Bruce Herdman, chief of medical operations for the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, sometimes describes the county jails this way: “This is the largest psychiatric hospital in the state of Pennsylvania.” Forty percent of Philadelphia inmates are on psychotropic medications; 17 percent have what’s considered a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
While serving what was supposed to be a life sentence in prison, Tyrone Werts was influential in bringing the The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program to Graterford Prison. The program brings together college students and people serving time to learn from each other about crime, justice and other social concerns.
It took a little prodding, but Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor Michael J. Stack finally admitted how, as a youngster playing hooky from school, he bought cigarettes illegally and was caught. Luckily for him, the store detective never followed through on his threat to send Stack to jail.
Jeff Abramowitz is starting to sleep under his covers again. He brushes his teeth with a decent toothbrush. He lays his head on a decent pillow. The faint clamor of keys clattering against a metal ring, however, sometimes keeps complete comfort at bay.
Reporter Noah Levinson spoke with Steve Blackburn, from X-Offenders for Community Empowerment and Jeffrey Abramowitz, from Community Learning Center of Philadelphia to discuss the challenges that returning citizens face when seeking employment.
PhillyCAM Voices is a new community news show highlighting political, cultural and civic events in Philadelphia and is dedicating its March show to reentry awareness.
The series features stories about the Reentry Coalition, Think Tank, ex-offender employment through Community Empowerment and Community Learning Center, housing with Why Not Prosper and stories of fathers reuniting with their children at The Center for Returning Citizens.
Ex-drug dealers turn their lives around at ShopRite, but what about the misery they caused on the street?
No doubt Jeffrey Brown, the chief executive of Brown’s Super Stores Inc., a chain of 13 ShopRite and Fresh Grocer supermarkets, deserves praise for hiring people released from prison. It helps them and it helps Brown’s business, because the ex-drug dealers, in particular, have real retail expertise.