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Prisoners Learn Communication Skills and Self-Expression as Tools for Rehabilitation

Today's atmosphere of criminal justice reform drives new legislation like The First Step Act, the invalidation of obscure criminal statutes, and the release of innocent prisoners. Some of the most meaningful steps to reform target educating the people most likely to become victims of the wayward system. Those victims include prisoners who are currently serving time and are likely to re-offend upon release, because they lack exposure to educational and therapeutic services.

As usual the state prisons lead the way in protecting American communities from crime. Many states have employed work release programs, real drug programs that actually work, and skills training that help prisoners navigate life after release.

A very popular national newspaper, USA Today, publishes a section called "State-By-State". In a recent issue a program employed by the state of Utah was highlighted.

At first glance the picture seemed ordinary, a white man and a black man seated in chairs facing each other. Only after a closer look is it discovered that they are seated in a basketball court and surrounded by men dressed in relatively similar clothing. They are in a prison. The caption under the picture reads:

"Jerome Johnson and Bob Kittell practice focusing attention on each other."

The article goes on the say that: "Inmates are learning to tell their stories through a speech club, bolstering communication skill that help them navigate life after release and teach others to avoid their mistakes. About 50 men are part of the New Vision Speech Club, which serves a state prison facility where inmates have demonstrated good behavior and want counseling, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The club uses a similar method to Toastmasters International, the public speaking club that teaches participants to express their points by telling a story. The techniques allow inmates to face situations like appearing before a parole board."

It's programs like this, that have been employed in the State of Utah, that help to fight crime. Those 50 inmates will get a real chance at re-entering society and becoming productive members. Unfortunately, those 50 inmates who enjoy this positive step in the right direction represent only a small fraction of the estimated 2.5 million American prisoners currently incarcerated.

The initiative of telling one's own story is an age-old therapeutic process. Even today, therapists encourage clients to express themselves through speech and writing. Some life's stories have been the product of the multi-billion dollar a yearbook publishing industry. Memoirs are published by companies like Merriam Press and McCormick Literary. And Freebird Publishers have made this process available to inmates since 2013. In their regular publication the "Inmate Shopper" Freebird Publishers provides Life Lessons, Advice on Writing for Readers, Public Speaking, and Tips For Re-Entry. Freebird Publishers has effectively provided the tools to, and has changed the lives of, prisoners like William J. Patterson and Kelly Patrick Riggs.

Mr. Riggs, who is currently scheduled for release from federal prison on June 9, 2020, accepted the opportunities that were offered to him by Freebird Publishers. He has since produced as many as four publications in a single year. He has most recently written and published a step-by-step guide to help others develop their own stories and become published authors. Mr. Riggs took what he learned from Freebird Publishers and shared it with the world in "How to Write Your Own Check".

Criminal justice reform and prisoner reform is nothing new. The caring staff at Freebird Publishers have been helping prisoners change their lives for years. For more information about changing the life of an American Prisoner visit:


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