Re-entry: What exactly does that term mean? It has become the catch phrase to mean what happens when a person returns tosociety, when they are released from prison. Reentryincludes: on-going supervision by the even larger prison authorities by either probation or parole departments, it can mean a number of mandatory supervision regulations that a person must follow in order to stay out of prison. It means continued surveillance by the government. It can also include, where do we live or work? How do we connect with our families? How are we supposed to function in the larger society and community, or even with ourselves away from prison?
This reality coupled with the discrimination and stigma that is attached to every single formerly incarcerated person makes life very very difficult.
Our guest this week, Maryam Henderson Uloho and Roy Waterman, talk about their incarceration, the woes of re-entry and how they took their natural talents and fostered them into opportunities of economic empowerment and financial sustainability.
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Maryam Henderson-Uloho is the founder of SisterHearts Re-Entry Program (SHERO) and SisterHearts Thrift Store. When Maryam was in prison, she identified the need in the community to assist women transitioning from prison back into society. She recognized quite often that many people come out of prison with the intentions to better themselves but the pressures of day-to-day living make it hard for them to adjust. Many formerly incarcerated individuals are released with no support system, housing or funds. Making it impossible for them to achieve the goals they set for themselves prior to being released. When society makes life unnecessarily difficult for one to decarcerate after being incarcerated. ReEntry is becoming a social word not really intended to rehabilitate the criminal minds. Maryam vowed to be the bridge that the formerly incarcerated could cross over into society with dignity. She gives second chances to returning citizens while assisting them to build economic stability. In less than three (3) years SisterHearts through our founder, Maryam Henderson-Uloho rose to become a reentry giant with only $40 in her pocket from selling junk out of a suitcase walking street corner to corner to having built a financial empire through her thrift store and transitional housing. She is now being nationally recognized as a motivational speaker, reentry specialist andentrepreneur. Maryam travels all over the country sharing her amazing story of how she rose from the devastation of Prison to Power.
Today, Maryam being the mother of seven children lives with her youngest son, Robert, in Arabi, Louisiana.
Roy Waterman is the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Criminal Justice Project Manager. This project is focused on educating and empowering the Jewish community relations field to advocate on criminal justice reform at the national and local level, fostering relationships and building alliances between Jews and communities of color, policy work to improve law enforcement practices, and developing pilot projects in the field to support communities in crises. He will assist to mobilize these communities against the modern day Civil Rights violation we call Mass Incarceration. Roy Waterman Co-Founded Drive Change, a vibrant social enterprise non-profit, that uses the mobile vending industry to train, empower, employ and teach transferable skills to formerly incarcerated young people ages 18-25 years old who have been released from adult jails and prisons in the New York City area. One of its initiatives, The Snow Day Food Truck won the 2015 NYC Best Food Truck and People’s Choice Award. Roy has spoken at numerous public schools, community colleges, and Ivy League universities and has been featured on several national media outlets. He was also named the New Yorker of the week by NY1. Roy specializes in changing mindsets, re-scripting the narrative around the realities of formally incarcerated people and concretely assists and supports those who have been intercepted by the criminal justice system. Roy is an advocate for equal justice for all and challenges the moral fabric of Incarceration and other Human Rights Violations. He lives by the saying “we can only keep what we have by giving it away”. This is his return to society! This is his legacy!
Yesterday our Executive Director Topeka K. Sam sat on the "Unshackled" Panel at the Women In The World Summit alongside Holly Harris, moderated by Tina Brown, Founder, and CEO of Tina Brown Live Media | Women in the World. They discussed Dignity for incarcerated women, how it felt to be shackled during transport and touched on the bill that was recently passed in Kentucky that now prohibits facilities to shackle pregnant women while incarcerated. You can watch yesterday’s panel here