The Criminal Justice Reform Movement is On It's Way to Making History
There is no doubt that the price tag on imprisonment is a burden on the American taxpayers. This burden began with the mass incarceration craze of the late 1980's. Likewise, it is a well known reality that, a major portion of ex-prisoners re-offend and return to prison soon after their release. Some of the most recent statistics are published in the FAIR SHAKE resource guide, www.fairshake.net, which shows a shocking 76.6% recidivism rate within five years of release. This means that true prison reform should include a high level of reentry planning in an effort to stop the revolving door to the prisons. If American taxpayers want to ease the multi-billion dollar burden of mass incarceration they must consider ways to stop the leak before filling the tax dollar bucket, yet again this year.
It's time to consider that the government can't fix everything for us. In some situations we must take a stand against the problems that we face as individuals, and as communities. It's time for Americans to ask themselves why their loved ones are returning to prison, rather than becoming productive members of their communities. The answer to this problem, just as with so many others, is a failure to plan. Failing to plan for life outside of prison, is a plan to return to prison. Unfortunately, reentry resources that are available to those who are incarcerated are in scarce supply.
There is no question that a number of businesses, non profit corporations, and religious organizations have started to address the issue of recidivism by providing reentry resources. But there is still a large number of prisoners who have no access to those available resources. Although many people have recognized resource availability as a major problem, few have reached for a solution. Only in the last decade has the problem of resource distribution been addressed. Two companies, however, have been recognized by prisoners as leaders that strive to answer the call.
Freebird Publishers in North Dighton, Massachusetts and FAIR SHAKE in Westby, Wisconsin have stepped up to make a difference. These two companies are vastly different in their approach and structure, but both are dedicated to providing prisoners with the resources necessary to disconnect from their previous life of incarceration.
One prisoner, who recently discovered his own purpose, used the guidance that he gained from Freebird Publishers and the opportunity offered by FAIR SHAKE to engineer his own successful future.
Upon entering prison in 2012, Kelly Patrick Riggs was unguided and angry. His life was put on hold and he was separated from his children for the better part of a decade. He had difficulty expressing himself due to his limited education, but yet he engaged in an unguided tirade, through letters and court filings, for the first four years; to no avail. It wasn't until he met the CEO of Freebird Publishers (Diane) that he received guidance to become something better than he had ever dreamed of being. Through the long and painstaking efforts, of the staff at Freebird Publishers, Mr. Riggs was molded into the author and advocate that he is today.
By 2019, the First Step Act was suffering the growing pains of implementation, according to the Department of Justice staff and Kathleen Hawk-Sawyer. This news prompted an additional desire in Mr. Riggs. The desire to give back what he had received. In response he wrote his writer's guide that explained how he changed from a high school failure into a published author. Published by Freebird Publishers of course. Although the book, "How To Write Your Own Check", was made available through Amazon.com and other retailers; it didn't impact Mr. Riggs' heart the way he thought it would.
In the latter part of 2019, Mr. Riggs was introduced to Sue Kastensen, the founder and director of FAIR SHAKE. After
corresponding via email for a few months FAIR SHAKE offered Mr. Riggs an opportunity to shift in his life's direction a bit more. He decided to accept the offer, and has since written a prison edition to his writers guide. The new prison edition was provided to FAIR SHAKE for free distribution to prisoners who enjoy access to the FAIR SHAKE soft ware.
Upon his release, in 2020, Mr. Riggs will continue to write books for Freebird Publishers, volunteer for FAIR SHAKE, and provide guidance to his children and other Americans about the positive effects that reentry planning has on American communities.
For more information about turning an incarceration into a platform for success visit: www.freebirdpublishers.com .