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Monday, May 23, 2016

Bronx Community Solutions Hosts Appreciation Breakfast for Our Partners

by Shlomit Levy, Clinical Coordinator

On Friday May 20, 2016, Bronx Community Solutions hosted an appreciation breakfast to personally thank those agencies who have partnered with us over the years.  Our partners range from employment training, substance abuse treatment, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, health education services, Planned Parenthood, CASAC training institute, Community Service sites, and various other agencies.  Our preferred partners assist in providing group facilitation to our menu of social service groups, provide outpatient treatment and support services, and refer interns who are seeking learning opportunities.  The providers had the opportunity to hear from all of Bronx Community Solutions’ program coordinators as well as network and learn about each other’s roles at BCS.  Awards were presented to three providers that have served the clients of BCS for over 10 years: Arms Acres, Vertex and World Vision.  One provider stated “I never realized how many clients Bronx Community Solutions served and how many programs you have”.  
For more pictures of the event, check out the slide show above.   

Arms Acres drug treatment program received a certificate as one of BCS's longest partnerships

Monday, May 16, 2016

Talking Bail Reform at the Schomburg Center

by John Megaw, Director of Special Initiatives

The Vera Institute of Justice and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice hosted a forum on bail reform last week at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The forum, titled “Resetting Bail: the Price of Justice in New York City”, took a hard look at the current bail system – how it works, strategies for improving to make it more fair and effective and the pioneering practices already in place to inspire enduring change.

Speakers included Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Miriam Popper, Program Director of Alternatives to Detention and Incarceration at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Nicholas Turner, President and Director of the Vera and Honorable George Grasso, the Supervising Judge of the New York City Criminal Court Arraignments.

One of the pioneering practices highlighted is the new Supervised Release program that began on March 1 in Criminal Courts in all five boroughs.  Over 500 men and women who might otherwise be languishing on Rikers Island awaiting trial have already begun in the program in less than three months!  A video highlighting some of the success stories from the program, including a Bronx Community Solutions client, was well received by the 250 criminal justice reformers and community members who attended the forum.


National Reentry Week

by Ramon Semorile, Intake Specialist

April 24-30 was National Reentry Week--a week focused on bringing awareness to the needs of individuals returning home from prison.  On April 28th, Reentry Anonymous, a support group for returning citizens, was invited to participate in a forum called, "I'm Home, What's Next?" for inmates who were nearing the end of their sentences.  I represented Reentry Anonymous on the panel and answered inmates' questions.  Common questions were how to avoid negative people, places and influences and how to cope with the anxiety of supervised release, career and confronting old habits. 

Most of what I witnessed was the inmates' courage--the courage to change their lives.  I saw this in how they nodded their heads in approval and hearing what they believed or were attempting to achieve as returning citizens. 

The two other panel members were returning citizens and became inmates again but they recognized their mistakes.  They told the other inmates what errors they have committed, recognizing they needed another approach to keep themselves out of jail.  It was a great event  and I can't wait to go back for another opportunity to speak.  It is just as important to give returning citizens the opportunity to become productive members of society as it is to close prisons and jails.