The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao Tzu

Dear Friends of Friends Outside:

My mantra for 2021 is “Be the Change you Want to See in the World.”  A former FOLA volunteer, Kathleen Tobin, sent me the following, of unknown authorship:

What if 2020 isn’t cancelled?

What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for?

A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw –

That if finally forces us to grow.

A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us

from our ignorant slumber.

A year we finally accept the need for change.

Declare change.  Work for change.  Become the change.

A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart.

2020 isn’t cancelled, but perhaps instead

is the most important year of them all.

While still grieving incalculable losses due to COVID, I am concerned that a possible palliative effect of this new year could be a false reassurance that somehow a new year will make our problems disappear.  But, pick a cause, from the criminal justice system, to economic disparity, healthcare disparity, climate change, or a democracy on the edge and scratch the surface.  There is likely at least one concern for which each of us could have done something or done something more.  For example, in 1985, we had a state prison population of 50,000.   By 2005, it was 167,698.  Today it is stands at approximately 115,000.   Average people made this positive change happen by educating the public, unrelenting advocacy, and by voting.

Won’t you  join me in taking a first step of many by supporting and getting actively involved in something you want to change?  Let’s make 2021 and beyond a Happier New Year!

Mary Weaver

Executive Director

We Serve Inmate’s Immediate Needs Upon Release

When a person is released from jail/prison, the focus is often again on immediate needs. JUST A FEW OF WHICH ARE LISTED HERE:

  • Where will I live?
  • How will I get a job?  (approximately 60% of parolees are illiterate; 17% have learning disabilities)
  • I don’t have any transportation.  How can I look for a job?  How will I get around to see my parole agent/ probation officer?
  • Who will hire me with my tattoos?
  • What assistance will my parole agent/probation officer provide?
  • My California I.D. was lost while I was in jail/prison.  I need it in order to access other services and to get a job.
  • The only clothes I have are the ones I’m wearing.
  • How much responsibility should our family assume?  Should we let him/her live with us?  Where else can (s)he get help?
  • Was his/her substance abuse problem addressed during incarceration?
  • Did (s)he change during incarceration?

In response to these concerns and needs, Friends Outside provide the following services:

  • Employment assistance, including job placement with employers who hire felons, referrals for clothing, and assistance to obtain California I.D.
  • Emotional support
  • Resource referrals and assistance accessing other services, including dental care, health care, counseling, housing and tattoo removal
  • Placement into treatment programs, including sober-living programs, substance abuse treatment programs, and domestic violence treatment programs
  • Bus tokens
  • Support groups for former prisoners
  • Case management for the formerly incarcerated and their families

How the Community Benefits:

  • Parolees/probationers who get and keep employment for one year are more likely to successfully transition back into the community than are those who do not
  • Parolees/probationers who get treatment for substance abuse problems are less likely to recidivate (return to prison/jail) than are those who do not
  • Substance abuse treatment costs taxpayers approximately $4,000 per participant for a six-month program.  Incarceration costs taxpayers approximately $12,000 per inmate for a six-month period.

Sources of Information:
Friends Outside staff and case records
The Blue Ribbon Report on Inmate Population Management, State of California