Reentry Benefiting Families (RBF) is presently working with a rural detention center in Louisiana to develop, from the ground up, a reentry program where we have the opportunity to immerse the offender population, the detention center staff, and the volunteers into the Bridges Out of Poverty philosophy with the goal of reducing recidivism. In addition, RBF is implementing Getting Ahead and The R Rules – another first of its kind reentry program in Louisiana!
RBF is building this program from scratch at this local detention center. All our work to date has been in state facilities that already have established reentry programs. We will create all the programming and professional development for the staff and volunteers. This is especially exciting, since this is not something state facilities normally do!
This initiative began as a result of the positive results from our initial work with using Getting Ahead and The R Rules in two Louisiana correctional facilities. RBF developed a strong partnership with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and has been referred by the department to local jails and detention centers to assist in developing their own reentry programs.
For over a decade and a half, Louisiana has ranked No. 1 per capita in incarcerating its citizens. One in four black males in the state are presently incarcerated or under some level of correctional supervision. In 2004, to address the state’s high incarceration and recidivism rates, legislation was enacted requiring all state correctional facilities to provide 100 Hours of Life Skills to offenders. Through RBF’s initiative, we began providing elements of these life skills that included parenting, financial management and communication skills. In 2009, our key staff and volunteers were trained in the Bridges Out of Poverty philosophy as well as becoming Getting Ahead facilitators and we began implementing the program in two Louisiana state correctional facilities – the first of its kind in Louisiana. To date, RBF has more than 130 graduates of Getting Ahead and has seen several of these graduates go home and become very successful citizens – or as we like to say – moving incarcerated individuals from “Tax Burdens” to “Tax Payers.” In 2010, RBF piloted the R Rules in a special segregated Youthful Offender Program for juveniles sentenced as adults that is operated within an adult male facility. The pilot was very successful with the eight participants going on to complete their GEDs, obtain a trade and exit well equipped to assimilate into the adult population.
We are thrilled to be creating this reentry program and will keep you posted about the project.
–Elain Ellerbe, President and CEO, Refined By Fire Ministries, Inc.