As you know, San Francisco’s local public radio station 91.7 KALW (part of the NPR digital network) recently ran an incredible three-part series on reentry, featuring Root & Rebound’s very own Executive Director, Katherine Katcher!
The series follows the lives of two formerly incarcerated men over several months as they seek to find stable housing and employment and reunite with their loved ones. Katherine speaks powerfully about the obstacles people face as they return to their communities from prison and jail, the legal remedies available to them, and the great need for support during their transition. Here’s a snapshot of each episode (which you can find at http://kalw.org/term/reentry):
John Porter & William Bennett* have lived in transitional housing since they left prison several months ago, after serving 31 and 27 years respectively. After decades behind bars, both men are eager to move into their own apartments, but don’t have the resources. Eventually, William finds a job and his own apartment. He describes the feeling of having a room to himself for the first time since age 17: “Freedom. It felt real good, you know, to be able to come here and close the door and not have nobody here, you know. Solitude.” John, on the other hand, struggles to find employment and continues to live with roommates in the transitional home.Episode 2 – Two Men Seek Employment after their Release from Prison
After enrolling in job training and placement services, William Bennett lands his first job at age 51, working on the freeways to pick up trash. William and John worry about their futures; stable jobs that pay a fair wage do not come easy for former “lifers.” “One barrier is having a criminal record; another is just having many years of incarceration where you’re out of the job market,” says Katherine Katcher, Executive Director of Root & Rebound. “Even if people are involved in training . . . or educational programs inside of prison, when they get out, there’s a huge stigma against them.”
Episode 3 – Learning to Be a Father after Spending Half a Lifetime in Prison
William’s daughter, Brianna, was born while her father was locked up. He wrote to his daughter every week that he spent inside prison. When he was released after 31 years, Brianna was a 20-year-old woman, no longer a little girl. The father and daughter began the slow journey of rebuilding their relationship. William speaks honestly about how being a parent has motivated him: “I started feeling like I was doing the same thing [to Brianna that] my father was doing to me. I’m doing this to my life, and it’s affecting her. So I said, ‘Man, I can’t keep continue doing this.'”
*Please note that the names of formerly incarcerated men and their families have been changed to protect their identities.
Root & Rebound is immensely proud to have contributed to this radio series on reentry. We are thankful to KALW for hosting, and to reporter & producer Luisa Beck for raising awareness about the stories, barriers, and needs of people in reentry. This series highlights a few of the millions of voices that drive Root & Rebound’s legal advocacy in the Bay Area, throughout California, and beyond. We encourage you to share the series with your friends, colleagues, family, social media networks, and others interested in supporting second chances.
If you’d like to contribute to Root & Rebound’s work, donate and become a Founding Donor today!
– The R & R Team