Turning Leaf, which was founded in 2011 as a jail-based inmate rehabilitation program, had a huge year in 2016. We made pivotal changes to the program based on the needs of the community and lessons learned in 2015. With our center-based program now as the focal point of our work, we provided comprehensive reentry, rehabilitation and employment services to 22 men recently released from prison. Each of our students was assessed as likely to return to prison without an intensive intervention.
We gained a new home at the end of 2016. Turning Leaf now operates out of the former Coastal Pre-Release Prison in North Charleston. It's a new era in corrections when we are closing prisons and using them for rehabilitation. We are deeply thankful and honored that the SC Department of Corrections offered us use of the space. We recognize this as an opportunity of a lifetime.
Turning Leaf was able to hire a new staff member in 2016, making us a three person operation. Justin Evans moved from Charlotte to join the team as our Case Manager. We now have a staff person dedicated to providing one-on-one attention to each of our students, helping them develop tools to cope with problems and reach goals. Justin's involvement with our men has been critical to their success. Read more about him here.
With the help of our partners at Charleston Life Screen Printing, we launched Turning Leaf's first in-house job training program last year. Our screen printing business gives the men an opportunity to apply the life skills they're practicing in class, while learning the fundamentals of business management and screen printing. Two students have been hired by a local screen printing shop as a result of their job training at Turning Leaf. (Photo by Adam Chandler)
Here are a few other key highlights:
Over 20 partners, funders and invested community members came together in early 2016 for a four day strategic planning conference, led by expert facilitator David Hunter. The result is that we now have a more focused mission and target population, and a more clearly defined set of outcomes and direction for the organization.
The newly designed center-based program was launched in August, 2016, with 22 men enrolling before year's end. Each student is required to complete 100 hours of classroom training over an 8 - 12 week period, in order to improve thinking, problem-solving and decision-making before being placed onto a transitional job. Of the 22, 13 completed the classroom requirements and were placed with a government work crew or private employer. (Photo by Adam Chandler)
70% of the men we serve are likely to be arrested without an intense intervention
We're beyond excited to have Charleston County as a new work partner. Two students will have temporary positions in the County's Public Works Department. We've also made the leap into private business. A local screen printing company and a manufacturing company have signed on as partners and have hired our students. We now have seven graduates hired on permanently with the City of Charleston, three with the City of North Charleston, and many others working on a temporary basis.
Amy Barch, Director of Turning Leaf, was invited by U.S. Senator Tim Scott to discuss the program with Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a criminal justice roundtable meeting in Charleston. Read more about the meeting, including a quote from Sessions about Turning Leaf in a Post and Courier article.
Here are a few success stories:
At 34, Rickey has spent most of his life in and out of prison. He grew up in an environment that supported drug use and criminal behavior, so that lifestyle felt normal to him. He'd tried to make changes before, but always went back to his old ways. This time he says, "I've come too far to go back." He enrolled in Turning Leaf in July of 2016, and turned his temporary job into a permanent position with the City of North Charleston. His goal right now - to get his CDL and complete probation.
Koty says that when he was released from prison in September he knew he wanted to change his life but he didn't know how. Fast money and an exciting lifestyle had always been a draw for him. After Koty enrolled in Turning Leaf he began to see life differently. He set goals for himself, and became really interested in screen printing. Now he is working for a local screen printing company and he's created his own logo and is working towards starting a design business called Kodak White.
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Why We Succeed
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with Stipend
CBT is proven to be an effective strategy to reduce reoffending, especially with those at high risk to reoffend. Skills are not just taught, but practiced and role-played. This takes time and repetition, and it rewires brains. Research shows that high-risk individuals need 150-200+ hours of CBT in order to “rewire” their brain. Our graduates receive 200 hours of a CBT intervention.
We also provide our students a stipend for class attendance, so that they can afford, literally, to devote the time necessary to rewire their brain. This way they can focus on developing the thinking and problem-solving skills they will need to be successful.
Our students are provided temporary employment with the City of Charleston, N. Charleston, Charleston County or a private employer. They are assigned to a work crew, where they learn skills, develop a work history and job references. At the end of the transitional work period, we help our students obtain permanent employment or enroll in a vocational or educational program.
We serve individuals who are at a medium to high risk of re-arrest to change their attitudes, thinking, and behavior so they can adapt successfully to community based living without incarceration.
Your gift today allows us to serve men who without an intense intervention will likely continue to cycle through our jails and prisons.