Finding Hope Through I-CAN: Deniz’s Story

Finding Hope Through I-CAN: Deniz’s Story


For individuals with justice involvement, the road to reentry begins long before they are released from incarceration. Social stigma and other barriers make preparing for their future in the community while behind bars vital to their ability to move forward from their past and lead productive lives.  

 As Dabney Hall, an individual who spent 40 years in prison, noted:

“I have a plan. That’s the key thing.”

The Fortune Society’s I-CAN (Individualized Corrections Achievement Network) program helps incarcerated individuals plan for their release in a number of essential areas. These include assisting in the application process for identification documents, hosting parenting classes, relapse prevention workshops, hard skills employment workshops, and more. Currently available in all Rikers Island facilities, the program also providereentry support to participants following their release back into the community.  

Deniz Halilov joined Fortune’s I-CAN program while at Rikers. His time in jail marked an important period of self-reflection and growth, something his I-CAN Group Facilitator, Norma Usher, was happy to support.

“Jail forced me to slow down and evaluate my life. Did I want to continue my previous lifestyle, or make a change for myself and my young daughter?”

The communication and money management skills acquired in his I-CAN workshops gave Deniz a bedrock of support, in order to ensure that his family could thrive in security and stability once he was released. Though it still felt overwhelming to return back to his community after three months in jail, The Fortune Society never left his side. Counselors Simone Schultz and Jose Rodriguez continually gave him guidance as he navigated the rough terrain of reentry. 

“…the services at Fortune provided much-needed structure in my life. With so many opportunities available, it was easy to keep busy and maintain my sobriety.”

Today, Deniz works two jobs, volunteers in the community, and is the father his daughter needs. I-CAN was the starting point for this success. No longer tangled in a web of substance use and incarceration, Deniz can see life for the possibilities it contains.

“At Fortune, there are good vibes and positivity as soon as you walk through the door,” he says, “Now, I enjoy life and all the opportunities it has to offer.”

Deniz Halilov, a participant at The Fortune Society

Read more stories of reentry success and life after Rikers Island in our June 2018 issue of The Fortune News. 

Article by Root Stitches LLC

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