The Book Club has helped me expand my mind in ways I thought wasn’t possible being as though I grew up in the public housing. To this day I’m still thankful for everything and I plan to show you all once I’m back into society. I have about 90 days until I’m able to re-enter society and share my story with teens growing up as I once did and that’s all thanks to Free Minds. So I want to take this time to say thank you to the entire Free Minds.
– Gary, age 22
While some Free Minds members receive lengthy sentences, the majority of Free Minds members serve between three and seven years before they return to the community. Building upon a sustained connection made in the Jail and Prison Book Club programs, Free Minds connects its recently released members to the resources and programs in the community that will help them achieve their educational and career goals.
In addition to our weekly Reentry Book Club sessions, Free Minds provides intensive, personalized support for our formerly incarcerated members. These services include, but are not limited to the following:
- Connections to job opportunities, vocational programs, and educational opportunities
- Job training and personal skill building workshops
- Individualized case management, coaching, and referrals to other service providers as needed
- Assistance with job applications, obtaining vital documents, and accessing public benefits
- A dedicated support group for recipients of the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA), a DC law allowing youths charged as adults to petition for resentencing after 15 years in prison
- A project designed to help members build credit history through access to secure credit lines and financial literacy education
- A member-led Black History Learning Group, which meets regularly to discuss topics such as the racial wealth gap, redlining, Jim Crow, the legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, and racial disparities in the criminal legal system
- Peer support: Free Minds members form an essential peer support network through group activities, and one-on-one peer check-ins
- Connections to further advocacy, leadership, and professional development opportunities
- The opportunity to participate in our On the Same Page program as Poet Ambassadors