NowComment
2-Pane Combined
Comments:
Full Summaries Sorted

Former D.C. inmates use virtual meetings for support, encouragement as they adjust to life outside prison

Author: Keith L. Alexander

Alexander, K. (2020, July 12). Former D.C. inmates use virtual meetings for support, encouragement as they adjust to life outside prison. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/former-dc-inmates-use-virtual-meetings-for-support-encouragement-as-they-adjust-to-life-outside-prison/2020/07/08/b6c2dbc2-bae6-11ea-bdaf-a129f921026f_story.html

0 General Document comments
0 Sentence and Paragraph comments
0 Image and Video comments


New Conversation
Paragraph 1 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 1, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Former D.C. inmates use virtual meetings for support, encouragement as they adjust to life outside prison

New Conversation
Paragraph 2 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 2, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Eddie Ellis conducts a Zoom meeting with returning citizens released under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act.
New Conversation
Paragraph 3 (Image 1) 0
No whole image conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Whole Image 0
No whole image conversations. Start one.

New Conversation
Paragraph 4 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

By

Keith L. Alexander

New Conversation
Paragraph 6 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
July 9, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. MDT
New Conversation
Paragraph 7 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

At 6:30 p.m. on a recent Thursday, faces started popping up on the phone and computer screens.

New Conversation
Paragraph 8 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 8, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Hey, what’s up, man?” one man yelled out on the Zoom call. “Blessed, man. Just blessed,” another responded. “I got a call back from FedEx,” another said, drawing cheers at his reference to a job prospect. “That’s what’s up.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 9 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The dozen men on the screen each had spent at least 15 years in prison for murder. As they adjust to life back in the community, they have been there for one another to offer support.

New Conversation
Paragraph 10 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 1 0
profile_photo
Feb 8
Mr. Harry Brake (Feb 08 2021 8:11AM) : Severity of cases more

Thinking on the opposite side of this, for the families of those who had family members that were killed, I think this could be disconcerting. I am curious to know if there has been some type of progress in the individual charged showing growth, remorse, and personal changes in lieu of this happening so long ago – being released after so long, with such an extreme level of an infraction is still very controversial to those that have committed the crime and those affected by the lost family member. Interesting that those convicted of murder are chosen versus smaller crimes. What are your thoughts on this?

New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 2 0
profile_photo
Feb 5
Lilly Lyon (Feb 05 2021 2:58PM) : The author introduces a problem that is likely not commonly thought about when discussing prison release.

Most of the men were released under a D.C. law that allows judges to free certain longtime prisoners who committed serious crimes when they were under age 18. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a burst of activity under the law — nine men released in the past four months — but it also means those men have stepped into a world where traditional support and education programs have been upended by the pandemic and even the ability to see family and friends may be limited.

New Conversation
Paragraph 11 0
profile_photo
Feb 2
Sarah James (Feb 02 2021 2:51PM) : The author introduces the problem. more

As former prisoners are being released back into society, they struggle to adapt. The COVID pandemic has created even more difficult for these ex-felons to rejoin society as they lack the physical support they should receive. Without this essential support, these individuals find themselves often repeating the same cycle and back in prison.

profile_photo
Feb 8
Janet Ilko (Feb 08 2021 10:50AM) : I think that any support we can give people returning to society is important and necessary for the common good of our society. I wonder if this support group is easier to implement through Zoom?
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Whole Video 0
No video-level conversations. Start one.

So the former inmates, who no longer can meet safely in person, have begun to use twice-monthly Zoom meetings for encouragement and a place to talk about job opportunities and the challenges of life outside prison walls. And for those on the call who happen to be Dallas Cowboys fans, some good trash-talking.

New Conversation
Paragraph 12 0
profile_photo
Feb 2
Sarah James (Feb 02 2021 2:53PM) : The author presents the solution. more

Although it’s unsafe for former inmates to connect in-person, the Zoom platform allows them to interact with each other and get support from people who have been in similar experiences.

New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Look at us. There’s about 300 years on this screen,” said Norvelle Nelson, 43, scanning the faces of the men attending the meeting. “These guys on this screen have a level of strength and endurance to persevere.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 13 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Norvelle Nelson, who was released from prison under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act, participates in a support group with other former inmates.

New Conversation
Paragraph 14 (Image 2) 0
No whole image conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Whole Image 0
No whole image conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

When Nelson was 17, he and two friends fatally shot a man as they tried to steal his crack cocaine. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison and released last year under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA), which requires inmates to have served at least 15 years in prison and to have tried to better themselves there.

New Conversation
Paragraph 16 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 2 0
profile_photo
Feb 2
Sarah James (Feb 02 2021 2:58PM) : The author provides a backstory to the problem and solution.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“They’re somebody to talk to me when I need it,” Manuel Brown, 39, said in an interview. Brown fatally shot someone when he was 17. He was released from prison in January. “I like to see them succeeding in life. I can learn from them, like how to think first before reacting with a comment or making a move. You don’t always learn that as a kid, unfortunately.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 19 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The meetings, Brown said, “keep me focused, because out here you can definitely lose focus.” He works stocking shelves at a local Giant and has part-time jobs with a street-cleaning and landscaping company.

New Conversation
Paragraph 20 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The law, Nelson said in an interview, dramatically changed the outlook for prisoners who committed serious crimes as youths but had shown evidence of growth in the years afterward.

New Conversation
Paragraph 21 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 21, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“Guys who thought they were going to die in jail, now have hope,” Nelson said. “They now feel they have a chance to go home, so they are changing their behavior on the inside.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 22 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 22, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 22, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Several men who petitioned for consideration under the law had been moved to the D.C. jail and were awaiting court proceedings when the novel coronavirus struck the nation and the courthouse drastically reduced its operations. At first, those legal cases slowed. But as the court ramped up telephone and virtual hearings and officials sought to reduce the jail population to limit the virus’s spread, another group of men were given their freedom.

New Conversation
Paragraph 23 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 23, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 23, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 23, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Darrick Evans, 41, who joined the Zoom call, was among them. He was released in April after 24 years in prison for fatally shooting a 14-year-old boy.

New Conversation
Paragraph 24 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 24, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 24, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I’m here just to gain some insight on what to expect now as a free man,” Evans said. He told the group he had been having trouble getting proper identification so he could secure a job. “It’s hard to get an ID during this covid crisis.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 25 0
profile_photo
Feb 2
Sarah James (Feb 02 2021 2:56PM) : The author cites specific quotes from participants of the solution.
profile_photo
Feb 5
Lilly Lyon (Feb 05 2021 2:59PM) : By using specific and positive examples from participates, the author makes their solution not only seem more feasible, but more necessary.
New Conversation
Paragraph 25, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 25, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 25, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Each morning since his release, Evans has written a to-do list to help focus his job search. “Structure is important,” he told the group. Behind bars, inmates are told when to eat, when they can exercise, when they can go to the commissary and other appointments. On the outside, sticking to a schedule helps keep him on track.

New Conversation
Paragraph 26 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 26, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 26, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 26, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 26, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Eddie Ellis, 44, understands the challenges other former inmates face. He was 16 when he was charged with fatally shooting another teen in 1991 and ultimately sentenced to prison. He was released in 2006, about 15 years into his 22-year sentence.

New Conversation
Paragraph 27 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ellis was released on parole, not because of IRAA but for good behavior. It was during his 14 years out of prison, Ellis said, that he saw former inmates struggle to build new lives as they returned to gentrified neighborhoods that were completely different from the places they had left as teens.

New Conversation
Paragraph 28 0
profile_photo
Feb 2
Sarah James (Feb 02 2021 3:00PM) : The author supports the solution with concrete evidence from former inmates experience.
New Conversation
Paragraph 28, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 28, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

So Ellis partnered with several organizations, including his employer, the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, as well as the Free Minds Book Club, to help fund various programs, including those to support the IRAA recipients.

New Conversation
Paragraph 29 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 29, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“We wanted to give them a safe space for them to talk about and acknowledge what had happened, the wrong they did, the guilt, their frustrations in finding jobs, mental health and self-care-type things,” said Ellis, who joins each session and helps lead the conversations.

New Conversation
Paragraph 30 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 30, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

The Web meetings are akin to neighborhood barbershops where men gather in a relaxed, no-judgment space and can discuss their feelings and frustrations. “We wanted to give them a place where they can come in and laugh and, when it’s time to get serious, to talk about things,” Ellis said.

New Conversation
Paragraph 31 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 31, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 31, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Through their meetings, the men have organized letter-writing campaigns and sent care packages to those D.C. jail inmates waiting for IRAA court hearings to be scheduled. Several even recorded videos of support on behalf of the inmates to send to the judges overseeing their petitions.

New Conversation
Paragraph 32 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 32, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 32, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Practical information such as job openings are shared at the meetings. During one recent session, one attendee said he had found a job with a construction company and shared the contact information with the group. Others mentioned companies that were hiring such as Amazon, Home Depot and Giant supermarkets. Domino’s Pizza, DoorDash and Grubhub were also hiring, one of the organizers of the call noted. But employees must have a driver’s license and access to a vehicle.

New Conversation
Paragraph 33 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 33, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

After spending 40 years behind bars, Gary W. Jaggers, who was released in April, talked about the challenge he and his 73-year-old mother were having getting reacquainted. Jaggers was 16 when he was charged in 1980 with killing an elderly man and woman as well as robbing and assaulting a third elderly victim in Congress Heights.

New Conversation
Paragraph 34 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 34, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 34, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Jaggers, 56, said he realized that his and his mother’s personalities had changed drastically during the decades he was in prison. Jaggers also said he realized he needed to accept the grief that his crimes caused his mother.

New Conversation
Paragraph 35 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 35, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 35, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“One of the biggest challenges I have now is to mend a fence that was broken and the embarrassment that I caused my mom for my incarceration,” he said to the group. “I don’t know nothing about her other than she’s my mom. I’m in a mending process right now because of the pain and suffering I caused her. It’s great to be home. But it’s also a responsibility for me.” After 22 years behind bars, Charles Fantroy, 41, said spending time outside each day helps him cope with coronavirus restrictions. He was 17 when he was convicted of murder and was sentenced to life in prison before being granted release last year. He said he had been convinced he would die in prison.

New Conversation
Paragraph 36 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 36, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I get out every day. I go running a lot in Rock Creek Park. I practice my social distancing,” he said. “I’m going to be getting out this house. I just keep pushing.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 37 0
profile_photo
Feb 8
Mr. Harry Brake (Feb 08 2021 8:14AM) : Similar to PTSD more

Similar to what those suffer in the military upon being released, I think this is a great article to build a mentoring program like this. This is a helpful program rather than simply letting individuals suffer the consequences from a situation where they might not have received help at the time of the crime.

New Conversation
Paragraph 37, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 37, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 37, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 37, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 37, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

A handful of the attendees called in from their phones without video. One told the group he was “still in recovery” since being released.

New Conversation
Paragraph 38 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 38, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 38, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“You are bouncing back, man,” another participant said.

New Conversation
Paragraph 39 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 39, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“It’s good to see y’all,” another man told the group. “Good to see you too, bruh,” they responded. After about 90 minutes of discussion, the men signed off until the next meeting. “See you next time, brothers,” Ellis said.

New Conversation
Paragraph 40 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 40, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 40, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 40, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 40, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

DMU Timestamp: November 12, 2020 20:50

General Document Comments 0
Start a new Document-level conversation

Image
0 comments, 0 areas
add area
add comment
change display
Video
add comment

Quickstart: Commenting and Sharing

How to Comment
  • Click icons on the left to see existing comments.
  • Desktop/Laptop: double-click any text, highlight a section of an image, or add a comment while a video is playing to start a new conversation.
    Tablet/Phone: single click then click on the "Start One" link (look right or below).
  • Click "Reply" on a comment to join the conversation.
How to Share Documents
  1. "Upload" a new document.
  2. "Invite" others to it.

Logging in, please wait... Blue_on_grey_spinner