Slavery in America & Modern Day Racial Injustice

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Enslaved African children taken aboard HMS Daphne, November 1868. (The National Archives of the UK: ref. FO 84/1310 (b).) Photo from EJI’s Report: “Slavery in America: The Montgomery Slave Trade.”

This year, Equal Justice Initiative — a non-profit based in Montgomery, Alabama — put out an impressive report entitled “Slavery in America: The Montgomery Slave Trade.”  Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is a world-renowned organization that provides legal assistance to the poor, the incarcerated, the condemned, children prosecuted as adults in the criminal justice system, and communities marginalized by bias, discrimination, or poverty. We appreciate that EJI spent time putting together such a comprehensive and informative report on slavery in America and on reflecting on our past. While some might ask, “Why look back?,” we believe that in order to change our current state of mass incarceration and disenfranchisement, we must understand where our thoughts, beliefs, and laws come from, and how we developed as a nation. As EJI says in its report,

“Slavery in America traumatized and devastated millions of people. It created narratives about racial difference that still persist today. It also fostered bigotry and racial discrimination from which we have yet to fully recover. In learning more about slavery, we can learn more about ourselves, our past, and hopefully, our future. By strengthening our understanding of racial history, we can create a different, healthier discourse about race in America that can lead to new and more effective solutions.”

We cannot talk constructively about criminal justice reform, reentry, and progress toward social justice without first reflecting honestly on our nation’s past. There is no doubt that the United States, which incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation — with an increase in its jail and prison population from 200,000 to 2.3 million in the past 40 years — disproportionately incarcerates people of color. Nearly one out of every three American black men in their twenties is in jail or prison, on probation or parole, or otherwise under criminal justice control. Black men are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than white men.

So we encourage you to reflect on our past, no matter how much we might want to look away, and to think about how America’s Era of Slavery — which lasted more than 200 years and ended only 150 years ago with the Emancipation Proclamation — lives on today in the ways we criminalize, incarcerate, and punish, both inside and outside of prison walls.

For further reading, see EJI’s incredible interactive timeline, “A History of Racial Injustice: The Timeline.” Also check out EJI’s page on “Race and Poverty” and a great scholarly article written by Executive Director Bryan Stevenson on “Confronting Mass Imprisonment and Restoring Fairness to Collateral Review of Criminal Cases.

–The R&R Team

Gratitude

Today we feel so much gratitude. Gratitude, of course, for our families and friends, as we do each and every year on this day. This year is special, though, because it marks our first Thanksgiving since our launch less than 2 months ago (feels like much longer!). So, on our first Thanksgiving as Root & Rebound, we take this moment to reflect on the immense gratitude we feel to the community of formerly incarcerated advocates, reentry practitioners, academics, human rights activists, educators, and changemakers who have opened their doors to us in the last two months, and given us their time, energy and expertise—just because they believe in us and our work.

This has been the most overwhelmingly wonderful part of our work—seeing that people who, on paper, seem too successful, too busy, or too important to take the time to talk to the two of us, actually, after so many years, have so much passion for their work, for making the world a better place, that they never tire of encouraging others who are just entering this field, and giving them hope that they, too, can make a difference.

There have been many times in our lives, as I know is true for all of us, when we have come across people who refuse to help, who turn their backs when they are asked to do for others. These experiences can make us jaded and tired, can cause us to shut down and close off to the world (an experience we both had in law school). But the last two months have shown us that these people and these experiences are few and far between, and that there are so many wonderful people who light up with enthusiasm at the opportunity to get involved with yet another project.

These incredible people have made our program stronger, and by reaching back after walking through the doors of success, have enhanced our ability to do that for others. So thank you, thank you to everyone who has taken time out of their demanding jobs and busy schedules to lend us their advice and expertise.

We would especially like to thank our incredible founding Board of Directors and Advisory Board, people who have committed to continuing to be a part of our work. We could not do it without them, and we have great hope for the future of our organization because of them.

Our Board of Directors is currently made up of these wonderful folks:

Our Advisory Board is currently made up of these wonderful folks:

We are so incredibly grateful for your commitment and service.

Happy Holidays!

—The R & R Team

Wanted: A Sea Change in Sentencing Laws

A recent criminal case in Virginia has received a lot of press—as it should—because of the harsh sentencing of a 15-year-old boy, Travion Blount, who received six life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole for participating in an armed robbery. Travion’s sentence to six life sentences (118 years) without the possibility of parole is a death sentence behind bars. His only chance of leaving prison is through geriatric release at age 60, an unlikely possibility. No one would argue that this wasn’t a serious crime. No one would argue that a 15-year-old that points a gun at teenagers at a party shouldn’t be punished. But what happens next is up to us.

Sentencing laws are written by people… most of whom have law degrees. Those laws can be encouraged or discouraged by the general public. Here is one opportunity among many to sound off. Should Travion—a 15-year-old boy who committed a serious crime die behind bars?

Slowly but surely, our society is realizing that these extreme sentences do not reduce crime; instead they create mass incarceration of people of color in our country, lead to serious overcrowding in prison and jail, and waste precious lives and millions in resources on keeping people locked up. We have a long way to go in terms of creating a sea change around this issue, and making sure that people everywhere in this country are free from extremely harsh sentences. While some states have changed their harsh sentencing laws, people in this country suffer from “geographical justice,” meaning that where you do the crime defines your time.

Virginia is one of 11 states that still imposes life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles with non-homicide convictions. So two 15-year-olds with the same profile, the same crime, and the same circumstances will be treated and sentenced completely differently by the courts, depending on whether they live in California or Virginia. Is that justice?

At Root & Rebound, we believe in second chances, and we believe that every person should be treated as an individual, with the courts, the board of parole hearings, and other criminal justice bodies looking at their specific life circumstances and character. We take issue with living in a society where anyone is left to die behind bars, no matter their age or conviction. We believe that every life should be valued, and that the solution is not to lock the door, turn our backs, and throw away the key. The solution is to look in the mirror to examine what we, as a society, are doing wrong, and how we are failing our young people, our communities of color, and our citizens with disabilities and mental illness. To realize that we, as a Nation, have a public health epidemic—of violence. To take responsibility for some piece of every crime.

In talking and working with formerly incarcerated people, we spend a significant amount of time with individuals who have committed all types of crimes. Some that sound and are much more serious than Travion’s. We also see these same individuals, when given the chance, become active members in their communities, whether those communities are in jail or prison, or in their neighborhoods when they return to outside life.

Many of our formerly incarcerated colleagues (just a small number of whom we have featured on the blog here and here) take on more unpaid work in a year than most of us could ever imagine. They volunteer their time to support others reentering; they speak to community groups, universities, policymakers, and on various panels hoping to spread messages of hope and change the image of “who is a criminal.” They understand the problem of draconian sentencing laws and mass incarceration in our country from the inside out. They see other options for dealing with social problems. They collaborate with service providers like ours to get as much legal and social support to people leaving prison as possible. They help others give back just as they have. Not only are these individuals totally safe to live free and outside of prison, they are real assets to society, using their own experiences to make our world a much better and more compassionate place in which to live. And part of the reason why we started this blog was to highlight these incredible community members, and let their work and their lives tell the stories of redemption and second chances, and to change the minds and open the hearts of people who come across our blog.

The ACLU has published a report on people with life sentences without the possibility of parole—all who committed nonviolent offenses. The report shares a range of stories—a woman who carried drugs for her abusive boyfriend, a man who stole tools from a tool shed. All of these people were sentenced to die behind bars. To read more about Travion Blount and the devastating outcome in his case, visit the ACLU’s report here.

We hope after reading about Travion’s story and life without the possibility of parole, our readers will reflect on the ways we can change these laws and support the individuals and families affected by them. We welcome comments below. Please share your thoughts and join the dialogue.

—The R & R Team

Meet the Center for Community Alternatives & Deputy Director Josefina Bastidas

Above, a CCA participant and her daughter

Above, a CCA participant and her daughter.

Root & Rebound had an incredible meeting in NYC a couple of weeks back with Josefina Bastidas, Esq., Deputy Director for the New York City offices at the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) in downtown Brooklyn. Immediately upon walking through their office doors, we felt and were treated like CCA family. During our visit, Josefina introduced us to some of CCA’s social work clinicians, attorneys, program and service directors, administrative support staff, and mentors. Every person greeted us with kindness and support. CCA’s positive work culture and community impact radiated from every person we met.

CCA promotes reintegrative justice and a reduced reliance on incarceration through advocacy, direct services, and public policy development in pursuit of civil and human rights. CCA works with people who would otherwise be incarcerated—men, women, and youth—and provides an alternative to incarceration. In an average year, CCA successfully diverts 400 people from more costly incarceration and provides reentry services to roughly 500 individuals; in doing so, CCA’s programs reduce the collateral consequences of incarceration, strengthen families, and build safer communities.

The way it works is that courts actually sentence people to CCA programs instead of prison or jail time.  CCA provides these clients with client-specific planning, addiction recovery and treatment, family reunification, educational planning support, workforce readiness, social support, and policy advocacy. Another benefit of diversion programs at CCA is that, for every person mandated to CCA instead of incarceration, New York State taxpayers save at least the $32,000 in annual state prison costs. Even more savings accrue through reducing time in local jails or juvenile justice placements, which cost more than twice the amount of state prison.

Josefina—who provides the leadership and oversight for all services provided out of CCA’s New York City office—has an amazing professional history. She received her law degree from Santa Maria University and was a District Judge in her birth country, Venezuela. But after coming to the United States, she was relegated professionally to the bottom of the legal professional totem pole. From Josefina’s drive to rebuild her legal career in the U.S., she received her Master of Laws Degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Josefina not only rebuilt her professional life in the United States, but has also made it her life’s work to help people whose lives have been impacted by the criminal justice system and mentor young people who care about social justice and criminal justice reform. She is nothing short of inspirational.

R & R discussed with Josefina the challenges of starting a reentry legal services nonprofit, and how Root & Rebound could learn from CCA to build the strongest foundation possible for its work. Josefina described the vision of the founders of CCA and the growth behind its reentry services model. Josefina’s biggest piece of advice was to pick one area of narrow focus and to build from there. For example, she cited CCA’s early focus on sentence mediation for people facing criminal convictions, which has since grown into a focus on all things related to alternatives to incarceration and reentry.

And there is still lots of innovation going on at CCA! As an example, CCA, in conjunction with the Vera Institute of Justice and other stakeholders, is developing a pilot program that partners with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to allow a small cohort of people with felony records to live with their family members in NYCHA housing upon release.

Currently, NYCHA has a rule in place that forbids people with a felony records from living in New York City’s public housing. These types of housing restrictions may increase the likelihood of recidivism, as a formerly incarcerated person may end up in less stable living environments or even homeless. But this pilot program will change all that. It will allow 150 individuals with felony records who have family living in NYCHA housing to live with that family upon release. The families that will be involved in this pilot program are those that welcome and desire their formerly incarcerated family member to live with them. Thus, NYCHA will forego its traditional rule that forbids people with felony records from living in public housing for these 150 people and their families. From there, CCA, The Vera Institute, NYCHA and other program leaders will monitor positive outcomes that flow from allowing these 150 individuals to live with their family members. There is hope that, one day, the success of this pilot program will lead NYCHA to remove its housing restriction against individuals with felony records. The pilot program hopes to show that families are perfectly capable of bringing a formerly incarcerated family member into their home, in turn improving that person’s likelihood for reintegration, stability, and success in society.

We were so inspired by our talk with Josefina, and her advice to build the strongest foundation possible for our organization so that we can continue to innovate in the world of criminal justice reform & reentry. From the bottoms of our hearts, from our deepest roots to our highest branches, Root & Rebound would like to thank Josefina and the CCA staff for welcoming us into their space in Brooklyn, sharing their work, and supporting our mission to support individuals exiting prison and jail in Northern California.

Onward!

– The R & R Team

Please take a moment to learn out more about CCA and support them here!

Finding roots of reentry in NYC! First Stop: Friends of Island Academy

This Friends of Island Academy mural was created and painted by Mr. Anthony DeJesus, a youth leader.

This Friends of Island Academy mural was created and painted by Mr. Anthony DeJesus, a youth leader.

Welcome to the Big Apple—New York City! As big believers in finding and establishing roots here at Root & Rebound, we decided to take a work trip to the birthplace of the term “reentry”— where the roots to much of the work we care deeply about began. Whereas California’s reentry legal services are often far and few between, New York City has had decades of building up a robust, interconnected system of legal, social, and medical and health service providers for people exiting prisons and jails. People like Stanford Law School professor Debbie Mukamal, who we featured on our blog a couple weeks ago, were the foremothers and forefathers of reentry services on the East Coast. Several others will be featured on the Root & Rebound blog this week.

One of our first meetings was with the incredible Edgar La Luz Torres from Friends of Island Academy (“Friends”) in Harlem. At Friends, they strive to break cycles of incarceration by offering youth members a sense of belonging and limitless opportunities for achievement and growth. When young people become youth members at Friends, they map out personal milestone goals along five key program domains: education; employability; health & well-being; community participation; and recreation & arts.  The longer they remain engaged and connected to the program, the greater the influence on their trajectory to becoming economically independent adults, connected to their communities in positive ways. Friends leverages their strengths, resilience, and hopefulness as they overcome obstacles and transform their lives and communities for the better. Youth member alumnae remain connected to Friends for years, and through their youth leadership services, have had an impact on hundreds of at-risk children and young adolescents delivering their message.

The concept for Friends of Island Academy (“Friends”) developed in the late 1980’s at the alternative high school located in one of the facilities on Rikers Island housing sentenced adolescents.  At that time, the leading cause of death among black male adolescents in New York City was homicide, and the average daily population at Rikers Island was almost double what it is today (approximately 21,000 vs. 13,000 inmates).  In the earliest years of the organization, young people spoke about the importance of having proper clothing to attend funerals, and mothers and grandmothers expressed relief when a son/grandson was incarcerated, as they believed their child would be safer in jail than on the street.  The disproportionate per capita incarceration of young African American males was climbing at an exponential rate. The organization was rooted in collaboration between education and social service staff who sought to address the recidivism rates, untapped potential and disproportionate minority representation among thousands of adolescents who attended school on Rikers Island each year.

In the past 22 years of operation, Friends has seen a shift toward progressive approaches to deterrence and punishment.  The need for effective reentry services and supports became a legislative and executive priority around the nation.  In 1990, Friends was a pioneer in New York City reentry (a term which did not even exist then) by focusing on this specific population of youth in an adult justice system and beginning the reentry process inside, prior to an individual’s release. In New York, youth age 16 and up are prosecuted as adults in New York’s criminal justice system. Friends is unique in that it targets these young people in its work.  The only people they serve are youth coming out of jail and returning to NYC.

Nine years ago, Friends expanded their services in order to break intergenerational cycles of incarceration by providing support to fathers.  Their Friends 2 Fathers program, operating out of a community center in the Parkside Houses in the Bronx, provides services to noncustodial fathers in order to improve parenting skills, address domestic violence and anger management issues, and facilitate employment and child support.

In May 2012, Friends of Island Academy was selected as one of two providers under the nation’s first Social Impact Bond, in which private investment is leveraged to achieve public good.  This initiative, known as the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE), focuses on personal responsibility, education, training, and counseling with the goal of reducing the likelihood of re-incarceration.

Friends’ staff of facilitators and advocates is on Rikers Island every weekday, Monday through Friday, delivering an evidence-based cognitive behavioral curriculum and connecting youth to resources on the outside.  Together with the Osborne Association, we are delivering the curriculum to approximately 3,000 young people on Rikers annually.

Some of Friends’ core values are engaging in relationships with individuals pre-release, while their clients are still incarcerated, and encouraging their participants to become leaders and mentors in this work. These are program qualities that Root & Rebound hopes to institutionalize in our own work—supporting our clients to become active community members, mentors and leaders, and establishing relationships with individuals pre-release.

Please learn more about Friends of Island Academy here!

We also encourage you to check out some of the other great orgs we’ll be talking to in New York City this week:

Hopefully some additional NYC community profiles to follow!

– The R & R Team

Reentry Resource: ABA National Inventory on Collateral Consequences of Conviction

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We wanted to write a quick post about the most incredible and helpful resource we have found thus far: the ABA National Inventory on Collateral Consequences of Conviction. In a meeting yesterday with McGregor Smyth, an amazing attorney and advocate who founded the Civil Legal Services division at Bronx Defenders, and is now the Executive Director of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, McGregor told us about the ABA’s online database of the collateral consequences of specific convictions– both state and federal. We were so excited to explore the tool this morning that we had to share it on the blog!

As a refresher, What are collateral consequences of a criminal conviction?

From the ABA: “Collateral consequences are the penalties, disabilities, or disadvantages imposed upon a person as a result of a criminal conviction, either automatically by operation of law or by authorized action of an administrative agency or court on a case by case basis. Collateral consequences are distinguished from the direct consequences imposed as part of the court’s judgment at sentencing, which include terms of imprisonment or community supervision, or fines. Put another way, collateral consequences are opportunities and benefits that are no longer fully available to a person, or legal restrictions a person may operate under, because of their criminal conviction. The most familiar examples of collateral consequences are being unable to vote or obtain certain licenses or possess a firearm because of a felony conviction. But, as this Inventory reveals, there are many other kinds of collateral consequences affecting many areas of life, that take many different forms, and that are triggered by many forms of unlawful conduct.”

Why use the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences?

For all of us, practitioners, formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families, and citizens of the world, it can be very confusing and difficult to figure out the collateral consequences of state and federal crimes. It feels like we are banging our heads against a wall trying to help our clients, ourselves, and our loved ones. This database changes all that.

Through this resource, people can look up the state and federal collateral consequences of any conviction. Most states have been covered by the database; a few are still not included. California is! The site is very user-friendly. There are three ways to search the database: “Search by Keyword,” “Search by Consequence Category,” and “Search by Triggering Offense Category.” Each of these search features can be used individually or in combination. The searches themselves limit results from the database in different ways.

The ABA says: “To some users, this resource represents a way to locate particular collateral consequences that may be of interest, or to determine the range of consequences that may apply as a result of a particular kind of conviction. To others, this resource provides a broad overview of all the collateral consequences contained in a particular jurisdiction’s laws and regulations. Still others may wish to compare the laws and rules in different states, or do a national search for consequences affecting particular benefits or opportunities.”

The ABA has a great User Guide and FAQ page that can help you to understand how to navigate the site, but if you explore it for a bit, you will find its very intuitive, with a wonderful map where you can look up different state and federal consequences.

We hope you spend some time exploring this incredible resource. We are grateful to the ABA and its funders for developing this tool for all of us. We at Root & Rebound and our clients will be hugely benefited by this database.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

– The R & R Team

Target Bans the Box!

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Exciting news today that Target, one of the United States’ largest corporations and employers, has “banned the box” from its employment applications, meaning that it will not ask people about their criminal records in their initial job application. Target nevertheless reserved the right to ask about criminal backgrounds after the completion of an applicant’s first interview.

The announcement represents an important victory for the grassroots community group TakeAction Minnesota, which had been pressuring the company to change. Congratulations to TakeAction Minnesota on their incredible work, which will have a positive impact on the 65 million people across the country with criminal records who are hoping to join the job force. A Target spokeswoman said, ‘Target is an industry leader in developing a nuanced criminal background check process that gives qualified applicants with a criminal history a second chance while maintaining the safety of our guests, team members and protecting our property.’

The change at Target comes on the heels of other big changes around the country and the state of California.  Earlier this month in California,  Gov. Jerry Brown signed a ban-the-box bill that applies to government employers. Ten states and more than 50 U.S. cities have passed “Ban the Box” legislation, according to the National Employment Law Project. In 2012 the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded and updated a ruling that barred employers from automatically denying people jobs based on arrest or conviction records. The E.E.O.C. guidance made clear that an arrest alone is not proof of illegal conduct or grounds for exclusion from employment. It also explained that employers need to take into account three factors: (1) the seriousness of the offense, (2) the time that has passed since it was committed and (3) the relevance of the crime to the job being sought.

We hope that  that this is just the beginning of a sea change in employment practices, and that  other large corporations follow Target’s footsteps, making the choice to “ban the box” because it is the RIGHT thing to do. For now, it’s a small victory for the 65 million people in the U.S. with criminal records, their families, communities, and a sign of our country moving in the right direction. And it’s a good reason to feel better about doing some Target holiday shopping!

To read more about today’s news, check out the NY Times op-ed and the Huffington Post’s coverage.

Michelle Alexander & Modern “Legalized Discrimination”

This past week has been full of inspiration at Root & Rebound. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, came to San Francisco to speak about her research and describe the movement she imagines for achieving racial justice and ending mass incarceration in America. Her lecture raised money for the California Institute of Integral Studies’ (CIIS) brand new Arc of Justice scholarships, ten scholarships that will be awarded to formerly incarcerated men and women to complete their Bachelor of Arts degrees at CIIS.

Michelle Alexander - San Francisco CIIS Lecture - October 17, 2013

As an audience member and staff person at R & R, one of the most poignant pieces to Prof. Alexander’s lecture was how she broke down into layperson’s terms what she calls “legalized discrimination” against people exiting prison & jail and reentering society. What she means is that, while we no longer have laws on the books that are racist on their face, we have a legal system that disproportionately locks up people of color, and laws that, even after people have served time in prison and jail, exclude them from participating in society.

Prof. Alexander pointed to very specific ways in which our society “legally discriminates” against formerly incarcerated people: voting laws that make it impossible to vote if you have a criminal records,  employment barriers and occupational license bans against people with criminal records that force them out of the legal job market, the denial of public benefits and food stamps under some federal and state laws, and private and public housing discrimination. Prof. Alexander also described the destructive impact that mass incarceration of African American men has on their families and partners, because families, not just individuals who are formerly incarcerated, feel the stresses of this “legalized discrimination.” In all of these areas—voting, family life, jobs, public benefits, and housing—the law has been built up against people coming out of prison and coming back to the community. In the first video below, Prof. Alexander says:

“Now I find that many people have a general sense of, you know, understanding when someone is released from prison, life is hard. But I find that most people don’t fully appreciate that today, in the era of mass incarceration, once you’ve been branded a criminal or felon, you’re ushered into a parallel social universe in which the basic civil and human rights that apply to others no longer apply to you.”

Prof. Alexander then asks the audience: “What do we expect people released from prison to do? What is the system seem designed to do? Seems designed in my view to send folks right back to prison, which is what in fact happens the vast majority of the time. About 70% of people nationwide that are released from prison return within a few years. And the majority of those who return in some states do so in a matter of months because the challenges associated with mere survival are so immense.”

Watch more by clicking the link below.

In the second video clip, Prof. Alexander returns to big picture concerns—how to build a movement to end our current system of mass incarceration based largely upon race, the reality of prison expansion and its economic impact, and what we must do to change these systems going forward. She also discusses the importance of California’s prison system as a model for the rest of the country.

Prof. Alexander says: “History has shown that what happens in California often sweeps the nation. So what type of reform happens here has implications for the nation as a whole and for the future of race in America.”

She asks the audience: “What attitudes and belief systems must we change—personally, individually—must we change if we are going to respond with more care, compassion, and concern to those who have been locked up and locked out in the era of mass incarceration. It’s easy to point the fingers at politicians, but what about our own attitudes about crime and criminals. Whose stories are we willing to listen to? Whose stories do we believe or disbelieve? Who do we consider the others and who do we embrace as one of us? Who do we really care about? These are the questions we must ask if we are going to get to work building a movement.”

Watch more by clicking the link below.

We hope to be a part of the solution—that our small nonprofit will be part of a larger movement in California and around the country to respond with compassion, care, and empathy to those who have been locked up and locked out of society.

If you want to read more about these issues, we recommend picking up a copy of The New Jim Crow—a must-read for everyone living in the United States or anyone abroad who wants to understand the crisis of prisons, racial segregation, and criminal justice in America.

Feeling inspired!

–The R & R Team

To learn more about Michelle Alexander’s professional background and the funding for her book The New Jim Crow, please visit the California Institute of Integral Studies’ event website by clicking here.

What’s in a Name?

Some people have asked us about our name… What does it mean? Where does it come from?

It’s a simple concept, really, that we felt perfectly described the process, at any stage of life, of trying to restart and reset, and how difficult and thrilling and terrifying that process is for all of us. “Reentry” after serving a prison or jail term is exactly that: the human process of starting over, but after years, sometimes many decades, isolated and removed from a world that has changed without you in it.

In Yoga, there is the concept of “Root and Rebound,” or “Rooting to Rebound.” The idea is that, in order for us to grow fully, and be the greatest version of ourselves (physically, mentally, and emotionally), we must first be grounded and firmly rooted into this beautiful Earth.

Our hope is that, as an organization, we are able to help people find their “groundedness” in the world, to reconnect with or reestablish roots, so that they can more quickly become the fullest and best version of themselves. We hope to be a place where people always feel at home, whether it is to come in for a legal meeting, a group workshop, or just to sit in a community space, drink some tea, and read the paper.

So that’s the story… but we also leave “R & R” up to your own personal interpretation!

–The R & R Team