In Arizona, #cut50 is partnering with Reinventing Reentry.
This organization will be hosting a Probation Simulation to give participants first-hand experience with the challenges of coming home from prison and being put into an overly restrictive, and often arbitrary system of probation.
Sue Ellen Allen, who has spent time in state prison, stated that this is one of the best, most compelling and informative programs she has ever observed and experienced.
There are a lot of myths and barriers, and I believe this will be an opportunity to break down some of those myths and barriers which will hopefully start to bridge the gap to help folks returning to all of our communities. They will be inviting legislators to attend this event.
What’s It Really Like To Get Out Of Prison?
Arizona Charter Academy
Interactive Reentry Simulation
Tasha Aikens, M.S., BCBA, Reentry & Law Enforcement Community Coordinator, U.S. Department of Justice
Sue Ellen Allen, Founder & CEO, REINVENTING ReEntry
Background of El Mirage and Surprise:
ACA literally sits on a socio-economic divide. To the west, the city of Surprise is composed of predominately Caucasian, middle class families. In comparison the city of El Mirage, to the east, is largely composed of Hispanics of lower socio-economic means. ACA is unique in that we are the only school located in the original town site of Surprise (OTS). The OTS is the original square mile of Surprise which represents the highest poverty area in the city.
ACA serves a very diverse population. For the 2014-2015 school year, student enrollment at ACA was comprised of 50% Hispanic, 32% Caucasian, 16% African-American, and 2% other. In terms of subgroups, our population has 80% who qualify for free and reduced priced meals. ACA is a School Wide Title I school.
Schedule of Events:
Friday, Feb 10th, Showing of film 13th, centered on mass incarceration and race in the United States criminal justice system, the film is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed slavery (unless as punishment for a crime).
Thursday, Feb 23rd, Prison 101, speech by Sue Ellen Allen, a personal look inside prison and the challenges an inmate faces upon release, particularly jobs, housing, and education. An explanation of The Box.
Wednesday, March 1, Day of Empathy. An interactive probation simulation that creates an incredibly strong probation experience in just two hours. Participants will be high school students, family members, faculty, community leaders, ASU honors students and professors.
There will be follow up in the month of March.
Participants will play the parts of probationers who experience what getting out of prison is really like.
The setting requires two rooms or two separate spaces in one room. One space is set up classroom style; the other is a space lined with tables to simulate offices, classrooms, stores, jobs, court, prison, etc. We expect 50 people.
The two groups of people needed are probationers and probation officials. The “probationers” are given plastic sleeves with instructions on tasks to complete each week of the first four weeks of probation.
For this ‘first month,’ fifteen minutes represents one week. At the end of each fifteen minutes they are evaluated for progress or failure. At the end of the experience, there is a debriefing and a call to action.
The participants will receive two questionnaires.
How did they feel going through the experience and what were their outcome? Did they succeed or fail?
What needed changes did they see in the system?
How will they use this experience to impact change in the system?
Calls To Action:
A post card handout with information on the Fair Chance Pledge designed for easy distribution to local businesses.
A list of bills currently at the AZ legislature that relate to criminal justice and how to educate their representatives.
How to communicate with their legislators to encourage participation in a simulation at the capitol.
This is an eyeopening experience designed to raise awareness in just two brief hours of how our tax dollars are being spent within our criminal justice system. This speaks to anyone who is a taxpayer, has a friend or family member in prison or is concerned about community safety. It will definitely raise awareness and empathy in an exciting and fun interactive experience.