Since 2005, CRESC (Capital Region Ex-Offender Support Coalition) has held firm to that Vision Statement. Many members of the Coalition have come, gone, and come back throughout the years, but the Vision andMissionhave remained the same. With recidivism rates in the Capital Region being what they are, it might be difficult to believe that so many people have worked countless hours to support the successful reintegration of ex-offenders. Still, men and women across the Capitol Region, many of them volunteers, have put forth relentless effort and compassion through their time, money and other nameless sacrifices; making real change in the lives of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.
If I’ve learned nothing else since joining the mission, I’ve learned that the willingness of people to create opportunities for ex-offenders, builds bridges where there are none. While the media hinges its existence on the misdeeds of “damaged criminals”, there are parents, siblings, spouses, full-time employees, community activists, church organizations, business owners, nonprofits, correctional personnel and especially ex-offenders, pushing past the stigma and misinformation to mentor ex-offenders in hopes of helping them find a better way. These are the members of CRESC.
This is what we do.
For every fortunate person whose youth and adulthood have gone completely untouched by disfunction; traumatic experiences that include alcohol/drug addiction, domestic violence, poverty, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, separation, divorce, imprisonment, and/or neglect--there are hundreds, if not thousands more who understand these traumas all too well. Somewhere over 70% of all Americans, according to recent statistics. It stands to reason that many of us have the potential to make choices which divert to prison--and while it’s no excuse-- it is a worthwhile explanation. Doesn’t it also stand to reason then, that so many of us would want to help others navigate broken lives that often fall, sometimes repeatedly, into broken systems unequipped to heal wounds of the past? Though not all CRESC members are ex-offenders, those most committed to Reentry do not act from mere sympathy, but from empathy. The desire of CRESC members to change lives is innate.
In this blog, we will explore the many facets of Reentry; what it means, who is involved, and what it will take to help as many ex-offenders as possible in the Capital Region. We’ll do all we can to raise awareness, funds, and to lift the voices of those meeting the challenges Reentry faces in the Capital. Just like the tasks ahead of us, it won’t be easy, but we have to try. We believe that every ex-offender should have access to the services and resources necessary to maintain a productive, crime-free life. We truly do. Please join us.
'There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem.' -Eldridge Cleaver
Carita Ellis-Espola is a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She is the owner and Head Writer of PhrasePro Media Enterprises. Carita is also the current Board Secretary of CRESC.