Take Control of Your Money

Take Control of Your Money

Annuity.org’s objective is to deliver the most comprehensive explanation of annuities and financial literacy topics using plain, straightforward language. We dissect annuities and structured settlements so you, the reader, can understand how these products fit into your financial plan. And for readers who wish to sell their payments, we present an impartial explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of selling payments.

We at Annuity.org want our readers to have the tools needed to make educated choices about their financial future, based on well-researched, accurate and current resources.

Take Control of Your Money

Take Control of Your Money

Take Control of Your Money

Take Control of Your Money

 

Annuity.org’s objective is to deliver the most comprehensive explanation of annuities and financial literacy topics using plain, straightforward language. We dissect annuities and structured settlements so you, the reader, can understand how these products fit into your financial plan. And for readers who wish to sell their payments, we present an impartial explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of selling payments.

We at Annuity.org want our readers to have the tools needed to make educated choices about their financial future, based on well-researched, accurate and current resources.

Take Control of Your Money

Take Control of Your Money

 

Annuity.org’s objective is to deliver the most comprehensive explanation of annuities and financial literacy topics using plain, straightforward language. We dissect annuities and structured settlements so you, the reader, can understand how these products fit into your financial plan. And for readers who wish to sell their payments, we present an impartial explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of selling payments.

We at Annuity.org want our readers to have the tools needed to make educated choices about their financial future, based on well-researched, accurate and current resources.

Take Control of Your Money

Take Control of Your Money

 

Annuity.org’s objective is to deliver the most comprehensive explanation of annuities and financial literacy topics using plain, straightforward language. We dissect annuities and structured settlements so you, the reader, can understand how these products fit into your financial plan. And for readers who wish to sell their payments, we present an impartial explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of selling payments.

We at Annuity.org want our readers to have the tools needed to make educated choices about their financial future, based on well-researched, accurate and current resources.

Take Control of Your Money

Take Control of Your Money

 

Annuity.org’s objective is to deliver the most comprehensive explanation of annuities and financial literacy topics using plain, straightforward language. We dissect annuities and structured settlements so you, the reader, can understand how these products fit into your financial plan. And for readers who wish to sell their payments, we present an impartial explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of selling payments.

We at Annuity.org want our readers to have the tools needed to make educated choices about their financial future, based on well-researched, accurate and current resources.


Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

After I moved “across the street” from the dark prison block of the medium/maximum side to the single fenced Minimum facility, I received at letter from a paroled bunkmate describing a downhill bike ride. It was the first time in years she went faster than a walk. My heart fluttered in a flash of fear. Then I saw me on the bike, out of control, picking up speed. All at once, I am in a pale blue car with large windows. It is unlike any car I have been in. I am riding in the passenger seat. We are going faster, too fast. I feel my throat close, dread. There is an impact. The car is flying through the air, twisting to my side. I am about to land. I snapped out of the vision. My knees buckled and I sat abruptly on my bunk.  Back in the Saddle

Then I realized and said out loud, “I am terrified to ride in a car. Absolutely terrified. What am I gonna do?” Then it dawned on me. I held my cheeks in both hands. I hadn’t ridden with Haley. She learned to drive in Southern California. I’ll probably freak-out on the ride out of prison. I pictured myself hanging out of the car that is literally driving me to freedom and waving my arms, hollering for help. Seven years later and no memories of the accident but every time I rode in a car or prison van, my body remembered it. 

I worked in the maintenance department in the Minimum side. Each Monday morning, we gave Big Buck, our boss, the weekend update. When it was my turn, I talked about my terror of riding in a car again. 

“Sounds like you need to get back on the horse,” said Big Buck. 

I nodded, but couldn’t imagine it. 

Back in the Saddle
photo by Annie Spratt

The next day, my work partner, Kalik, and I were landscaping at the back of the compound. We were pulling hoses and creating drainage troughs, when the female Crew Boss approached. She was about my age but looked a whole lot better. She was fit and tan. She wore her silver hair short and stylish. Kalik and I stopped working and turned toward her. As she approached we could see that her blue eyes were dancing with mischief. 

“I heard that a part of your rehabilitation might be preparing to ride in a car again.

“Who told you that?” I laughed.

“A little bird.” 

“How about a ride in one of our carts?” She poked her thumb over her shoulder at a golf cart with a shovel in the back.

“Look at that, Kalik,” I nodded to the car, “wheels and speed.” I walked over to the cart and looked at the saggy driver’s seat and the well-worn pedals. I took a step back and looked at the golf cart from the side. The beast might have been tamed but my stomach said whiplash!

“I dunno. I’m scared, Ma’am.” 

She looked at The Kalik. 

“Do you want to drive?” 

“Oh sure!” said Kalik, the cowgirl. She hitched up her jeans from the yard work, turned to me and said, “Let’s ride!” 

Crew Boss smiled, tickled with herself. I looked at her wide-eyed. 

“Go on,” she gestured with a wave of her arm. “Give it a spin.” The yard was closed and the sloping hill of grass were ours. We climbed in.

I drew a breath. Not at all sure, I grabbed the sidebar and the dash, “Okay.”  

The Kalik nodded her head, all business, and we lurched away toward the wide-open prairie. My tender bones rattled with the bumps. Kalik drove like a cowgirl. I whooped and hung on. The wind was in my face, my hair plastered back. I smiled so hard, my lips stuck to my teeth. Kalik went as fast as she could, just shy of ripping up the sparse lawn. I dared to look around at the scenery. I forgot to be afraid. 

Then she stopped. “Your turn.” 

I looked back at the Crew Boss and motioned, may I? She nodded and held up her hands, as in, that was the whole idea. 

Respectfully, I tested the brakes. I wiggled the steering wheel left and right. Inhale, exhale. I looked over at The Kalik, who was red-cheeked and pleased. 

“When all this is settled,” I told her, “one day, I’ll have to drive. I will have to get myself to work and get to my family. I don’t want people to have to drive me around. I need to do this.” I stepped on the peddle. We lurched and stalled, our necks snapped back. “Sorry, nervous, I guess.” 

Kalik wrapped her hands around the back of her neck, “Let ‘er buck!”

We turtled along, feeling every bump. Then I stepped on the gas and we moved onto a trot. The peddle was only half-way down but I felt safe and in control. 

I pulled up to the sidewalk like a driver’s ed student. “Mission accomplished.” I was smiling, not shaking. We walked over to the Crew Boss, who was smiling with laugh lines around her blue, blue eyes.

I fought back tears of gratitude. I didn’t want to embarrass her. “You and Big Buck did a grand thing today, Ma’am. Thank you so much.” I stood up and patted the hood of the cart. Their gesture was more than corrections. It was a restoration. Another piece of the release from prison puzzle was in place.

Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle


Symbols can help us and haunt us

Symbols can help us and haunt us

Symbols can help us and haunt us

Symbols come and go. Symbols can inspire us and haunt us. Maybe they have power over our memories because they live in the body as senses. 

I had been out of prison for about a year and a half. I was beginning to lose the shuck and jive of an over apologetic felon. The Ex-Con stamp on my head was fading. There were days I did not think about prison at all. But I was still adjusting to being treated with kindness and courtesy by strangers. In a simple human encounter with a waitress, she looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you.”

I stammered out a rusty “Your welcome.”

Symbols can help us and haunt us
Shower Sandals

There were many small things about reentry that awakened memories of prison purposely forgotten and buried. One day at Rite-Aid I saw the plastic sandals I wore in prison. In a flashback, I heard the echo slap in the tomb-like corridor and felt my callused pinched toes grip the slick plastic sandals. I felt Intake-sick all over again. The shame and dread are written on the body and the darkness forces you to relive the horror that it actually happened.

“Excuse me,” a woman’s voice resuscitates me in the shoe section of Rite Aid. She is smiling at me apologetically for her full moon, pregnant belly as she tries to pass.

“Oh! Sorry.” I leaned toward the shelves of miserable sandals. But life pulled me forward.

“Thank you,” she said smiling as she passed.

“You’re welcome!” I nearly shouted as I bubbled back to the present day.

Symbols can help us and haunt us

Symbols can help us and haunt us


While We Breathe We have Hope

While We Breathe We have Hope

While We Breathe We have Hope

Three years into my six-year sentence at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon, Barak Obama was elected President of the United States. I watched the election results and the acceptance speech sitting in a packed dayroom of my unit. The crowd was a cross-section of races, ages, and backgrounds. Together we watched as a father, a husband, a trustworthy leader promised change.

While We Breathe We have Hope

 

“While we breathe, we have hope…We can not turn back…Yes, we can.” 

We sat out of order: Black, Latino, White, Native American. Yes, we were inmates that broke the law but we were still Americans, hoping for change. A black woman sat next to me sat with her hands over her face, tears streaming down,  

“This is a new day. Never did I think, in my time,” she held up her hand, “Here is your beacon Lord, praise you, praise you.”

I looked over at the skin-head section. They were leaning over the short wall and glaring at the celebration. My heart was so full, I blessed them. Touch them, God. 

The officer on duty was a gay woman, near my age. She stood behind us in an official at-ease position for the cameras but did not hide the tears as they streamed down her cheeks. 

Barak Obama, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Cesar Chavez point the way for the next generation of leaders to guide us forward. Yes, we can. 

President Obama Acceptance Speech 2008

While We Breathe We have Hope

While We Breathe We have Hope


The Risk of COVID-19 While Incarcerated Karen Campbell Write

The Risk of COVID-19 While Incarcerated

The Risk of COVID-19 While Incarcerated

I am worried about the women I met in Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and how they are coping with COVID-19. My favorite cellmate, Sinful used to say, there are worse things than going to prison. You could get sick and die in prison.  The Risk of COVID-19 While Incarcerated

The Risk of COVID-19 While Incarcerated Karen Campbell WritesStudies in Oregon, where I served my sentence, have shown that Oregon has one of the largest senior inmate populations in the US and has higher rates of health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and cardiac conditions.

Correctional Health Care is understaffed. The prison I was housed, holds approximately 2,000 inmates. In any prison, the inmate population is serviced by a skeleton crew of health care workers. We  used to call the triage nurse a bouncer because if you want an appointment there better be blood. Now they are inundated.

Corrections staff members are constantly reading the latest updates, first thing in the morning and before they go to bed at night. Already, the toll from the virus has forced staff to work double shifts.

The NPR interview of Corrections staff  at Oakdale Correctional Facility in Louisiana by Ryan Lucas described the working conditions:

My biggest fear is catching the virus and taking it home to my wife and three teenage kids.  I do

what I can to try to prevent that. When I get home every day, I kick my boots off outside and spray them with Lysol. I strip down in the utility room and throw my clothes directly into the washing machine and then run straight into the shower. The virus doesn’t care if you’re prison staff or an inmate. That’s just the dangerous nature of what Oakdale dealing with.

Oh, I absolutely believe I have been exposed. I believe it would be safe to say that 80% of the staff out there have been exposed.

 

I asked a staff member of Oregon correction, who requested to remain anonymous: Is your job worth it?

I have about three more years until I retire. Will I die before I get the chance to retire? Will I ever get to take the trip I’ve been planning or spend time with my grandkids? It’s not the inmate’s fault. I chose this career. But I ask myself everyday, why am I risking my life for this job? I don’t see anyone in our driveway honking their horns and sending thank-you food boxes. We’re the lost first responders.

Human beings are hardwired to interact with others, especially during times of stress. The inmates want connection not just with other inmates but with their family or friends. They are isolated from loving emotional support. Many have tragic histories of domestic violence and abuse and do not have the coping skills to manage the stress of the Coronavirus.

We can’t distance, can’t see family, no comfort measures such as warm broth. We can not buy cough drops or cough syrup. I don’t have a life sentence. I don’t want to die in here.-Female Inmate, Oregon

What if the inmate is innocent until proven guilty?

This is a desecration of the presumption of innocence-forcing people to dwell in the certainty of infection, in the possibility of death, when viable alternatives exist. -Jackson County female jail inmate. Nick Morgan Mail Tribune.

It is in these moments that people lose hope:

I doing my best to turn my life around. There is an art to surviving prison in the best shape possible. I found that if I could be conscious of my choices and emotions, I make healthy choices for myself. But the Coronavirus makes it all seem futile.-Female inmate, Oregon

I talked to my neighbor without telling her about my history. What she said did not surprise me:

They broke the law. They deserve to be punished. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time is what I say. We don’t have the money or resources for normal people. One less mouth to feed.

This is what I believe: Holding them accountable does not mean putting them to death.

Photos by engin akyurt on Unsplash

The Risk of COVID-19 While Incarcerated

The Risk of COVID-19 While Incarcerated


Prairie Home Companion Poem The Race

Prairie Home Companion Poem The Race

Prairie Home Companion Poem The Race

It is National Poetry Month. This month I would like to honor the poet Sharon Olds with her poem called The Race. I heard this poem while walking the prison yard, listening to NPR’s Prairie Home Companion Show. The poem spoke for me and my yearning to be free while my father was still alive.  Prairie Home Companion Poem The Race

My father lived five hours away and did not visit often. When I first saw him in the visiting room, despite his natty attire, he looked diminished. He stood on his second attempt and I hugged gristle and bones. There was more space around the edge of his collar. He smiled with tears. Sam needed me to survive and much as I needed him to live, at least, until I was free. Please God, let him live until I am free.

 

Prairie Home Companion Poem The Race
Karen’s father, Sam


The Race 

by Sharon Olds

When I got to the airport I rushed up to the desk,
bought a ticket, ten minutes later
they told me the flight was cancelled, the doctors
had said my father would not live through the night
and the flight was cancelled. A young man
with a dark brown moustache told me
another airline had a nonstop
leaving in seven minutes. See that
elevator over there, well go
down to the first floor, make a right, you’ll
see a yellow bus, get off at the
second Pan Am terminal, I
ran, I who have no sense of direction
raced exactly where he’d told me, a fish
slipping upstream deftly against
the flow of the river. I jumped off that bus with those
bags I had thrown everything into
in five minutes, and ran, the bags
wagged me from side to side as if
to prove I was under the claims of the material,
I ran up to a man with a flower on his breast,
I who always go to the end of the line, I said
Help me. He looked at my ticket, he said
Make a left and then a right, go up the moving stairs and then
run. I lumbered up the moving stairs,
at the top I saw the corridor,
and then I took a deep breath, I said
goodbye to my body, goodbye to comfort,
I used my legs and heart as if I would
gladly use them up for this,
to touch him again in this life. I ran, and the
bags banged against me, wheeled and coursed
in skewed orbits, I have seen pictures of
women running, their belongings tied
in scarves grasped in their fists, I blessed my
long legs he gave me, my strong
heart I abandoned to its own purpose,
I ran to Gate 17 and they were
just lifting the thick white
lozenge of the door to fit it into
the socket of the plane. Like the one who is not
too rich, I turned sideways and
slipped through the needle’s eye, and then
I walked down the aisle toward my father. The jet
was full, and people’s hair was shining, they were
smiling, the interior of the plane was filled with a
mist of gold endorphin light,
I wept as people weep when they enter heaven,
in massive relief. We lifted up
gently from one tip of the continent
and did not stop until we set down lightly on the
other edge, I walked into his room
and watched his chest rise slowly
and sink again, all night
I watched him breathe.

Sharon Olds from The Father (Knopf,1992)

Prairie Home Companion Poem The Race

Prairie Home Companion Poem The Race


Living Yoga Classes in Prison

Living Yoga Classes in Prison

Living Yoga Classes in Prison

In the ear breaking noise of a women’s full custody prison unit, I noticed that the women inmates who went regularly to the Living Yoga Classes moved through the units tall and poised. I wanted in.

Living Yoga Classes in PrisonFinally, after six months in prison, I earned clear conduct and was eligible for the class. The teachers from Living Yoga went into the darkest places to teach: prisons, rehab centers, jails, and juvenile detention centers.  They wore colorful soft clothing and moved with ease as physical examples of good living. They greeted us with a smile and looked us in the eye without fear. Within that dark place, they radiated light from the inside out. I soaked up their presence like I was standing before the sun. 

At first, it was hard to be peaceful in my poses. With the teachers’ guidance, I began to concentrate on the breath and not the chatter in my head. I imitated the teacher sitting on the mat, eyes closed, her hands resting on her knees,

“Relax your shoulders and let the quiet come into your heart. Let go of where you came from today or where you would rather be. Let quiet settle over you.” Can I really let go? Will I be O.K.? In their safety, I opened the door.


Yogathon invites folk near and far to come together in support of Living Yoga’s trauma-informed yoga programs. Every year, for the entire month of April, hundreds of people come together to raise the crucial funds that support Living Yoga’s work. You can expect daily benefit classes held at partnering yoga studios, educational events, social gatherings, and individual fundraising to promote the many physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of yoga, while working to make these benefits equitably accessible to all.

To learn more and to participate, click here or on the photo below!

Living Yoga Classes in Prison

Living Yoga Classes in Prison


The Northwest Regional Re-entry Center

The Northwest Regional Re-entry Center

The Northwest Regional Re-entry Center

The Northwest Regional Re-entry Center (NWRRC) helps offenders make a safe and successful transition from prison to their communities. Working together with the Bureau of Prisons, United States Probation and Pretrial Services, and other community agencies, we serve up to 125 men and women in a transitional supervised environment. While in our program, these individuals are working to gain suitable employment, secure housing, and reunite with family.

Securing employment, an appropriate residence, and adequate mentoring support is essential to reducing recidivism and strengthening our communities.

History & Mission

In 1976, Walter Evans, Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the District of Oregon, located a residence in S.E. Portland that had been incorporated in 1964 by the Greater Portland Council of Churches for offenders but which later had been abandoned. In 1966 the Council obtained the current 501(c)3 private non-profit organizational status. Seeing the need for residential correctional services for federal offenders, he established a new Board of Directors to meet this need and found funding to purchase the residence. The original Bylaws of the Council established in January 1970 and amended in March 1976 allowing Chief Evans and the Board to appoint a Director to develop this new program called the “Oregon Halfway House” which then in June 1976 contracted with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  In 2005, the Board expanded its services from the original 15 bed program by relocating to a 150 bed capacity, 40,000 square foot facility located in Northeast Portland where we are currently located. The organization legally changed its name from “Oregon Halfway House” to Northwest Regional Re-entry Center (NWRRC) in January 2011.

NWRRC has balanced the needs of offenders and public safety concerns successfully since 1976. NWRRC has continued to expand its programming for offenders throughout the years and is proud of its successful heritage. While we are proud of our efforts to assist offenders, we are equally proud of our successful role in protecting the community through positive behavioral changes of residents, holding them accountable to our program rules and regulations, and an active role in collaborating with enforcement of law.

NWRRC’s mission is to support, educate and encourage our residents, while they do the work necessary, to develop and implement an Individualized Program Plan that guides them in the successful transition back into their communities/families including finding employment and housing, without reoffending. We are also committed to assuring constant supervision, providing structure for accountability and as a result protecting the community.

Northwest Regional Re-Entry Center is committed to assisting transitioning offenders by providing services and referrals. In partnership with community agencies, NWRRC provides services including, but not limited to:

  • Complete case management
  • Employment placement assistance and resources, including portfolio and skills development
  • Chemical dependency counseling, including drug and alcohol testing
  • In house mental health counseling, referrals, and medication monitoring
  • On-site AA/NA/Seeking Safety programs
  • Rent Well tenant education program
  • Release residence assistance
  • Community programming referrals for Anger Management, Domestic Violence classes, etc.
  • Electronic monitoring

All individuals placed at NWRRC will have a minimum 72 business hour orientation period upon arrival. This time allows for residents to familiarize themselves with the facility, thoroughly review the Resident Handbook, acclimate to the new environment and people, and participate in Security, Case Management, and Employment Orientations as well as other mandatory meetings with the Directors and the Mental Health Counselor.

 Volunteers

NWRRC is always in need of volunteers as both interns and program volunteers. We are also currently working on developing a new volunteer mentor program for our residents. NWRRC is committed to a professional and supportive relationship between the organization and its volunteer staff. NWRRC recruits and assigns volunteers on the basis of applicants’ relative knowledge, skills, and abilities as well as our current organizational needs. Past volunteer opportunities have included: Administrative Volunteer/Intern, Case Management Volunteer/Intern, Resource Room Intern, and NA and/or AA Group Facilitator. Future opportunities will include peer and faith based mentoring with our residents.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, including becoming a Mentor, please contact us at info@nw-rrc.org.

 

Types of Placement at NWRRC

NWRRC houses offenders serving different stages of their federal sentence. Offender status determines the type of programming they will participate in:

Pretrial residents are individuals considered to be a minimal risk to the community, but are pending trial and/or sentencing.

Pre-Release residents are individuals currently serving a federal sentence with the Bureau of Prisons. These offenders are releasing from prison to NWRRC with the purpose of establishing employment, housing, and other community necessities. Once gainfully employed, most Pre- Release residents advance through a level system that permits them to take weekend passes to approved residences and eventually participate in the Home Confinement program. Residents on Home Confinement live at home while being supervised by NWRRC via an electronic ankle monitor. Home Confinement is often the final level prior to release from custody and is achieved by successfully participating in the NWRRC program.

Public Law residents are individuals currently on Federal probation or parole. These offenders are at NWRRC typically as a punitive placement due to a supervision violation, or are placed at NWRRC for the purpose of stability due to a job loss or housing displacement. They are generally only approved for work-release and programming purposes.

Direct Court placements are an option used by the US Courts to sentence offenders directly to NWRRC.

Mural painted by a former resident

Mercy Corp Launched Lifelong Education for Entrepreneurs

Mercy Corp Launched Lifelong Education for Entrepreneurs

Mercy Corp Launched Lifelong Education for Entrepreneurs

From Mercy Corp Northwest

Mercy Corp Launched Lifelong Education for Entrepreneurs

In 2007, MCNW launched Lifelong Education for Entrepreneurs (LIFE) at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) in Wilsonville, OR.  Mercy Corp Launched Lifelong Education for Entrepreneurs

The LIFE prison reentry program reduces recidivism up to 50%; building resiliency and establishing self-sufficiency and economic stability for incarcerated individuals and their families.

A Volunteer’s Chance to Make a Difference Behind Bars

LIFE Inside, Entrepreneurship Training for Incarcerated People

This 32 weeks of accredited training empowers participants to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and leverages the potential of self-employment promote resilience, and economic stability. Currently serving women at Oregon’s only women’s prison, Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, with hopes of expansion to a men’s facility, the LIFE Inside class provides business planning and training that promotes:

  • Job creation and economic self-sufficiency
  • Reduces reliance on social welfare programs
  • Prevents further criminal activity
  • Most of all, it betters the lives of these individuals, their families and communities.

When women graduate from this program, they are equipped with an amended business plan, transition plan, certificate of achievement, two versions of their resume and three credits attributed to their college transcripts.

“This program encouraged me to reach my potential. The experience was of self discovery, accountability, and self discipline. I learned to set goals, use resources and hold myself to a standard that provided me with a sense of worth and accomplishment.”

– LIFE Graduate, June 2018

The classes are delivered by MCNW staff with help from community experts and volunteers. Students are taught small business development topics such as profit and loss projections, legal organization, break-even analysis and marketing as well life skills such as effective communication, conflict management, goal planning and time management.

“This program presents the inner workings of how to make a business plan. It’s a step-by-step guide that is comprehensive, objective and related specifically to each individual. I gratefully say that it  has changed and organized my life- the transition plan is a complete game changer. I have a concrete plan of how, when and where I’ll reach my goals and pave the way to start my business plan. I even know how to talk to an employer about the gap in my work history and my criminal record. This LIFE Program wins!”

– LIFE Graduate, June 2018

LIFE Outside, Support for a Successful Reentry Back into Society

In the very beginning of its life cycle, the LIFE Outside project hopes to pilot a social enterprise that creates change in our community generates sustaining revenue to the LIFE Program. We hope to create an innovative, groundbreaking, response to the needs of individuals who have been recently released from prison. This initiative is both a response to the loss of the Mercy Corps Northwest Reentry Transition Center and to the growing prison population in Oregon. The RTC served many who were recently released from prison via a peer led and supportive model. Our hope is to continue to offer services to recently released individuals. It is important to our team that our response to this growing crisis is innovative and creates lasting change in the lives of the people we serve, therefore creating change in the local community, families, and the region at large. The dream is this: a social enterprise that employs LIFE Inside graduates, offers supportive management, incentivises education, and is a launching pad to the greater employment market.

The LIFE program also incorporates bridging services to allow participants to meet 1:1 with a qualified professional both pre and post release. During these meetings staff and participants work together to create a realistic and practical transition plan.

  • Pre-Release – Identifies gaps and gives individualized feedback on the student’s transition plan, offers county-specific resource information and provides assistance in navigating and accessing primary medical care, mental health, and addictions treatment, and delivers practical support related to problem-solving, stress-management, action planning, and communication skills.
  • Post-release – Gives in-person or phone-based counseling and emotional support, as well as referrals to medical/mental health care, housing, A&D support, and other re-entry services.

Along with coursework and mentoring support of the LIFE Inside class, MCNW offers an innovative matched savings program that encourages both the fiscal discipline of saving toward a goal, and the development of resources for successful reentry. Students must demonstrate consistent attendance, complete homework, create and execute a savings plan based on their current earnings and needs, and complete both a transition plan and a business plan. Once they have filled these requirements, the students are eligible for a $500 grant for transition needs upon release.

“The LIFE Program gives us hope for a better life. Not only hope, but the tools and confidence to follow through with our dreams and goals. This program changes lives. It will break the cycle of incarceration and addiction for those of us that take it seriously. This program is helping me have a second chance at life.”

– LIFE Graduate, June 2018

LIFE has been recognized on a national level for its one-of-kind approach to weave together entrepreneurial, life skills, and reentry planning as a solution for reducing recidivism and ending mass incarceration. Specifically, in 2017, the LIFE program was highlighted in policy paper published by The Aspen Institute, an internationally recognized educational and policy studies organization, entitled Prison to Proprietorship.


A Volunteer's Chance to Make a Difference Behind Bars

A Volunteer's Chance to Make a Difference Behind Bars

From Prison Fellowship

A Volunteer's Chance to Make a Difference Behind Bars

Founded in 1976, Prison Fellowship® exists to serve all those affected by crime and incarceration, and to see lives and communities restored in and out of prison—one transformed life at a time.  A Volunteer’s Chance to Make a Difference Behind Bars

A single mom of two, Monica has a packed schedule. There are many other places she could be, besides a maximum-security men’s prison. But for her, this work is deeply personal.