Friday, November 19, 2010

Authors of Program tell WHY

Testimony One by program co-author Andrae Bridges, Imprisoned at age 16, now 33.

Why I Think This Program (Redemptive Re-Entry) Is Needed
I think the Redemptive Re-Entry Program or something similar is needed because juvenile offenders who were waived into adult court, convicted of violent crimes, given lengthy sentences and have served more than thirteen (13) years deserve a second chance at the life they never knew. Or had for that matter. I have found that juveniles who don't get waived into adult court ultimately receive a second chance at life. Even after having been convicted of crimes just as violent as those who get waived. It is clearly understood that we're dealing with two different jurisdictions here; juvenile and adult. However, we're dealing with the same kind of individuals; JUVENILES.

"The Court explained that juveniles were less culpable because inexperience, less education, and less intelligence make [a juvenile] less able to evaluate the consequences of his or her conduct while at the same time he or she is much more apt to be motivated by mere emotion or peer pressure than as an adult. The reasons why juveniles are not trusted with privileges and responsibilities of an adult also explain why their irresponsible conduct is not as morally reprehensible as that of an adult." (2007 Wis. L. Rev. 729)

With that being said know that I attempt to make no excuses for my actions. And I'd be the first to admit that said actions were deserving of punishment yet I can't help questioning the degree to which such was disseminated. In 1992 (when I was convicted), had I not been waived as an adult I would have most likely been released around the age of twenty-five (25) or so, depending on certain factors. I most certainly wouldn't still be in the system, as I am now. And that's due solely to the fact that I was waived as adult and thereby sentenced as such. But my point is this: with the Redemptive Re-Entry Program or something similar, prisoners such as myself will be given a shot at freedom just like those who remained in the juvenile system.' Although having served more prison time. Hence, under the juvenile system I probably would have served no more than ten (10) years. Whereas I have nearly double that (17) in the adult system.

In closing, I think the Redemptive Re-Entry Program or something similar is needed because it would apply to a unique group of individuals who have essentially been forgotten. In addition to the ten reasons why I feel and/or think I should be released from prison. But as I was saying, over the years there have been tons of research done on the brain development of juveniles as well as juvenile justice reform. But all of those efforts seem geared toward the juveniles that are entering the system today. Don't get me wrong, I believe that's wonderful and I encourage more efforts in that regard but I'd also like to see something put in effect that would allow prisoners such as myself to receive a special parole grant or at least be given the opportunity to work towards obtaining one or something as such.
Andrae L. Bridges #248420

Testimeny Two by program co- author Roy Rogers
R. Rogers
Why I Think This Program (Redemptive Re-Entry) Is Needed
I believe a program like the Redemptive Re-Entry program is needed because it acknowledges the redemptive value in teens who committed horrible crimes. This program affirms the possibility of positive change in the lives of these offenders and their ability to be productive members in society. This program is needed because it acknowledges that teens who committed serious offenses and sentenced as adults to lengthy prison terms are not throw aways. I believe this program is needed in the Wisconsin Prison System because in order for restorative justice to be complete it requires the restoration also of this class of inmates.

The Redemptive Re-Entry Program is needed because it is in the spirit of the Second Chance Act and the current re-entry initiatives because those eligible for the redemptive re-entry program will be offenders who have taken active responsibility for their actions. They've done this by doing their part to repair harm and restore relationships thru their program involvement and community service.

A program like this is needed because the State of Wisconsin is in a financial bind with a lot of money spent on corrections. The cost of incarceration is steady rising as more offenders are entering the system while current offenders are not exiting fast enough. There are a class of inmates who have fulfilled their rehabilitative goals by receiving vocational training and completing essential programming reducing their risk of re-offending, who came to prison between the ages of 13 and 17 who have been incarcerated 13 years or more who would pose no risk to the community if released and would be valuable contributors and assets to society.

In conclusion, I believe a program like this is needed because adult prisoners who came to prison between the ages of 13-17 should be viewed and treated differently from offenders who came to prison as adults. The reason being is that the personalities, characters and ability to fully comprehend long term consequences and effects of negative behavior were still in development stage in 13-17 year olds in comparison to their adult counterparts. A program like this is needed to recognize and reward the rehabilitative efforts of this class of inmates.

In The Interest of Restorative Justice,
Roy Rogers

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ten reasons why I should be given my freedom

First essay is by Andrae Bridges, second by Roy Rogers.

Ten Reasons Why I Feel and/or Think I Should Be Released From Prison
I thought I had already had my bouts with the hardest of writing assignments until I got assigned the arduous task of writing down ten reasons why I feel and/or think I should be released from prison. Wow! What's so hard about that? One may wonder. Especially when you consider the fact that I've written numerous subjects ranging from prison life to sexual abuse, in addition to an autobiography. As a result I consider myself to be a writer and a pretty good one at that. However, ten reasons why I feel and/or think I should be released from prison don't quite roll off the brain as quick or smooth as one may think. Not because I don't feel or think I should be released. But simply because the task at hand calls for me to be self-serving and that's not something I'm accustomed to thus it's very uncomfortable. I could write down ten reasons why someone else should be released from prison in less time than it took me to write this paragraph because it has become something of a habit for me to put others before my own self. On the other hand, I love a healthy challenge and having to write ten reasons why I feel and/or think I should be released from prison has proven to be just that. So please bear with me as I try to meet and conquer said challenge.

(1) I should be released from prison because I have served my debt to society in full. Although I've only served seventeen (17) years out of a life sentence, without the possibility of parole until 2037, my punishment has been harsher than anyone can possibly imagine:
(a) I entered the system at the age of sixteen (16) whereupon I was waived as an adult. Although I thought I knew everything, both prison and maturity made me realize I knew absolutely nothing and was therefore clueless. With a sound understanding and appreciation for life and everything it has to offer, it's devastating to know that I may never get the opportunity to fully experience such. Now having served more time in prison than I had in society tears at my soul every day. Thus I'm constantly reminded of the fact that I threw away the life I never had. In that alone I feel I am more than deserving of a second chance. Better yet, a second, first chance!
(b) I have essentially lost my family, immediate and otherwise. Be it death or simply living life, which has caused them to forget about me. Around these parts that's most commonly known as "Outta sight. Outta mind!" Understandable, yet very painful nonetheless. The list of things that make my punishment harsher than anyone may know grows on. In fact, at times I believe a death sentence would have been far more lenient. Make no mistakes about it, nothing listed here is intended to minimize or take away from that which got me incarcerated. I take full responsibility for my actions, both past and present.
(2) I should be released from prison because prison no longer provide opportunities to atone for my actions, if anything, prison facilities have become institutions that feed everything negative and I refuse to go back down that road. I need to be released so that I might be able to surround myself with positive people who not only encourage me to give back and be constructive but expect nothing less of me.
(3) I should be released from prison because I can be far more productive in society as opposed to incarcerated. Doing prison time after having served seventeen (17) years have proven to be more counter-productive than anything else.
(4) I should be released from prison because I have outgrown these walls that confine me. Not to say that I'm not able or willing to learn more. It's just that I've allowed my time to work for me as opposed to against me. In that I've taken full advantage of every opportunity to grow up and give back, give back and grow up (SEE: Institution Resume). For being able to give back and lead by example ultimately encouraged me to get my mind right and vice versa. I can't do the one without the other. Confinement/ for me now severely limits that. A good example of just how limited we are, from and educational standpoint is the fact that we can only take one vocational course. Although most facilities offer a minimum of two, we can only take one. No matter how much time one has served or has left to serve. After completing one vocational course, that's it. You'd think we'd be allowed to get as much education as we wanted. But the massive population expansion and lack of funding limits that and everything else for that matter.
(5) I should be released from prison because my being here is a waste of time and space. Admittedly, I don't want to see or suggest that anyone be subjected to incarceration as it is today however, there are many who could use this time to get their minds right. Granted the appropriate groups and programs are provided. Once they better themselves they should be given the opportunity to prove such in society, as with myself.
(6) I should be released from prison because I would NOT re-offend.
(7) I should be released from prison because I am willing to be a model for those who get released from prison and refuse to fail. In fact, I want to be in a position where I can assist them as needed.
(8) I should be released from prison because I need to mentor the youth so that they won't make the same mistakes that I once did. I believe juvenile violence can be greatly decreased if someone actually got in there and listened to the youth. And who better than someone such as myself? Instead of constantly looking for ways to lock them up, I want to help devise ways to set them free.
(9) I should be released from prison because I have conquered my personal demons and I live above any and all negative influences. Gone are my self-destructive ways and days of victimization.
(10) I should be released from prison because I have become a good man. Deserving of nothing less than a second chance at this one life so many often take for granted. The beauty in all of this is every person I've met thus far would support everything I've listed here.
Andrae L. Bridges #248420

Ten Reasons Why I Feel and/or Think I Should Be Released From Prison
In support of this initiative for this Redemptive Re-Entry program I submit these ten reasons why I feel and/or think I should be released from prison. Writing this has been a very difficult and challenging endeavor for me, for many reasons. First of all, I am self-conscious and aware of the reason of why I'm incarcerated in the first place, a vicious crime committed against another human being. Second, I'm aware of the victims I created and the horrible pain I've caused and the wounds and scars I left behind. Thirdly, the sentencing court was rightfully looking to punish me for my horrendous behavior and at the same time protect the public. Thus, I'm mindful of these factors and refuse to do or say anything that would depreciate the seriousness of the crime I committed. I have taken active responsibility for my actions and in all humility I submit Ten reasons why I feel and/or think I should be release from prison.

1) I should be released from prison because I am no longer a risk to the public. I have grown up and matured into a responsible adult who has relinquished anti-social behavior and thinking. I came to prison at the age of 16 and began to do all I could do to change and minimize that risk to the public by aligning myself with Biblical spirituality, obtaining my HSED, receiving vocational training as a printer, taking and completing all mandatory programming and optional programming, I became a model inmate who is compassionate and caring towards others. .

2) I should be released from prison because I should be given the opportunity to repair some of the harm I've caused in the community. I haven't been able to do that in prison to the degree of measurable impact. I want to do my part but the current system makes no allowance for that. I'm indebted to the City of Milwaukee to do my part to have a positive impact on it.

3) I should be released from prison so I can help mentor youth and specifically at risk youth who are in danger of hurting themselves, others and their community. I've been where they're at and have suffered great consequences as a result of my behavior and have to live with what I've done for the rest of my life. Moreover, reaching out to the youth will be a continuation of what I've been doing for the past 15yrs in prison.

4) I should be released from prison because my track record in prison personifies what the DOC means when it speaks about rehabilitation. To keep a rehabilitated man like myself incarcerated works against the very rehabilitation I have achieved and continue to achieve because I grow in positive change everyday. There is nothing left for the DOC to offer
me I am an unused resource that's being warehoused.

5) I should be released from prison because it is bad public policy to invest public funds to continue to imprison me since the DOC's rehabilitative goals for me has been fulfilled. My continued incarceration is unnecessary and incurring unnecessary costs to taxpayers. The average cost of my incarceration is approximately $32,000 yearly. Taxpayers have paid $512,000 in the past 15-16 yrs; in 10 more years it would have cost taxpayers $832,000 to keep me incarcerated. And since I'm a lifer with no guarantee of release it will literally become a million dollar investment to keep a man who poses no risk to society incarcerated. These figures are actually lower than what they actually are as they are not adjusted to reflect the rising costs of incarceration.

6) I should be released from prison because I have community leaders who support me being restored back into society.

7) I should be released from prison because I can and will make a difference in Milwaukee.

8) I should be released from prison because I should have the opportunity to bring honor to the name of Glance Venson, Jr., the victim in my case to give him a voice. I want to and will somehow make sure he is remembered as I will do many monumental and life changing things in his name This has been my endeavor for many years. I don't feel I have paid my debt to the community if I am not afforded such an opportunity. The DOC is totally passive in this respect.

9) I should be released from prison because as a lifer I'm less than 1/3 as likely as all released offenders to be rearrested within three years of release from prison (See, George Soros Justice Initiative Project "The Meaning of Life"- This coupled with my history of personal development and positive change (see Rogers resume).
10) I should be released from prison because I realize I'm far more better than the worst I have done. I was incapacitated and punished for who I was ... is there no redemption for who I am now?
Roy Rogers #273696