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Opinion Page: Readers share views on Fair Shake

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” – Rudyard Kipling

We often receive emails and letters from people expressing gratitude for what Fair Shake has done for them. We want you all to know that the strength of Fair Shake comes from the community.  Building this community is critical in the process of creating effective change. The stronger our community gets, the stronger society becomes!

I am using my packet and am in the RDAP program since I got clemency from President Obama on his last day.  I am using the packet to show others here in this program what you have accomplished.

I have to have a job being in this program and my job is called Transition Committee and it has to do  with transitioning back into society. They have a lot of the states and all kinds of different agencies but it’s all in big binders and you have to search for what you want. Sometimes you don’t even find what you are looking for.

Your system is state of the art!      

                                        –  Ryan

Here is the complement of the day for your organization:

“I got my booklet and started to page through it. The next thing I knew it was 3 hours later and it was count and I didn’t even realize that I had been going through the information that long… it is that interesting.  Please tell that lady Thank You!                               

– Comment from Wisconsin

 

We value the sincerity in your assistance to us. I was fortunate to have Ms. Kastensen come speak here and her enthusiasm and optimism really inspired me to help others!                              

   – Steven

 

Your approach and program has been far an away the most comprehensive and in touch with the realities faced by inmates upon release. You are a very brave and determined advocate for those of us who will be released with virtually zero MEANINGFUL support.  

             – Robert

When I first saw what Fair shake could do I was truly amazed. I hope we get Fair Shake here!  I think Fair Shake offers value to anyone willing to put in the time! I will be on Fair Shake as soon as I get out.

– Jeffrey

                    

First thank you very much for all you do for us.  Prior to knowing about Fair Shake, I had to do hours upon hours of research just to find release resources for one individual that participated in the class I taught.

 Anthony

 

The most valuable about you all to me is that you give us outlines to all things that we need to be prepared for upon our release. Fair Shake addresses our needs by giving all the info that we need to better ourselves and let us know that we can make it if we want to and stay on a positive path to change.            

              – Sean

I feel that you really care about reentry and that is extremely important to people who are incarcerated. Doesn’t seem like many people, even staff here, care about the felons re-entering society and being successful. Fair Shake has addressed my needs by sending me the reentry handbook. There were some useful information / tips in there that I used to create my resume and consider the topics on what one might expect to happen upon release…about getting frustrated, angry, sad etc. Thank you for doing awesome work.       

Adam

 

Your workshop guides are thought-provoking and require the reader not only to read, but to think and respond. The ‘build a budget’ worksheet is another example since many people who’ve come to prison did not live by a budget. I think that any time you can create information and make the reader interact, you will have a better chance of helping that person. It is also very important to remember to know your audience and use words, phrases, and such that you know they will understand and accept.                                         

 – Anthony

 

We see Fair Shake as *extremely engaged, pro-active, and focused directly on the *whole experience* involved in an ex-offender’s re-entry into society. Fair Shake is the ONLY entity that we’ve come across so far, who speaks *directly* to incarcerated people about re-entry. We believe Fair Shake’s information to be realistic, up-to-date, and that F.S. is truly a “partner” to the ex-offender in his/her release and re-entry preparation. You’ve “taken the *challenge* to the source!”  More than anything, we believe Fair Shake’s information and approach provides any man or woman who decides to reach out the chance for some real moral support during their time of incarceration, and helps them face what may be/is to come. We are very appreciative of F.S.’s efforts to get the offline version (DVD-driven) into the F-BOP facilities. We realize, from a first-hand view, that this is a challenging effort. BUT, we believe institution administration will see the positives in making the software available.                               

 – Chris

“Fairshake’s Reentry Packet is the one-stop shop for incarcerated and returning citizens. It is my source for information on the services that I will need to help me transition home. And with better information, we stand a chance to make the good decisions necessary to succeed. So, I’m very thankful for all the hard work and dedication of those that organize and run Fairshake.”

          – Jason

 

When I was first introduced to fair Shake I thought it was just another organization that provided limited resources and mostly served the organization rather than those facing reentry, which has an adverse effect on the incarcerated individuals and society alike. I was immediately impressed that Fair Shake provided thousands of nation-wide resources as well as employment tools for both incarcerated individuals and employers alike. This set Fair Shake apart in my mind right away I knew it was different from anything I’d ever seen. What I thought at the time was that the powers that be are finally listening to us and truly addressing our needs.

What makes Fair Shake so unique is that it covers all bases, even more thoroughly than I would have thought to as an incarcerated individual myself. Fair Shake offered what all the other reentry organizations had offered in terms of tangible resources. And still managed to go a step further and offer guidance or opportunity for growth in the intangible areas, something I’ve found to be the most important issues. I found the Reentry Packet to be a very comprehensive guide for not only the use of its resources, the use of computers, which is something that I’ve heard many express the need for and fear of. I was impressed that you could read through the pages of the packet and get a basic understanding of computer use without having a computer at your disposal, this was priceless and builds confidence to explore more. I continued to read the entire packet in one sitting, amazed at how different and thorough Fair Shake had been at providing resources, instructions, and insight on issues not only concerning reentry, but life in general. I felt like it was done so efficiently that only an incarcerated individual could have created it. ‘Finally someone gets it.’ I said to myself. Fair Shake’s approach speaks to this perfectly in their acknowledgement of these issues.  They do so without pointing and screaming “you need to change!” but strategically placing the intangible tools among the resources that incarcerated individuals openly acknowledge as a need. Placing the vitamins in the candy bar, so to speak. Making it easily digestible for those who may have not been looking to “change” their lives.

The most impressive tool that Fair Shake offers is the Ownership Manual, which provides guidance and information that assists in life skills. This is done without saying that something is wrong with you, but that the information is for anyone who wants to improve their quality of life. Most incarcerated individuals I’ve encountered, including myself, have been told that they’re “not good enough”, or made to feel that something is wrong with their lives. The Ownership Manual and other Fair Shake tools provide the opportunity for change without implying that an individual need “fixing”. This is an important way to be effective with the prevalent mentality of the incarcerated.

The Reentry Packet spoke to all the areas of life that I had come to terms needed addressing in my quest to change, something I’ve never seen from any organization dealing with reentry. We were so impressed with the Fair Shake reentry packet that my co-worker and I decided to not only petition the staff to make the resources available in the future, but to immediately start a workshop using the Reentry Packet as a guide because it encompassed what so many of the other programs provided but with the personal touch of understanding and collaboration, instead of the usual do this and we’ll check that box. It provided an opportunity for individuals to move at their own pace without judgement and take responsibility for their own reentry at every turn, invoking lessons of responsibility while creating an open platform for discussions about change. The response was overwhelming with the waiting list being over a month long.

The workshops planted a seed that carried over into the creation of an Inmate Reentry Council that is inmate led and staff advised. The uniqueness of Fair Shake’s approach, coupled with the resources, creates a sense of a supportive community through their non-judgmental views and conversational tone. Fair Shake truly provides a Fair Shake.

– Terrell