Progressive Prison Project
Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Dwight Dickerson, M.A.
Authenticity: Being truthful to oneself
and others is the key to maneuvering
through the reentry process
Dwight Dickerson, MA, Community Psychologist
President/CEO Tri-Cord LLC New Haven, CT
As there are as many days in the week, months in a year there are as many roads that lead to success each having their own bumps in the road, hills to climb and hurdles to overcome and for those of us like me, traveling upon these roads with the weight of a criminal record on our back, the journey to success become even more difficult to achieve. As I share my story, my hope is that I encourage and empower all who read it to embrace the challenge and do the work that needs to be done and refuse to allow anyone to underestimate you, undervalue you, marginalize you, and finally, dictate who and what you can become!
My journey to success did not begin after my release from jail but began when I was sitting in the holding cell waiting to be taken to prison in 1994. It was at that time I decided to make sure that I would do whatever I needed to do to assure that what behaviors and thought patterns that caused me to be sitting in that holding cell would never happen again and I also vowed that I would do whatever in my power to help empower others with the tools to be successful. So, while I was incarcerated I made a deliberate decision to participate in and finish all programs that addressed the areas in my life that needed to be addressed.
Upon my release in 1996 I began to implement a five step program that has yielded tremendous success for me and my family which I still live by today.
First, I chose to be authentic with myself foremost and everyone else that I allowed in my circle. By being honest with myself I realized that there were known and unknown unresolved issues, behaviors, thought patterns, emotions that I have been plagued with from childhood through adulthood that needed to be addressed. So for the next 8yrs I sought a qualified counselor that would help make me whole. Still, today, I have someone that I can turn to when times are warranted. I learned never be afraid to be truthful to yourself and others and never be afraid to seek out the help that you need. Authenticity is the essential key to maneuvering through the reentry process.
Secondly, I chose to be committed to do the work that needed to be done both on the inside and the outside. I made no excuses. While working on my issues with my counselor I was fully committed in doing whatever I had to do to show my love, respect, gratitude, appreciation for my family. Whatever was required of me by parole and probation, I was committed to do. I was committed to making sure that I walk the walk for sustainable change.
Thirdly, realizing that no man is an island and that success is a team effort. I developed a well established support network of people that would not be afraid to hold me accountable for my thoughts and actions, a network that is still in existence today. In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a community to help ex-offenders to transition back into the community and live successful lives.
Fourthly, I had a burning desire to better myself economically and educationally which led me in 1997 to find an entry level job as a machinist at a company in Madison, CT. which was the catalyst to me being hired in 2003 at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT were I am presently employed. While at Sikorsky I have had the opportunity to participate in their Employee Scholar Program that paid for my education allowing me to obtain my BA in sociology from Yale University in 2010 and my MA in Community Psychology in May of this year. It was in 2010 that my wife, daughter and I birthed Tri-Cord LLC an Empowerment Training Group, New Haven, CT dedicated to empowering the formerly incarcerated, their families and the community with the tools to be successful by offering evidence base life-skill workshops.
Finally, I took charge of my own destiny by refusing to allow society’s narrow mindedness to dictate what I can do and what I can become. For I am not defined by one event in my life for I am complicated for I am more than the sum total of my shortcomings.
For I am a:
- Musician (Pianist, Trumpeter)
- Yale College Alumni Volunteer
- Role Model
- Community Psychologist
- Church Member
- Pastoral Care Minister
- Prison Volunteer (VIP)
- Community Activist /
REENTRY SURVIVORS: Tell your success story. Your successful reentry from incarceration to being a contributing member of society can inspire others, change public attitudes, create more employment opportunities, provise encouragement and hope. Many in the process have also been granted pardons, putting their past records behind them.
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities