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Friday, March 31, 2017

The Color of a Collar: Jeffrey Abramowitz's Road to Reentry


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The Color of a Collar: 
Jeffrey Abramowitz's 
Road to Reentry 
Jeffrey, a former Philadelphia lawyer, 
is dedicating his life to helping other 
returning citizens successfully 
re-enter society. He is a member of our 
White-Collar Support Group that meets
 online on Tuesday evenings. 
Jeffrey and I will be leading a workshop 
together on May 5th at the CMCA 
Summit in Philadelphia.
_____________
  
Jeffrey Abramowitz is starting to sleep under his covers again. He brushes his teeth with a decent toothbrush. He lays his head on a decent pillow. The faint clamor of keys clattering against a metal ring, however, sometimes keeps complete comfort at bay.
It’s been three years since he last heard them reverberate through United States Penitentiary, Canaan at night, but every now and then, on the brink of slumber, his subconscious will reproduce the sound like some sort of residual haunting, a reminder of the mistakes he made that landed him in Canaan in the first place.

He doesn’t necessarily need any more reminders of his past life. Abramowitz, a former Center City lawyer, was sentenced to five years in federal prison for embezzlement in 2012. That’s what his stubbly gray beard is from. It’s also why he works at Community Learning Center, where, as director of student services, he helps returning citizens obtain the resources and skills they need to successfully re-enter society.

Abramowitz has made sure he’s reminded of his mistakes every day since his release in September of 2015. Not that he’s had much of a choice.

“I lost everything as a result. I lost everything,” Abramowitz said. His career, his finances, his wife of 24 years — indeed, Abramowitz lost everything and everyone who mattered to him with the exception of his daughter, who’s currently living with him until college starts in the fall.

But putting his life back together didn’t just magically happen. His reentry experience began on the first day of his sentence.

“I needed to figure out why I made those mistakes and what I could do to make sure it never happened again,” he said.
He read over a thousand books. He learned how to operate a forklift. He taught GED classes. As the only Jewish inmate, he became “Switzerland” for disgruntled, factional peers.

He also learned that the color of his collar didn’t much matter. In USP Canaan, everyone wore the same green suit, ate the same shitty food and tried to sleep through the same sound of a prison guard’s keys as they clamored through the prison corridors.
 
“When you’re stripped of everything and go behind bars, you’re all the same,” Abramowitz said. “We were no different. Everybody is motivated by different things, but deep down, we’re all good people who need direction.”
Upon release, Abramowitz found Philadelphia’s halfway houses to discriminate even less.

“Every time you need to leave, you need a pass from a case worker. They’re hard to come by and are often the biggest barrier to individuals trying to get a job,” he said.
Abramowitz said he saw countless peers miss job interviews because they couldn’t get a pass to leave the halfway house in time.

At Community Learning Center, Abramowitz is working to make sure returning citizens have access to the resources they require to meet basic needs, obtain employment, provide for themselves and their families and escape the situational elements that lead to recidivism.
Those needs, Abramowitz said, are the same for all returning citizens.

“Most reentry-friendly employers are not hiring career professionals. I’m working with a few people in the medical profession who cannot go back into their field, can’t practice and are taking jobs at Walmart or Home Depot,” he said.

Returning citizens who served white collar sentences, he said, often struggle “just as much” with reentry as those who served sentences for street crimes — or, perhaps, in different ways.

In her 2016 book “Reexamining Reentry,” author and criminal justice professor Rolanda J. West makes the claim that “media sensationalization” of high-profile cases such as those of Martha Stewart and Bernie Madoff has created a stigma that white-collar offenders “will simply go home and proceed with their lives as usual, with prison a veritable blip on the radar” of their personal and professional lives.

Abramowitz said he left prison with a little over $28 to his name.

There are obvious disparities, though, between returning citizens such as Abramowitz and returning citizens who come from less-privileged backgrounds. If a lawyer had trouble navigating reentry, Abramowitz said, “tell me how someone who is uneducated is able to?”

Abramowitz’s experience with the criminal justice system isn’t news to those who have met him or heard him speak. He’s transparent about his past. It might be the most important educational tool in his toolbox.

“I can’t think of a time in my life that I’ve been happier,” he said. “I’ve found my calling.”

Reprinted from Generocity.org, March 27, 2017
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Friday, March 3, 2017

Press Release: Blue Oyster Cult and Alice Cooper Band Members to Play Benefit Concert for Family ReEntry on April 13th at FTC Warehouse, Fairfield




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for the Days Ahead
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Press Release: Blue Oyster Cult and 
Alice Cooper Band Members to Play 
Benefit Concert for Family ReEntry 
on April 13th at FTC Warehouse, Fairfield 





For Immediate Release:
Media Contact: Greg Walsh
Walsh Public Relations
305 Knowlton Street
Bridgeport, CT 06608
(203) 292-6280
________________

Bridgeport, CT - (March 3, 2017) - Quite a Coup!  Family ReEntry, a Bridgeport-based nonprofit that assists individuals and families impacted by the criminal justice system, today announced that its Spring Fundraising event will be a benefit concert starring Blue Coupe, a band formed by members of Blue Oyster Cult and the Alice Cooper band.

Featuring Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Dennis Dunaway, co-founder of the Alice Cooper band, and Joe & Albert Bouchard from Blue Oyster Cult, Blue Coupe will perform at The Warehouse at Fairfield Theater Company (FTC WAREHOUSE), on Thursday April 13th. The show starts at 6:30 and features a Special Performance Opening Act of teens and tweens from Fairfield's own School of Rock.

Tickets are now on sale through the FTC Box Office for the show. Blue Coupe will perform tracks from their upcoming new album as well as hits from Blue Oyster Cult and the Alice Cooper Band (Don't Fear the Reaper, Burning for You, Godzilla, School's Out, Billion Dollar Babies, No More Mr. Nice Guy).

Jeff Grant, Executive Director of Family ReEntry, stated, "We are thrilled and grateful that Blue Coupe will headline our Spring fundraising event. And we are overjoyed that the young musicians from the School of Rock will have the chance to open an official rock concert featuring legendary artists."


With the funds from this event, Family ReEntry will be able to expand its services and continue in its work advocating for justice reform and providing programs that restore dignity and renew families with criminal justice issues.


Grant is well aware of the difficulties that formerly incarcerated individuals can face; he served almost 14 months in Federal prison for a white-collar crime he committed in 2001 when he was a lawyer. Grant said. “As the first person in the country formerly incarcerated for a white-collar crime to be appointed as Executive Director of a major criminal justice nonprofit, I try to be a role model that there is hope after prison."


According to Fred Hodges, Family ReEntry’s Director of Community Affairs, “I owe Family ReEntry my fresh start after prison; I am deeply grateful for the faith and confidence they have in me.” “I pay it forward every day by helping others going through criminal justice difficulties.”


Purchase Tickets here!

Proceeds from the concert benefit, 


Family ReEntry, a
501c3 nonprofit founded in 1984 as a reentry support group for men at the Isaiah House in Bridgeport. It has since grown to include policy advocacy, and intervention, prevention, in-prison, reentry, fatherhood and youth & family programs. Over the past 33 years, effective advocacy efforts and community-based programs developed by Family ReEntry, have significantly reduced the likelihood that clients will re-offend, be re-arrested, or be re-incarcerated. Its programs provide a spectrum of services designed to disrupt the intergenerational cycle of incarceration. Family ReEntry addresses the specific needs of each client and their families through individualized case management and support services. It works to create a positive social network for each client, helping make their transition from prison back into the community a successful, self-sufficient one, while strengthening their families and the community. Family ReEntry operates its programs in strategic locations that encompass eight municipal regions and judicial geographic areas, two parole districts and five prisons. Approximately, sixty-percent of those served by Family ReEntry are from greater Bridgeport – Connecticut’s largest city.  The organization has offices in Bridgeport, Norwalk and New Haven, CT.  Programs are also held in Stamford, Waterbury, Derby, New London and Norwich, CT. More information is available at www.familyreentry.org and on its social media sites including, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

About Blue Coupe: Blue Coupe's multi-talented

entertainers include Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Dennis Dunaway bassist of the legendary Alice Cooper group, alongside multi-instrumentalist, Joe Bouchard who founded Blue Oyster Cult with his brother Albert Bouchard master of the drums. These revolutionary originals were the heartbeat of several of the best-known songs in the history of rock. And note for note, their full-throttle expertise hits you over the head and grabs you by the heart in Blue Coupe. The band has found continuing glory with their highly-acclaimed album, Tornado on The Tracks, which has multiple Grammy considerations in 2011 and 2012, including "Angel's Well" featuring Robby Krieger legendary guitarist for The Doors. And Blue Coupe continues to tour North America and Europe with such illustrious shows as the Halloween Parade in New York City where they were seen by more than a million people. Blue Coupe's second album, Million Miles More, features Alice Cooper, Tish and Snooky from Manic Panic, Ross the Boss from Manowar and the Dictators, Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult and Goldy McJohn from Steppenwolf as special guest stars. The album was mixed by Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, John Lennon, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, BOC) and Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray, James Blunt). The new single "Hallow's Grave" with vocals by Alice Cooper has been submitted for Grammy consideration.