A Fresh Perspective to a Fresh Start

Are people static, rigid beings that remain the same through life? Are people the same at 1, 21, and 81 years old?

No, human life is dynamic. In fact, all life is full of ebbs, flows, and change. Beyond life, even the inanimate world is constantly changing. Molecules are constantly shifting and vibrating. Nothing ever stops. Therefore, as people grow, they should constantly be growing, evolving, and changing for the better. This blog serves to illuminate the importance of prisoner reformation during incarceration, and also highlight important work being done.

A prison is a place where people go to serve a sentence for a crime they have committed or are accused of committing. For many inmates, the sentence leads to a life of confinement. However, for others, there is a day in which their release will arrive. When that day arrives, will the person be ready for society? Will they have had a dynamic experience in prison which reformed them for society? For some, life post-release from prison is a fresh start. However, for many others, prior life experiences and life in prison only further foster troubled behavior. Therefore, the personal growth to a better person is stymied. So, how do you help someone recently released from imprisoned begin a new life? There are different opinions on how this can be achieved. One way this can be achieved is by giving a former inmate the resources and connections they need to start a new life.

Currently, I am working with the Turn Your Concern into Action Foundation to create a manual to assist recently released inmates from Tihar Prison. The manual will help inmates by listing NGOs and government agencies in Delhi that provide assistance with shelter, food, clothing, legal aid, drug de-addiction, mental health, healthcare, employability, life skills, legal aid, and conflict resolution. Additionally, the manual will have a section which gives good tips for success post-release. The manual will be produced in Hindi, English, and as a pictorial guide. The reasoning for such variety is to ensure that it can be of assistance to as many newly released inmates as possible. The manual will be released to newly released inmates from Jail #5 of Tihar Prison. Jail #5 houses first-time male offenders ages 18-21.

The creation of this manual is an offshoot of the work being conducted by a coalition of NGOs in Tihar Prison to help with the education and rehabilitation of young inmates. This coalition of NGOs started a school called the Better Life Prison School in Ward #5 of Tihar Prison. The primary aim of this school is to help students in functional literacy and life skills during their incarceration. The work being done in the school has helped more than 800 benefactors to date. As many newly released inmates have so many needs once leaving, the guide assists in ensuring that the rehabilitation and needs of inmates are continually met even post their release from prison. Thematically, the guide is designed to help inmates with baseline survival needs, and skills needs.  In time, the hope is that the Better Life Prison plus the pictorial guide will help provide a new life with new opportunity. Currently, a rough draft of the guide has been created, and it is being refined by a professional designer. Once the guide is designed, I look forward to seeing the impact of work.

Life is dynamic, and people should be afforded the opportunity to have a new lease on life after making mistakes. For the first-time offenders in Prison #5 in Tihar, we hope a new lease on life can be found through this manual.

Tod is a 2016 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College. While at Morehouse, Tod received an International Studies degree with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. Tod received the highest average in his major, and was a member of the Morehouse College Honors Program. Tod has traveled extensively both during and after college. Countries traveled include China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Israel, Greece, and Denmark. Tod is a 2015 Charles B. Rangel Scholar, and a 2015 Oprah Winfrey South African Leadership Program Fellow. As a 2015 Oprah Winfrey South African Leadership Fellow, Tod worked alongside various South-African non-profit organizations to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention. In 2016, Tod served as a Humanity in Action Copenhagen (HIA) Fellow. As a HIA Fellow, Tod partnered with the Danish non-profit Grace KBH to advocate for and provide services to economic migrants who were primarily of Syrian, West African, and Roma descent. Tod’s time in Denmark concluded with him and other Fellows presenting a brief to Danish government and civil society leaders highlighting the social, economic and intellectual capital of migrants. After returning to the United States, Tod worked in the Montgomery office of US Congresswoman Terri Sewell providing case services to constituents in the United States, State of Alabama’s 7th district. Alabama 7th district is the state’s poorest district, and is comprised mainly of African-Americans. In his free time, Tod enjoys kayaking, archery, traveling, reading and spending time with his friends and family.

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