Tag Archives: 2nd Chance University

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