PROGRAM I: RE-ENTRY AND RECIDIVISM PREVENTION
“Within six months of being freed 28 percent of former prisoners were arrested for a new crime; three years, 68 percent; five years, 77 percent. Twenty-nine percent of the returnees had been arrested for violent offenses; 38 percent for property crimes; 39 percent for drug offenses; 58 percent for public order crimes.”
GUNS DOWN! works with the formerly incarcerated to reintegrate back into society as functional, healthy and productive adults. Experience has shown that the number one factor in recidivism is economics. After having been imprisoned, most people vow to never return to prison but without the skills to legally support themselves, without the ability to earn a living wage and provide for their families, economic pressures force many to return to what they know. To combat this, our Program is structured to address the major causes of failure to transition back to society and not re-offend.
The Re-entry/Recidivism Prevention Program has three key components:
Re-Orientation – This Program will work with clients to help them get their footing after release. A needs assessment will be done for all clients. This assessment will take into account drug abuse/ mental health history as well as barriers to employment. Each participant will take the TABE test and other basic measures to formulate their Program Goals.
Job Readiness with Computers – This training program will help clients become proficient in Computer Operations, Microsoft Office Suite and advance Technology programs to gain a competitive edge in the job market.
PROGRAM II: CONFLICT RESOLUTION & STRATEGIES FOR NON-VIOLENCE
GUNS DOWN! is dedicated to stopping those killings, to educating the youth away from violence not by lecturing or preaching but by engaging them mind, body and soul in producing positive outcomes. Through mentorship we will help youths address important life issues, such as goal setting, social behaviors, conflict resolution, addressing negative peer pressure and developing long-term goals and following through to achieving them.
The Life Skills Program works with youth to reverse the trend of self-inflicted genocide by addressing the causes of youth violence:
Conflict Resolution - Conflict is an unavoidable aspect of everyday life. Successfully navigating conflicts leads to personal growth and often deepens and strengthens relationships. Negatively handling conflict leads to everything from increased stress and anxiety to murder. Our program teaches conflict resolution strategies as well as life skills.
Family Mediation – Many at-risk youth live in families with multiple stressors such as poverty, unemployment, abuse and drug addiction. Many also come from ACS-involved families or have been separated from their natal families. Our Family Mediation program will work with these youth to empower themselves through support groups such as Children of Alcoholics and Nar-anon. We will also offer family mediation with mediators as well as counseling and referrals to organizations for those who need more structured therapy.
Youthful Offender/ Alternatives to Incarceration Advocacy – Studies have proven that with the right supports, alternatives to incarceration such as Restorative Justice not only work but have a positive impact on the community. By working with at-risk youth to redirect and refocus their life’s path, we will break the cycles of incarceration and recidivism before they even start. Through mentoring, alternative education, workshops, and working with juvenile justice partners, we will design alternatives to incarceration that not only punish the wrongdoer but also makes him/her work to give back to the community they’ve harmed.
Victim Impact – Despite their adult behavior and attitudes, most youngsters do not fully grasp the impact of their actions. They don’t understand the effects crimes have on not just the victim but their families, their friends and their neighbors. They do not understand that momentary fun often has dire consequences. The Victim Impact workshop works on building empathy and shaping perspective through gritty, hard-hitting, real life talk from speakers who the youth relate to and respect.
PROGRAM III: COMMUNITY ROUNTABLE
In order to have maximum impact, we must work with partners to engage community members at the grassroots level. On Saturdays and Sundays, GUNS DOWN will hold round-table, community development events. We will bring in experts on capacity building, speakers, politicians and other players from the vast spectrum of people working to end violence in our communities and across the world.
We will also have an open computer lab for those who need it as well as special events such as fairs and workshops to provide information and resources for the community.
The Peace Project
Yoga and Stress Relief