Giving With Eyes Wide Open
a guest post from Amicus Communications Director Steve Nelson
Amicus recently had a comment in response to one of our blog posts that we are “hopelessly naïve,”
that we have somehow failed to notice that we are working with people who have committed serious crimes and have caused great harm to innocent people.
We understand that roughly four out of every 10 people who are released from a correctional facility end up going back. We know that those involved with our programs tend to go back significantly less often and are heartened by that, but still, our eyes are open. For example, we’ve seen that, as a group, Amicus One to One participants go back into prison less often than those who haven’t participated. What we can never guarantee to a volunteer is that the particular inmate they are matched with will succeed on the outside. Despite everyone’s best efforts, we’ve experienced the misplaced guilt, the heartbreak and sense of loss that comes when a One to One friend violates his parole or dies after getting drawn back into the web of violence he was trying to escape.
There are so many challenges facing someone being released from prison that our help alone will never be enough. The real change needs to come from inside the person. They have to make difficult choices; accepting responsibility for what they did, cutting themselves off from relationships that don’t help them and making new ones; learning to live with the limited job and housing opportunities available for ex-offenders, and working through the humiliation and hostility society tends to heap onto those who have caused harm.
At Amicus, our eyes are open. They are also open to the daily triumphs. For every person who walks through our doors and will eventually go back to prison, there are four others we work with who are making it, contributing to their families and communities.
We’re not alone either. Our supporters include police officers and probation officers, attorneys and judges, conservatives and liberals. They know that the truly naïve person is the one who thinks human beings are disposable, that denying opportunity to those who leave prison will somehow improve public safety, that locking people up and throwing away the key is somehow cost-efficient.
We keep our eyes open for guys like Lionel Buchanan who is making it outside after decades of incarceration.
“Through the Amicus One to One and Reconnect programs, I found housing, transportation and job opportunities. Now I’m even furthering my education,” Lionel told us. “It can be a scary, challenging time coming out of prison and reentering the community, but Amicus gave me solid ground to stand on.”
On Tuesday, November 16, Amicus is participating in Give Minnesota’s “Give to the Max” program.
Give to Amicus online that day and an anonymous donor has promised to match your donation. You might also help Amicus win a Give to the Max Day “Golden Ticket.” One donor will be randomly chosen every hour to have $1,000 added to their donation.
Go to http://givemn.razoo.com/story/Amicus-3 to learn more and make a donation. We ask, with eyes wide open, that you Give to Max!