Community Re-Entry Program: Introduction
America incarcerates a higher percentage of its people than any other country in the world. Young black males in particular are incarcerated at an alarming rate, serving more prison time than whites for the same crime. In 2004, 21% of African American males in
their 20s, who did not attend college, were incarcerated. More than 33% of all young black males are under the supervision of the corrections system, either by being in prison or in parole. The compounding problem is that 60% of ex-offenders will be re-arrested two years after release. A large percentage of African Americans are becoming Muslim in prisons. In New York State, for example, about 20% of the inmate population is Muslim. The recidivism rate for Muslims is better than for non-Muslims but the difference is not great. The reality is that Muslim ex-offenders receive little help from the Muslim community when they are released.
In 2006 MANA’s Majlis ash-Shura decided to initiate its second project: Community Re-Entry. The goal of the project is to decrease the rate at which Muslims return to prison and to help ex-offenders become contributing members to the Muslim community and society in general. The means of achieving this goal is to develop a model community re-entry program that local communities would adopt.
ORGANIZING THE COMMUNITY RE-ENTRY PROGRAM
A Community Re-Entry Task Force was formed by MANA’s Shura. Its members are
Mika’il DeVeaux, (Chair), Director of Citizens Against Recidivism (NY)
Talib Abdur-Rashid, Imam, MIB, Deputy Amir MANA (New York)
Abdullah Faaruuq, Chaplain in Massachusetts, Imam, Mosque of Praising Allah
Ismail Abdul Alim, Chaplain in Indiana
Sabur Abdul Salaam, former Chaplain in New York
Sunni Ali Islam, Chaplain in Ohio
Umar Al-Khattab, Imam, Masjid al-Fajr (Indiana)
Zaafirah DeVeaux, Citizens against Recidivism (New York)
Tariq Karim, Chaplain in Ohil
Abu Jamal Teague, Director, Crescent Social Services (New Jersey)
R. Mukhtar Curtis, Chaplain, Federal Bureau of Prisons
The Task Force agreed that the approach to reducing the recidivism rate must be comprehensive. The approach must address all the issues that impact ex-offenders. These issues include pre-release educational programs, a place to worship upon release, a wholesome place to gather, identification, employment/workforce development, housing, education/vocational training, substance abuse treatment during and following release, physical/mental health issues during and following release, marriage, family unification/counseling, individual case management/counseling, food/clothing, deportation, parental rights, foster care and domestic violence,
The objectives of the Task Force are:
- Develop a pre-release educational program that would prepare inmates with the attitudes, character traits and interpersonal skills that would facilitate their integration back into society.
- Develop a model community re-entry program that any Muslim community might implement.
- Develop a model for a community resource service that would serve as a referral center of ex-offenders. This service would be available to others in the Muslim community.
All the model programs would be readied by April 2007.