Leaving the Cycle of Violence

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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Barry Campbell
Special Assistant to the President and CEO, and Former Client  
The Fortune Society 

[The following edited excerpt is from Barry Campbell’s “Testimony of The Fortune Society,” presented on January 26, 2017 to the Joint Hearing: New York City Council Committees on Public Safety and Transportation.]

I grew up in foster and group homes, then experienced incarceration at Rikers Island, where violence was a daily part of my life. The conditions there, and in other state correctional facilities, reinforces cycles of adverse behavior in communities hit hardest by both crime and the criminal justice system at-large.

When a justice-involved individual is then released back to their communities, without support and few opportunities to build constructive lives, the risk of recidivism increases. Consequently, discussions regarding jails and prisons must include the ways in which they fuel negative behavior.

Two decades ago, when I was released from prison, I came to The Fortune Society. Here, I began substance use treatment, and took steps to build a new, more productive life. Today, I continue to give back by working with clients that are a part of Fortune’s Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) program.

The work that Fortune has done for 50 years, which I am proud to contribute to, deters crime, makes communities safer, and helps individuals come home to their communities and families as assets— not liabilities. Still, there is more work to be done.

The Fortune Society strongly supports the formation of a commission to look at the root causes of violence from a public health perspective. We ask that the commission includes examination of the impact of mass incarceration as a cause of violence, as well as proven interventions that return those incarcerated back to their communities as individuals who make their neighborhoods and families safer and stronger.

 

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