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Reentrant Returns to Dallas to Encourage Inmates, Support New Program

Tags: Dallas
November 02, 2023 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

Reentrant John Solomon and SCI Dallas Dr. Ashton stand in front of the flags at the entrance of SCI Dallas.

​On Oct. 23, SCI Dallas' new pilot program, AIR (Alternative Influences and Responses) Project, hosted a guest speaker. The AIR Project is a structured mentoring program designed by a committee of elder inmates. The program is created to bridge the gap between the youth and elders through vulnerable conversations, engage in psychoeducation about a healthy way to see the future and function, and gain understanding of how their development shaped their current circumstances.  It is a program assembled to change the negative -- yet real -- perception that exists between the youth and elders, with a goal of encouraging change and to reconfigure a new way of doing their time, and eventually living their lives in the community. The belief is that younger offenders may be at a turning point while in state prison, and the guidance they receive from positive role models that understand their lived experience could reduce chaos and violence within their lives. It consists of large group meetings and one on one mentoring sessions using the Chapel Bench in our infinity garden. This program is akin to a community based/public health strategy of reducing and preventing violence.

The guest speaker, John Solomon, was released from SCI Dallas eight years ago, and since his return to the community has made significant changes in his life. Solomon is a North Philly native who, after being a participant in community violence, started Endangered Kind, a nonprofit founded to “rebuild those that have been abandoned in the streets.” Endangered Kind specializes in peer support services, violence intervention, and providing resources to those seeking to avoid violence and be a positive influence in their neighborhood. He works in reducing gun violence in the 39th police district. He has been appointed by the mayor of Philadelphia to be one of the members of the police oversight commission for this district. His lived experience in this area is seen as a positive aspect, a necessary wisdom needed to aid in violence prevention.

The individuals that participated in the talk were very grateful and the information expressed was well received. Dr. Ashton, along with the inmate committee for the AIR project expressed their gratitude to Superintendent Ransom for the unique experience.

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