Category Archives: reentry

Jamais vu

Over the next few moments, take a self-psychological moment and get into the conviction of jamais vu.

Seeing eyeless allows one to gain insight and empathy into a world most know nothing about or are too afraid to invest emotionally.

jamais vu.
Andrei Lazarev, Unsplash

Crossing the bridge onto renewing adventures is challenging. For those leaving prison and entering a new world the level of trauma is dominated by an eerie sense of misplacement.

Try to imagine entering a new world after 13 years wrongly incarcerated as Duck experienced.

One of our goals at 2nd Chance University is to bring worlds together through life experiences from Duck, Stick, and many others contributing to our curriculum.

Don’t just read the lines from Duck, for a moment, feel each word and emotion. Come to understand crossing the bridge is not a matter of walking through an opened steel door.

Doing Time

Nothing was more intense than approaching the door for the final time. I grabbed mismatched clothes, got a bus voucher, and held my head high. No greater feeling at the time. Looking back, I don’t see release as a success. Release meant I let people down. After all, if I had done right, I would have never been sent to prison in the first place. This failure will haunt me every moment of my life.
Duck

After serving 13 years Duck entered a changed world. For a moment, place yourself in his shoes and imagine how your life would be if you were locked away for the next 13 years.

  • What world would you enter?
  • What do you think the most difficult adjustment you would have to make?

Escape jamais vu: See eyeless to transcend self/social-delusion.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly.

For those wishing to introduce 2nd Chance University justice-involved empowerment programs into an organization, institution, or facility, step forward; together we can make a difference.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
2nd Chance University
http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.org
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

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2CU: Stick / Sanity and Steel Doors

In prison, sanity is balanced by lost years and steel doors. Stick takes our workshop audiences on a quick mental venture as he compares freedom to lines captivity.

Sanity and Steel Doors
Sanity and Steel Doors

2nd Chance University keeps the experience real, giving all a taste of what life behind bars is like in an effort to pull workshop participants back onto their path.

Stick

Lines are formed in a silent hypnotic manner as we are told how to walk, where to sit, and when to think. Don’t talk or act on your own initiative, for those things are reserved for the free world.

Obey, work, obey, work, and then you notice a faraway look in your coworker’s cold gray eyes. Where is he looking?

For some it’s 2025 and for others 2040. Still others can only look back in time to that one precious thought, that real moment in time, freedom, knowing they will never hold freedom ever again.

Interactive Insight

In the eyes of an ex-convict, what do you think freedom means? Why would Stick claim they will never hold freedom ever again?

  • To an ex-convict, what do you believe freedom means?

After our work day we silently shuffle down the quarter-mile-long hallway that connects to our wings. They lead us to our six-by-nine-foot homes.

Cruel steel doors loudly slam behind us as we step inside the small, dreary existence of home. The few possessions we are allowed to keep try to fill the emptiness of our cement boxes.

Pictures from home, a small plastic radio and commissary goods are no match for the colorless white and gray that overwhelms our comfortless cells. But in this apathetic world these small concessions mean as much as having a ten thousand dollar bank account in the free-world.

Interactive Insight

  • If you were in prison, what possessions would you hold most dear and why

Day becomes night and night becomes day with little variation in most of our lives.

We think back on past mistakes that relentlessly chew on our memories.

For most of us these memories are hurtful and hateful things we try to erase, but they continue to creep, crawling into our awareness like a stinging scorpion. Heartaches and headaches are now measured in choices that were wrong.

Sanity is balanced by lost years and steel doors.

We suffer from a broken past and a distant, uncertain future of when and how. When are we going to get out, and how? Walking or carried out feet first?

Depression and doubt constantly lurk in the shadows of our mind. Insanity hides just behind them.

Interactive Insight

  • Do you believe Stick’s words ring true to what it’s like in prison? Why or why not? What do you think prison is like on the soul and sanity?

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly.

For those wishing to introduce 2CU and our programs into an organization, institution, or facility, step forward; together we can make a difference.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
2nd Chance University
http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.org
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

2CU: OK, I was Wrong

Yesterday had the opportunity to attend the River Council Business Networking event and must admit… I was wrong.

Held at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Sanford, the folks attending (and operating) were not what I had expected or were accustomed to. Professional, courteous, respectful, and genuinely interested are just a few words summarizing the experience.

Thanks to Kate Crockett from ECPI University, our non-profit targeting those who are justice-involved is developing a stronger sense of community and support.

Together we can make a difference
Together we can make a difference

Here’s how I was wrong

  • The event was not a waste of time
  • Folks at the River Council Business Networking event care about the community

After the conclusion of the event, multiple business and individuals approached to share their stories, add to the list of contacts, and more importantly, prove this organization (and members) possess a human element.

2nd Chance University partners with organizations/institutions dedicated to those who have stumbled. Our material and workshops take advantage of real people, real life, and real issues.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly. For those wishing to introduce 2CU and our programs into an organization, institution, or facility, please step forward; together we can make a difference. On this note, I will be sending out follow-up communications to those giving me their cards at the meeting…

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.org
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

2CU: Treading the sensitive

In today’s political and over-ambushed scene, treading the sensitive has taken on new and unbalancing dimensions.

All deserve dignity
All deserve dignity

For the justice-involved, recognizing their mental, emotional, and psychological landscape can be a huge step away from recidivism and leaps closer to safer streets.

Dose of reality

2nd Chance University is about preparing those who have stumbled with the tools to succeed. With this in mind, the topic of sensitivity needs to be addressed. Partnering with triangulation, let’s take a look at treading the sensitive from three perspectives:

From the justice-involved:

  • Any miss-step could mean revocation and a return to prison
  • Being released does not equate to instant freedom, physically, emotionally, or psychologically
  • Typically an “out to get me” view where choices bombard, forcing vertigo with reckless abandon

From the employer:

  • How do I interview someone convicted of a crime
  • What will other employees think if I hire a convict, is it fair, is it safe
  • Is hiring a felon the right thing to do or should I just close my eyes from it all and pretend I am doing the right thing by discriminating against those who have stumbled

From the community:

  • Let those who have been incarcerated remain and rot
  • Don’t want anyone who has a record in my neighborhood
  • Those who have stumbled cannot be trusted, believed, or are capable of recovery

When it comes to treading the sensitive, those who have stumbled have lived the life and will continue to do so until their dying days. Granted, some are not deserving of second chances but all deserve to be treated humanely and with dignity.

In order to become a productive member of the community, those who have stumbled must understand not only the above perspectives, but must also develop tools to overcome those obstacles… this is the mission at 2nd Chance University.

2nd Chance University partners with organizations/institutions dedicated to those who have stumbled. Our material and workshops take advantage of real people, real life, and real issues.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly. For those wishing to introduce 2CU and our programs into an organization, institution, or facility, please step forward; together we can make a difference.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.org
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

Hire a Felon? Say it ain’t so

I hire those who have stumbled… but there are two fundamental conditions.

Are you scissors, rock, or paper?

Before pointing fingers and saying not fair one group has conditions while another does not, stop and think about it for a moment while we side-step at the positives and risks when hiring an ex-convict.

The justice-involved

  • Appreciate the opportunity and (more often than not) do not take the opportunity for granted
  • Develop loyalty quicker than those who have yet to be humbled
  • Have more to gain through employment; enhances self-esteem while keeping their PO off their back
  • Want freedom and know the consequences of slipping, on and off the job
  • Work harder and with enthusiasm (in general) than those who can find employment without the banning box

A few risks worthy of consideration

  • Monthly morning or afternoon probation officer meeting
  • Additional training may be required
  • Worrying about what others may think or say
  • Confronting personal fears and prejudices on a daily basis… If I need to explain, denial is real
  • Is it safe or will I get robbed, raped, or killed… (while on this bullet, statistically speaking the chances of you getting any of the three is more likely to happen by those who have no arrests or convictions… in other words, it may be safer to hire an ex-convict over a slacker without a stumble

So easy to point fingers… we’ve all pointed so don’t get atop that high horse. Come to think of it, we’ve all done (or said) things which the justice system could have altered life as we know it… all of us. For those who claim otherwise, stop lying to yourself as no one believes you anyway.

Back to my initial line regarding two fundamental conditions… candidates must:

  • Make the choice to believe in their knowledge, skills, and abilities
  • Not play games… if you have to ask, don’t

As a hiring executive and business owner, hiring an ex-felon has always been a matter of choice.

In many companies there resides inherent prejudices against those who have stumbled (recall the box). Still, within the machine the inherent prejudices reside within the hiring manager.

Truth is, few care; few are willing to offer hope a chance. Honestly, do you give hope a chance or do you fake it?

I believe in hope, I believe in people, and I believe in second chances.

2nd Chance University partners with organizations/institutions dedicated to those who have stumbled. Our material and empowering workshops are about real people, real life, and real issues.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly. For those wishing to introduce 2CU and our programs into an organization, institution, or facility, please step forward; together we can make a difference.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
2nd Chance University
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

2CU: The Real Thing

Throughout our programs Stick and Duck detail their experiences about doing time. Though there are entertaining movies and books about prison life, those don’t compare to the real thing.

The Real Thing

Bosses scream while walking the runs of our prison wing all day and most of the night. The nights are the worst. Some of their voices are all right but most of them grate on our nerve endings, like fingernails screeching against a blackboard. Other sounds pierce the fleet slices of nightly solitude.

The banging of locker doors, the abusive curses from one row to another, and the pitiful pleadings and crying of, “please no more, no more” make this world one nobody could understand without experiencing it.

We cover our ears, longing for the unnatural acts to be over quickly. A few of us begin to pray for the person being molested. We get very little sleep.

Stick

Insight

What do you think you know about doing time and prison life?

Doing Time:

Prison life:

2nd Chance University partners with organizations/institutions dedicated to those who have stumbled. Our material and workshops take advantage of real people, real life, and real issues.

For those wishing to partner with 2CU and our programs into an organization, institution, or facility, please step forward; together we can make a difference.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
http://www.2ndChanceUniversit.org
2nd Chance University, nonprofit 501(c)
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

The Human Element

2nd Chance University believes everyone can reach their mountaintop no matter the obstacles in the way. Our programs rely on trauma informed care, behavioral best-practice approaches, cultural and holistic theories, and the most important ingredient threading success: the human element.

All Deserve the Opportunity to Rise

Never forgot the look on my kid’s faces, a boy and a girl ages 10 and 8, when I saw them for prison visitation. When they saw me the first look on their small faces was pain and my daughter’s eyes filled with tears. It broke my heart to see their initial expressions and I too choked up. I vowed in my heart once out, I would do what it took to stay out and be a good father.
Stick

Insight

Why do you think the “human element” is missing from so many programs dealing with the justice-involved?


What do you think “human element” means?


2nd Chance University is a nonprofit partnering with organizations and institutions dedicated to empower those who have stumbled. Our material and workshops take advantage of real people, real life, and real issues.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
2nd Chance University
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org