Prisonist.org: Edited by Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Executive Director of Family ReEntry, serving the CT Criminal Justice Community & Co-Founder of Progressive Prison Ministries, the First Ministry in the U.S. Created to Support Individuals, Families & Organizations with White-Collar and Other Nonviolent Incarceration Issues.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Family ReEntry and Fairfield County LOOK Team to Bring Criminal Justice Awareness to Greenwich Polo on August 27th!








Family ReEntry and Fairfield County LOOK Team 
to Bring Criminal Justice Awareness to 
Greenwich Polo on August 27th
_____________


Sunday, August 27th, 1 - 5 pm
Greenwich Polo Club
One Hurlingham Drive, Greenwich, CT
TICKETS



Insider Q&A with Family ReEntry Executive Director Jeff Grant:




Insider: Polo and criminal justice seem like a very unlikely pairing. Can you explain the connection?
Jeff Grant: Family ReEntry has been serving the needs of Connecticut families suffering from criminal justice related issues for over thirty years. We have had tremendous support from Greenwich and other affluent communities, yet most people still don’t recognize that incarceration-related issues affect everybody regardless of zip code. Our goal in this family friendly event is to create awareness, raise support and have a great time.


I: Why Polo?
JG: Elaine Ubina (CEO of Fairfield County LOOK) is very progressive and saw things imaginatively in inviting us to participate in the LOOK VIP tent. Family ReEntry jumped at LOOK’s very kind offer to be the nonprofit partner for the polo event coming up on August 27th

I: What can guests expect in attending the Family ReEntry polo event on August 27th
JG: In a word: FUN! My wife Lynn Springer and I attended polo in the tent in early July and it was a wonderful, casual, comfortable experience done just right with great food, drinks, music, friends, families, children - and even dogs (well-behaved ones)! And we even got to “stomp the divots” after the first half. If guests have never been to polo they will be in for a surprise – it was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable afternoons we’ve spent in a long time. 

I: How can guests participate in your cause?
JG: First, join us on August 21st; a portion of proceeds from each ticket, table or front row lounge will be donated to Family ReEntry. But that’s just the start for people who want to get involved. We have opportunities to volunteer in one of our programs, be a mentor to a child whose parent is in prison, become an ambassador, attend an event to learn more about criminal justice issues - and of course we appreciate all donations

 
I: Why is this important now?
JG: Family ReEntry provides critical, cost-effective services in areas including mental health, substance abuse, family counseling, domestic violence, fatherhood, mentoring, housing, employment, etc. These programs help prevent people from going to prison. As well, we provide programs to help people returning from prison (and their families) so they are less likely to return to criminal behavior and/or return to prison. But Connecticut’s fiscal crisis has caused a state-wide cut back or termination of many of these essential services. That’s why more than ever we need to rely upon private, foundation and corporate contributions

FRI: Can anyone get tickets for the Family ReEntry/Look VIP Greenwich Polo tent?
JG: Of course. Admission to the LOOK VIP Tent includes food, drinks, music, shade, private restroom and special attractions, a portion of which is donated to Family ReEntry. It’s a family event – children and dogs are welcome! Ticket levels include VIP tickets ($200), Child VIP tickets ($50), group tables for ten ($4,000) and front row lounges for ten ($5000). All tickets can be purchased online here. 

FRI: When/where is the event?
JG: Greenwich Polo Club, Sunday, August 27th, 1 – 5 pm, One Hurlingham Drive, Greenwich, CT (head north from the Merritt Parkway North Street exit). 

FRI: How can we make a donation even if we can’t attend?
JG: Family ReEntry gratefully accepts donations on our website (familyreentry.org), or by check sent to: Family ReEntry, 75 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604. 

About Family ReEntry:
Family ReEntry is a 501c3 nonprofit, which was 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.

About Fairfield County LOOK: Fairfield County LOOK is a publishing and marketing firm specializing in event photography, strategic partnerships and media management in Fairfield County, Conn., and beyond. The readership is affluent and sophisticated, and our publications are designed to inform and entertain. Fairfield County LOOK, a luxury online magazine featuring many of the region’s premier events, articles on design, travel, real estate and more, and Greenwich LOOK, a luxury lifestyle magazine capturing countless fundraisers and fêtes organized by distinguished residents and nonprofits, and publishing original articles on fashion, travel, home design and in-depth interviews. In addition, Fairfield County Look’s creative team collaborates with businesses and individuals to bring visibility and growth to professionals through promotions, marketing materials and customized magazines. With our combined experience, we bring more than 40 years of web development, design, marketing and communications to the table—all working to achieve our clients’ goals. www.fairfieldcountylook.com 

About Greenwich Polo Club: Nestled in the beautiful backcountry of Connecticut, Greenwich Polo Club was established in 1981 and is recognized as one of the elite high-goal polo venues in the world, known for its unmatched roster of legendary teams, professional players, and champion equine athletes, fondly known as polo ponies. Distinguished families, young entrepreneurs, artists, and well-known personalities are all part of the international dynamic which makes Greenwich Polo Club so unique. Each match showcases eight players galloping on horseback across a 300-yard field at speeds of up to 35MPH. The club is home to the legendary White Birch polo team, one of the most successful in history, having won the most high-goal polo tournaments of any team over the course of the past 25 years, including the US Open Polo Championship in 2005. Each Spring players descend on Greenwich with their strings of champion horses to compete for one of polo’s most prestigious cups. Each Sunday match is attended by more than 2,000 spectators flocking from New York City, Fairfield and Westchester counties, to witness the highest caliber of polo while enjoying an afternoon with friends and family. The Greenwich Polo Club is located at 1 Hurlingham Drive in Greenwich, CT. More information is available at http://greenwichpoloclub.com/ 



Media Contact: Greg Walsh, Walsh Public Relations 
305 Knowlton Street, Bridgeport, CT 06608
Tel: 203-292-6280; E-Mail: greg@walshpr.com 




Monday, July 24, 2017

Family ReEntry Insider: Two Reflections on the Cheshire Tragedy






Two Reflections on the Cheshire Tragedy

Monday, July 24th, 2017
After my release in early summer of 2007 from a Federal prison (where I served almost fourteen months for a white-collar crime), I spent five weeks in a halfway house in Hartford that served both Federal and State of Connecticut clients.

I was released just two weeks before the Cheshire tragedy, an event that not only traumatized all in our state (including my family) but effectively shut down all Connecticut halfway house and parole releases for over six months. For good reason. The Cheshire murders called to attention deficiencies in the state system of release. These deficiencies were successfully addressed (in part) over the next decade by strengthening the system of community nonprofit partners that provided critical, effective wraparound services to those returning home so that they would be less likely to return to criminal behavior and return to prison. Unfortunately, due to the state fiscal crisis, many of these services have been cut back or terminated. The Governor and Department of Corrections are committed to enlightened, progressive criminal justice reform, but without adequate funding it is easy to see how their hands are in many ways tied. What we need are creative private-nonprofit-public partnerships to rethink, rebuild and fund our system of community corrections, and mental health and substance abuse programs, before there is even one more tragedy.

Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
Executive Director, Family ReEntry
Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwalk CT
The summer of 2007 was the most challenging of my professional career.

As the Director of the Department of Correction’s Parole and Community Services Division, I received the call from then Commissioner Theresa Lantz advising me that the two men charged with the Cheshire murders were under my Division’s supervision. Like all citizens of CT, I had been horrified that week to learn of the brutality that had been visited upon the Petit family.

As the father of young children at that time, I was also struck by the random nature of the crime, and the realization that even in my “safe” community, my family was equally vulnerable. I was then at the 27 year mark of a career in community corrections and proud of the role that it played in public safety. The shock of that crime was also met with the knowledge that I would be responsible to help ensure that crimes of that nature would not be repeated. For the next two years until my retirement, I kept a picture of the Petit family in my top right hand desk drawer; a constant and personal reminder of the stakes involved.

Within weeks of the Cheshire tragedy, men on parole were charged with several other high profile violent crimes, prompting then DOC Commissioner Theresa Lantz to suspend all further releases and to order a complete review of the Department’s community release, supervision and support services infrastructure. In addition to a renewed emphasis on inter-agency information sharing (neither the Parole Board nor supervising parole officers had complete prior arrest reports), and the increased use of new technologies (i.e. Global Positioning Systems), DOC reexamined the role of the parole officer, and reinvested in the tools and resources they needed to better perform their responsibilities. Chief among these concerns, was the recognition that evidence-based risk and needs assessments, and the intervention strategies that they would direct, would become an essential ingredient in addressing the complex behavioral health needs of offenders; needs that when left unaddressed, can substantially increase the likelihood of continued criminal behavior.

In the years that followed the Summer of 2007, CT made substantial investments, in partnership with our non-profit provider network, to streamline, expand and coordinate the number, type, and proficiency of services available to the reentry population. Those investments contributed, along with many other factors, to CT’s substantial reduction in its prison population (from over 20,000 in ‘07 to approximately 14,000 today).

Unfortunately, as a result of our budget situation, these programs have experienced severe reductions. Last year, DOC was forced to terminate contracts that provided essential mental health, substance abuse and employment services to men and women transitioning from incarceration to the community. This year, additional budget cuts have already forced some non-profits to shut their doors or roll back the services they provide. The inability to learn from our past failures and our past successes, will cost Connecticut not only in dollars, but in human misery.

Randy Braren
Director of Reentry Initiatives, Family ReEntry, Inc,
Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwalk, CT
Former Director, Parole and Community Services Division, Department of Correction, State of Connecticut
Family ReEntry’s mission is to develop, implement, and share sustainable, cost-effective solutions for the unprecedented numbers of people involved in the criminal justice system, which empower individuals, strengthen families, and build communities.

For more info please visit our website at familyreentry.org and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. All proceeds go to supporting these valuable programs.
Family ReEntry, Inc.  |  jeffgrant@familyreentry.org  |   501(c)3 Organization  |  203-290-0865