PHASING UP [news]

Workshops and Mentoring to Increase in 2008
March 2008

Public interest in ministering to and mentoring prison inmates and individuals re-entering society is on the rise, says Barb Tuffendsam, southwest Ohio associate for Prison Fellowship Ministries. Tuffendsam is currently organizing several mentoring groups in early 2008 to work with particularly women inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Columbus Ohio and at River City Correctional Center in Cincinnati.

Tuffendsam also co-coordinates the mentoring program with Step Up Prison Mentoring to work with inmates at RiverCity.

Information provided at recent mentoring workshops has included a detailed discussion on prison policy at the Women’s Reformatory and the jail policy at River City, the history of the institutions, and insight into a variety of prison ministries that are available, including teaching seminars, worship, and Bible studies.

A crucial part of the workshops, too, instructs individuals on how to mentor or “walk alongside” those whose scheduled release from prison or jail is forthcoming.

Contact Tuffendsam at btuffendsam@cinci.rr.com if you are interested in more information on prison mentoring, want to schedule a mentoring workshop, or want to learn about upcoming mentoring opportunities and 2008 workshops in southwest Ohio.

 

Task Force to Address Re-entry Issues
March 2008

The Re-entry Task Force (for ex-offenders) in Cincinnati, Ohio, comprised of community leaders and advocates that work closely with formerly incarcerated individuals, has embarked on a series of initiatives in 2008 to better communicate the needs among individuals re-entering society from prison and jail. At a December 17 meeting, the task force decided that the first major goal of 2008 is to come up with a vision statement. Members plan for the vision statement to be settled on by February 2008.

Discussing the types of characteristics and dispositions of formerly incarcerated individuals, many members offered a variety of traits, including “a desire to do better,” “creative in their thinking,” “charismatic,” “often committed to an urban lifestyle,” and “very intelligent.”

In contrast to these positive traits, members noted that formerly incarcerated individuals are also regularly affected by negative thoughts and aspirations that include “manipulation,” “instant gratification,” “lack of commitment,” and “[many that are] afraid to change and feel entitled."

”The task force viewed a number of goals for 2008 as critical, since the re-entry rate is increasing and needs among formerly incarcerated individuals are becoming increasingly prevalent.

Several areas the Task Force believes it can contribute to the city in 2008 include the creation of a “Resource Information Manual/CD-rom” for formerly incarcerated individuals; financial, job, relationship, and voter education workshops; and at least one forum for individuals with a criminal history to share re-entry and transition challenges and successes with the community.

It was recommended that four specific “growth needs” need to be more effectively met, in order for formerly incarcerated individuals to better assist their re-entry and functioning in society. These needs include much attention to educational information and contacts; family and relationship improvement; financial mentoring; and political empowerment (pursuing voter registration and gaining political empowerment).

The task force is scheduled to meet in early 2008 to work on the next steps toward implementing the vision statement and other initiatives.

 

Breakthrough Publication to Launch
March 2008

The first issue of a new print publication, Count Tyme, will be available in early 2008, according to publisher and editor, Robert Downs, Sr.  A formerly incarcerated individual, Downs has created Count Tyme to “inform and uplift the incarcerated, their families, friends, and community,” he says.

Count Tyme will consist of news articles focusing on health initiatives, relationship enrichment, spirituality, and education and literacy contact information, in addition to insights into legal issues, such as inmates’ and formerly incarcerated individuals’ rights and responsibilities.

“With respect to legal matters, so many inmates do not know what rights they have. They’re clueless,” says Downs, “and I want to eventually get my publication authorized for circulation in prisons around the country in order to help educate them as to knowing their rights, or at least who to contact to find out more information.

Count Tyme will be an eclectic publication, featuring poetry, short stories, and personal essays by inmates and formerly incarcerated individuals, and articles on music as well.“

Inmates need a channel in the outside world in which they can reveal the writing and thinking they’ve been doing,” Downs says. “Count Tyme is definitely a publication for such work.”

“I ask these questions,” says Downs. “Do you know someone who is incarcerated? Have you ever been incarcerated? Are you concerned about the increase in crime in our communities? Are you interested in reducing the high rate of recidivism? There are many who can say ‘yes’ to these questions. So, yes, Count Tyme is essential reading for a vast range of people.

”Downs is currently looking for writers and contributors. He’s actively seeking articles, and involvement from individuals throughout the U.S.

Downs says he would be especially gratified to establish relationships with accountants, law students, attorneys, graphic artists, and photographers who could contribute articles and information to Count Tyme.

“I’m just very excited about the potential for Count Tyme,” Downs says. “I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had. I want to do what I can for others.”

To help with production costs, Downs is seeking donations. You can correspond with him at counttyme@hotmail.com.  Or write him at: Robert Downs, Sr. P.O. Box 40605, Cincinnati, Ohio 45240.

 

Berkeley Filmmaker Receives Acclaim
March 2008

Doug Harris, award-winning documentary filmmaker and executive director of Athletes United for Peace (AUP), has created and produced two, new major documentary films, “The Don Barksdale Story” and “Basketball in the Barrio,” both of which are receiving numerous accolades, particularly in California and western states (click this link to an interview with Harris in RED!).

His newest film, “Basketball in the Barrio: El Paso’s Culture and History,” portrays not only Texas-El Paso’s origin and how it became one the most influential border cities in America, but it depicts one of the country’s most intense and significant basketball camps for youth. Each year, several former N.B.A. professional players, coaches, and All-American college players hold the “Basketball in the Barrio” camp, an event that is considered by many as one of the best youth camps in the history of basketball in America.

“I’m incredibly proud of this film, and I think it breaks ground,” says Harris who has also provided instruction and training for AUP’s Digital Technology Academy since 1997. “As well as chronicling the evolution of itself, the film looks deeply into how basketball has been utilized as an educational and communication vehicle in the world of El Paso youth. I’m thrilled to be able to portray these individuals through the lens of basketball, something that forms a real core of their community.

”With his award-winning documentary,“Bounce: The Don Barksdale Story,” Harris captures the life and influence of legendary Bay Area (California) basketball player and community leader, Don Barksdale, whose participation in the 1940s as a college, Olympic, and professional player transcended racial barriers, enabling subsequent African-American players to gain more attention at the time. 

Harris, who has an M.A. from California State University Monterey in Interdisciplinary Studies, is very active in mentoring youth in the Bay Area – often at-risk youth or those incurring probationary status.

His role as a community leader, professional filmmaker, and former college basketball star has enabled him to merge the art of filmmaking with sponsorship of athletic events, most notably the popular “Berkeley Latenight Basketball Program,” adding a vigorous educational component to AUP’s activities.

Harris began his career in video production by producing cable access shows for AUP at the Berkeley Community Media Center in 1994. He also directs film and video projects for AUP media.

Harris was an All-American basketball player in college and was inducted into the Contra Costa County Youth Hall of Fame in 2002 as a youth advocate. In 2003, he received the Avant Foundation’s MAGIC Award.

In 2007, Harris and the AUP Digital Technology Academy assisted the Alameda County Probation Department with a program that involved youth residents at Camp Sweeney (California) an opportunity to study and participate in a professionally produced documentary film.

AUP has also helped support several initiatives authorized by the Richmond (California) Improvement Association’s “Richmond Project,” a community re-entry program with outreach services for Richmond inmates at San Quentin State Prison that return to Richmond on parole.

Athletes United for Peace is a United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Member.