such as housing assistance, TANF, food stamps, and Supplemental Security Income as well as certain kinds of employment.Issues for Communities• Distribution of Impact: Two-thirds of state prisoners are released into the central cities of major metropolitan areas, with large numbers returning to a small number of neighborhoods within those cities.• Loss of Political Rights: One in fifty adults-including 13% African American males either currently or permanently have lost the right to vote because of a felony conviction.• Loss of Consumer Power and Financial Capital: A typical neighborhood with a disproportion of formerly incarcerated males loses an estimated $46 million annually because of the “discounted” earnings power resulting from incarceration.• Mismatch of Re-Entry Needs and Resources: Mapping show that critical social services and parole supervision offices are often located distant from the neighborhoods that receive returning ex-prisoners.In closing, re-entry should be a community initiative which indicates that all children, youth and families must define what role they play in the process of moving from conceptualization to implementation. Our sources indicates that although individuals/ex-offenders may be apprehended and adjudicated, the convicted person is not the only one that shares the conviction itself because family members and significant others also serve time with the convicted persons. Therefore, F.O.X.O. is promoting that we broaden our involvement in the re-entry process to become more comprehensive in the process of successful re-entry initiatives. All stakeholders must move from spectators to participators, particularly the ex-offender population themselves.

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