When I was a social work student at the University of Kansas, I volunteered at a homeless center and in jails and worked as a juvenile probation officer. I met a lot of people who were cycling in and out of incarceration.
Through these experiences, I discovered a passion for working with adults in the criminal justice system – with men and women who were struggling after serving their sentences – because their experiences were dramatically affecting their families and kids.
I’ve devoted my career to helping formerly incarcerated individuals improve their lives. Today I lead a major research initiative at Florida State University’s Institute for Justice Research and Development to identify the most effective re-entry services for achieving well-being and full human potential. We have a randomized controlled trial involving 50 prisons, 12 rural and urban counties, and more than 1,000 prisoners who are being released across Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Now, in partnership with the Stand Together community, we are expanding this effort to five additional states.
By equipping incarcerated individuals with the tools they need to return home and become productive members of our communities, we’re helping give them – and their children – a second chance, while also making our society safer.