Category Archives: reentry

Trauma Informed Care, Yesterday to Today

Being a non-profit working with young and old adults involved within the criminal justice system, we hear the term Trauma Informed Care more often than not. As a matter of fact, the term, especially when dealing with alternatives to incarceration, our criminal justice system, and effective reintegration, is in the limelight right now. According to those in the know:

Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.

I remember growing up and how the word trauma was tagged (exclusively) to a military setting. No doubt, heading off to war can (and often will) directly affect the individual; of that there is little dispute. Way back when, it was rare that anyone not directly involved with the military was recognized as shouldering post-traumatic stress.

Unfortunately, family members left behind were often forgotten about or brushed to the side when it came to trauma… out of sight… their voice was rarely heard.

Jumping from childhood to well into adulthood, the consequence of trauma has been expanded to those outside of the military to include individuals indirectly involved in the incident or event. With such an expansion recognized, recovery is being addressed in a more effective manner… no more out of sight… their voice will be heard.

By today’s standards, traumatic experiences requiring care ranges from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. When it comes to our vulnerable youth and the effects of trauma, the world, neighborhood, and home can create an ever-lasting impression on the heart, mind, and soul; without proper care, these youth are at risk.

Beneath the trauma inducing umbrella are events such as:

Natural disaster
Death of a loved one
Being in a car accident
Child witnessing home abuse
Family member going to prison
Loud noises, gun shots being heard
Shootings and/or neighborhood fighting
Child being the victim of abuse, physical and/or emotional

The above is not all-inclusive but should give you an idea as to what we are dealing with.

On a personal level, the following happened years ago, which, if handled incorrectly, could have changed the path of two very young boys:

When my two boys were just three and four years of age, I purchased two living ducklings as an Easter present (before you panic, we lived on a farm so this was normal activity). My boys were in total awe at the new addition and insisted the ducks stayed in the house. I allowed.

On the second night, the new addition remained inside and in a cardboard box like the night before. After much quacking and smelling of duck poop, around 4:00 am, I placed the cardboard box outside, just within reach of the door. Unfortunately the night was a bit too cold and the ducks did not make it.

My boys woke to the sound of silence as they stepped out to an unexpected event. They both were very upset, shed tears, and did not understand what had happened. That morning, I sat the boys down and explained in a calm and empathetic way what had happened. Over the next few days we had gentle and sensitive talks about it and before long, all was fine.

Though insignificant in comparison, if handled without care and empathy, the event could have made a rippling psychological scar of one or both of my boys.

If a traumatic event happens to someone in your life, do know there are general things one can do to minimize lifelong effects. In my situation outlined above, I remained patient and understanding, allowing deep and meaningful discussions (even though the boys were very young, they deserved respect, a voice, warmth, and empathy).

Simply being there is the first step, as for second and third steps, we’ll review what the experts in the field suggest in articles to come.

To help all of us progress, I welcome your stories to be added into our series.

If you chose to share, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.

Danny Huffman,
Founder and Journeyman
2nd Chance University

Steven’s Doubled CHE Quotient

Last time we stopped abruptly in the middle of Steven’s story, time to check out how his CHE Quotient — not too worry, for those not in the CHE Quotient know, you will soon.

Looking at the numbers, Steven had no chance…but you can’t always bet on the numbers

What Steven had to learn was that he was a unique person with value. That he deserved a better future. That he could actively choose a different path than the one he had walked since his youth.

His lesson started there: by restoring hope, developing empowerment, and bolstering the commitment necessary to change one’s life. Recognizing his own potential and aware that failure (a return to prison) wasn’t an option, Steven committed himself to embracing these lessons and became one of our human element successes.

For Steven, 1 + 1 = SUCCESS!

I had felonies in my background and I couldn’t get a job. You helped me overcome them in my interviews and become a man of integrity. Now I have a job! Thank you!”

Steven isn’t a number or a statistic, he’s a person. He’s a person who won’t be an inmate ever again. He’s a person able to find employment despite his past. He’s a person with the hope and skills to make his bright future real.

Speaking of numbers, his CHE Quotient doubled to 3.8, and that’s a number one can be proud of.

For the politicians and haters, statistics and numbers have their uses, but they don’t provide the whole picture. That’s why we measure numbers by lives changed: nothing else matters.

I invite you to join in—send your human element short story for publication consideration. Together, we will build a force and make a difference.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit dedicated to the socially invisible, those justice-involved seeking a journey of wonder and amazement.

1 + 1, what does it add up for you?

Richard Milaschewski
2ndChanceUniversity.org

1 + 1 equals… well, that depends

Statistics and numbers have their uses, mostly depending upon the agenda spinners manipulating them. While numbers reveal much about a particular situation, the fact remains, they can also obscure things, creating more of a head-scratching event than a cerebral epitome.

Question, if numbers are black and white, how can they also turn into grey on a subjective whim? To illustrate, let’s concentrate on what we know best… the criminal element, namely recidivism.

It’s easy to get caught up in discussing recidivism rates, budget allotments, and what really works as the amount of money involved is racking up beyond infinity. Given the nature of subjective realism, debating crime stats, studying methodologies, and examining sample sizes is akin to trying to close a cracked Pandora Box.

Unfortunately, without context and content, numbers on a spreadsheet are simply just that: numbers on a spreadsheet.

To be real, numbers mean nothing, what matters is living a good life, where fear no longer exists and where dreams can (and do) become reality through hard work, commitment, hope, and empowerment.

Truth is, 2CU is not here to crunch numbers (though we have a few to crunch), we’re here to change lives and bring light to an otherwise darkened world. Offering hope, especially for the justice-involved, and raising the torch for all to follow.

For a moment, let’s look beyond retention rates and placement numbers and uncover the human element so many simply don’t understand or chose not to see. Let’s look through the eyes of Steven, a graduate of our program and one who happens to wear a number on his back.

Steven was reared to see the world where struggle was a way of life and giving up on the system (and self) was just the way it was. He saw a dark, dangerous place with no security, no safety net, no support, and definitely no future. Lacking a father figure at home, he sought acceptance and guidance in the street.

Didn’t take long for a gang to offer Steven what he felt was lacking. A series of arrests would give him a record and a narrower path to follow for the remainder of his years.

After release, Steven resisted change, claiming there was no way anyone would give him a chance. His stint in prison left a heavy mark on him. Holding a CHE Quotient of less than 1.5, his main obstacle was himself and the barriers HE created for himself.

Two months after release and slipping back into his old routine, he came to realize (due another near-by) destiny would be behind bars. He got picked up but was gifted a second chance.

Avoiding a return to prison depended upon his finding himself and gainful employment, but the difficulty he faced in finding work with his past was daunting. Steven was despondent, feeling that the stigma of his past would never go away.

Looking at the numbers, he had no chance… but you can’t always bet on the numbers

(Going to slow this down for now, will conclude tomorrow when we will uncover Steven’s CHE Quotient after the program and what path he is venturing)

Richard Milaschewski,
2ndChanceUniversity.org

Mixed Messages

Deciphering the President’s Take on Criminal Justice Reform

President Trump brought criminal justice reform to the forefront of the political debate with his State of the Union address. In a startling turn for the president, who campaigned as a hardline law and order advocate, President Trump voiced support for measures tackling recidivism and the lingering effects of incarceration, stating: “…this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.” 

The president managed the considerable feat of appealing to both sides of the debate, and that’s what makes me nervous.

Most Americans want comprehensive criminal justice reform. Washington seems to prefer gridlock. The phrase “war on crime” has been used by presidents since Lyndon Johnson, and despite billions of dollars spent and new policies and laws enacted, the incarceration crisis has not improved, so forgive any skepticism with the latest rant.

As a candidate and a private citizen, Mr. Trump made his pro-police, tough on crime stance clearly known. In the past, he has blasted “forgiving” judges who “…emphasize criminals’ rights over those of ordinary citizens.” In fact, the clearest message we can glean from the president’s statements is that he sees America as divided—there are police and ordinary citizens, and there are criminals.

This is just the kind of binary thinking that leads to failed policies like mandatory minimum sentences.

This is just the kind of thinking that allows racial animosity to grow.

This is just the kind of thinking that leads law enforcement officers to believe that they are above the citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.

Has there been a change of heart? Does President Trump truly want released inmates to flourish and succeed while walking the line?

It’s possible, but guarded optimism seems the right approach. After all, in the same speech, he called for getting tougher on drug dealers—just rhetoric, right?

Well, under his administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges and strictest sentences possible in drug cases. This new policy forces prosecutors to request an exception from a superior before going after lesser charges for lower-level crimes, creating de facto minimum sentencing and taking autonomy away from federal attorneys.

Meaningful justice system reform is going to take a lot of work. Balancing a tough on crime approach with empathy and concern for the struggles of former inmates is a tall order, but it is possible.

As far as the president’s sincerity regarding second chances goes, we can hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and keep working to promote significant change.

Richard Milaschewski
2nd Chance University
http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.org

Landscape Melting and “Good-Enough-Disorder?” Think Again

Image by Morgan Sessions
Image by Morgan Sessions

“I did my job; what more do they want?”
Sharon

There are many excuses for doing just enough to get by, personally as well as professionally. Being a business owner and career coach, I’ve heard more than my share of excuses justifying complacent behavior over the years.

I don’t get paid what I’m worth, so why give more than I get paid?”
Sharon

Tell the truth, how many out there have not worked their promised potential simply because you believed you deserved more?

NOT good enough defined?

Personally:

  • Accepting defeat without putting up an honest attempt to overcome barriers
  • Giving up after one attempt or let down… stopping never will get you beyond
  • Allowing others to convince an attitude of complacency (guilty by association)
  • Believing negative self-talk, living each day as just another day
  • Convincing yourself you do not deserve better
  • Being satisfied with who you are… here’s a hint, no matter who or what you are, there is ALWAYS room to advance

Professionally:

  • Accepting an invisible status
  • Performing at the lowest denominator (just doing enough)
  • Lacking positive self-talk, affirmations, and/or visualizations
  • Taking extra time at the coffee pot, texting, or strolling the Internet
  • Not stepping up to the plate, taking charge, or being the go-to person
  • Always having to be asked to perform a function or making careless mistakes
  • Believing your worth far exceeds your production (self-delusion can be job threatening)

For those identified with the “good-enough-disorder,” don’t fret as there are ways to get unstuck. No doubt the first question one with this disorder would ask… “why isn’t good enough, good enough?”

Personally:

  • The core of humanity and civilization is progression, creating a better life for you, your family, and the community; without personal and cultural evolution, humanity would have never advanced beyond the Stone Age, meaning life without Facebook would be a reality.

Professionally:

  • Companies AND employees accepting complacency do not survive… period.
  • Employers seek candidates to hire and promote who are not satisfied with status quo, desiring those with the aptitude to go boldly beyond grey.
  • Complacent employees rarely earn promotions, pay increases, and are often downsizing victims.

What you can do NOW:

  • Take a clear look at yourself, your goals, and your life. Determine if the person looking back in the mirror is the person you were meant to be AND you are happy with who you are and where you are. If the answer is yes, you may be carrying the highly contagious good-enough-disorder bug. If the answer is no, the first step has been crossed… off to a good start.
  • Upon reading this article, take out a piece of paper and make a “reachable” commitment with action plan. In other words, on a personal and professional note, tell yourself a goal and then WRITE the goal (and action plan) on a piece of paper (the act of writing is an important step toward goal achievement). Clipping or drawing a picture also adds to eventual realization—be sure and post the picture wear you will see it EVERY morning as you begin the day.
  • Establish a time-line and stick to it.
  • VISUALIZATION: Imagine the new you or the desired product as if it has become a reality. Once your mind accepts this reality, achieving becomes more attainable.
  • AFFIRMATION: Each evening and each morning make a pledge that required steps will happen. Upon the evening, if steps were not satisfied, evaluate how you will overcome challenges on the following day. That morning, engage in self-talk, determining the goal will become a reality.
  • Association: Gather around peers, friends, family, etc. who challenge you to stand up to the goal and will not allow excuses to get in the way.

The good-enough-disorder has the capacity to stumble not only your achievements, but those around you as well (including family members). Ultimately, how you want to live your life is entirely up to you and if you decide complacency defines you, don’t blame the lack of promotions, employment, and satisfaction on anyone but yourself.

The final element purging the good-enough-disorder out of your system resides within the following:

Focus and
Single-Mindedness

With focus and single-mindedness, there is nothing which cannot be overcome. Remember there may be one peak atop the mountaintop, but there are MANY paths one can take to get there.

There are no excuses but the ones you convince yourself you believe! For the highly sensitive person, the above tips are exceedingly important. I know how easy it is to melt into the landscape (and wanting to melt into the landscape).

For the HSP, take small steps… NEVER stop stepping! 

Seeking employment insight and career collateral, visit www.edu-cs.com or if you are seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison, check out www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

“Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose”

www.CareerBreakout.com
http://www.CareerBreakout.com

“Circle the yard until every grain touches your soul.
Duck   

Duck died last month, on parole. After serving 13 years in prison, he entered a world dramatically changed since beginning incarceration. Duck’s story, challenges, employment barriers, and societal roadblocks are not his alone.

After all, according to the latest Bureau of Justice Statistics:

      • One in four United States adults have a criminal record
      • The United States has 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated people
      • 14,000,000 people move through the prison system every year (no typo here)

Time ain’t nothing but empty space. What we decide to put in the empty space determines who we are. Nothing else matters… nothing else.”
Stick

Stick served time twice and is currently supervised by the board of pardons and paroles. While doing time, Stick took advantage of every educational opportunity and continued his education upon release. He too, is not alone according to the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (December 2014):

  • An estimated 6,899,000 persons were under the supervision of adult correctional systems at yearend 2013
  • About 1 in 35 adults (2.8%) in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2013

Recognizing the stories behind Stick and Duck are relatable to approximately one in four adults (not to mention affected family members), Education Career Services, Career Breakout, and 2nd Chance University are dedicated to providing successful offender transitional programs and books into an often non-forgiving public.

For over ten years, Duck and Stick consulted with the research, writing, and coaching teams, offering a perspective and reality into “Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose” as well as our six-book intensive series offered through 2nd Chance University.

What have we learned over the years? Glad you asked. Positive offender reintegration as well as personal and professional success can become a reality. Will it be easy? Not a chance. Are there help and resources to get you on your path? There is, Career Breakout has taken the lead. 

Research highlights many employers ARE willing to give second chances if the individual possesses these basic characteristics (just to name a few):

  • The right mindset: too often offenders are not mentally prepared to the challenges they will be facing upon release and for years to come. Taking wishes out of the equation and keeping it real must be the first step… and that comes from within as detailed by Duck and Stick.
  • Honesty: Offenders are watched like an eagle, accept it, live with it. This means no lying on job applications, during interviews, or while networking. This does NOT mean one should shout to the world background blemishes… don’t get me wrong.
  • Confidence: When asked about an arrest, conviction, or probation, own it. Once accepted, turn poor past judgments into a learning and growing experience. There are several effective methods to do this, unfortunately there is not enough space to cover at this time (do get our website address concluding this article for available insight and resources).
  • Preparation: If you’ve never heard of a letter of explanation, time to get the groove on and develop one. Our material covers these, and above bullets, for your advantage.

As Duck, Stick, and thousands of others have found out, transitioning from prison to the “real world” begins with the self.

No one ever promised life after prison would be easy. Truth is, easy is not part of the equation, but there are common mistakes many felons make upon release. It’s not really their fault, they just didn’t know the right things to do after getting their 50 dollar voucher and bus ticket. With Career Breakout, the right things to do are in black and white.

Time is now to accept reality: the individual transitioning from razor wire fences are seen as a risk. Not knowing effective methods to turn risk into benefit or believing you won’t succeed places you on the fast track back to prison.

What’s the use of trying? After 12 years in prison, I can’t change the stripes on my back.
Felix

Do you have what it takes to make it upon release or will the rebound find you with a violation? Believe it not, you have the power AND now you have the resources.

If you or someone you know desires to overcome barriers due to an arrest or conviction, invite them to review the latest publication from Career Breakout, Duck, and Stick. Warning, the contents offered demands an active role on your part and will only be effective if you are committed to freedom… at any cost.

There are no excuses but the ones you convince yourself you believe!

“I’m not a number.”
Duck

Seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison and choose freedom, visit www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com