I thought I would share with you something positive I witnessed here at Marion CI:
The G.I.V.E Program hosts three seminars over the year that ends each of the three sessions
Errors in Values; and
Truth in Consequences
and focuses the participants’ attention on the consequences of their choice from the perspective of their family, the victim, and the courts.
Our mission statement is to assist young men in successfully navigating back into life’s positive paths by sharing experiences, personal testimonies, building group dynamics, and establishing positive relationships as guides and systems of support.’
The name of the most recent seminar and a brief description follows:
‘From a Woman’s Perspective’ Seminar
This seminar ends the first session of G.I.V.E ‘Examining Manhood’ by using a panel of mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, and wives of incarcerated men (normally a panel of no more than ten women) to join the group and share how their loved ones’ incarceration has affected them, their families, and their communities.
Without diminishing the pain caused by the offender to the victim(s) and their family, the ‘Woman’s Perspective’ enhances the offender’s awareness of his complete set of consequences caused by his choices.
The ‘From a Woman’s Perspective’ seminar places emphasis on the very real, but often overlooked fact that when we become incarcerated we are not alone on this journey, in fact we incarcerate our loved ones right along with us.
The women share testimonies that speak of:
* How they view themselves victims of their loved ones incarceration and by proxy are incarcerated right along with them
* How the incarceration has affected them, their family, children, and their community.
* Consideration of escaping the situation, and what makes them stay.
* How they feel about the incarceration.
* How the incarceration has caused them to put their lives on hold.
Suffice it to say, it was a meaningful event and very moving. My only thing is, it has to be more than just an emotional event – it has to translate into something that creates some positive, meaningful change. And I know it has the potential to encourage change; it’s just a matter of guys wanting to break the cycle. Anyway, the next two seminars are ‘Respect and Responsibility,’ (January), and ‘Death by Incarceration’ (February). I will be speaking at the latter like last time.
Well, it’s similar to the Pacer program I was part of at Warren, but this one here is much more elaborate and well organized. It consist of ‘Navigators’ (mentors), and ‘Journeymen’ (mentees), and the journeymen are anywhere from 18 to 25 yrs old. The navigators take the position of providing these young men with life skills and lessons that may potentially assist them in breaking some of the negative cycles that land them in prison. The forum is what they call a ‘cipher’ wherein they sit in a circle and discuss really important topics that help these young men in their transition from malehood to manhood. It’s guidance and learning in the form of sharing. They conduct six to eight weekly sessions and at the end of which, they will have an event like the ‘Woman’s Perspective seminar. They will hold at least 7 different events total in a year’s time, so it’s a rather extensive and involved program. The gist of it all, though, is taking these young men, and providing them with direction, mentorship, and a forum to express themselves openly and honestly. It’s a really good program.
The G.I.V.E. program, is basically a mentoring program that tries to help young men make that necessary transition into manhood and responsibility. It’s a really good thing that they’re doing, too. They go all out for these young guys. Every prison needs something like this, I feel. It definitely gives these young men some foundation to stand on. The women’s seminar was the second one to date, and I have no doubt they’ll be doing it every year because of how well the first two have gone. As mentioned, they have about 7 or 8 of these different events every year at the end of each 6 to 8 week sessions. At the very end of it all they give a big graduation party, which they really appreciate. They make them feel really a part of something worthwhile, which is important for these young guys. A lot of them come from messed up backgrounds, and part of what this program does is help them to understand their self-worth and give them some purpose. It’s definitely a positive and meaningful thing that they’re doing. If I’m still here I’m going to become part of it, myself – G and a couple of the other guys have already been trying to get me onboard. I do guest speak during the session on ‘Dead Man Walking,’ but I will become a little more involved as a regular facilitator (navigator) in the future (again, if I’m still here -smile).