Reentry Bridge Network helps transition ex-prisoners back into the community through services offered to engage the offenders and their families in creating safe communities.
RBN provides strength-based, family-focused assessment and develops comprehensive case management plans that link ex-offenders to bestpractice, needs-based programs, said Carol E. Briney, executive director.
In January 2010, Reentry Bridge Network established a national office in the Community Campus at Goodwill in Canton. And the new RBN Center for performing arts and reentry resources and support in the campus opened in December.
“The RBN Center embraces the performing arts as an innovative and holistic approach with a set of practices for self-expression, emotional healing, cognitive problem-solving skills and positive community engagement and social capital,” Briney said.
The network has published two anthologies of prisoner writing and artworks called “Prison Coffee Table Book Project.” It features the art and creative writings of prisoners. The purpose of the series is to provide venues for prisoners to have an expressive voice in societies outside their walls, Briney said. Reentry Bridge Network believes that recognizing individuals ultimately leads to reduced recidivism and a healthier environment.
Briney was awarded Volunteer of the Year in 2009 for her work at Richland Correctional Institution. She has worked in prisons throughout the country since 2005. Briney designs and facilitates on-site prison programs that promote education, vocational training and social skills.
In conjunction with these programs, RBN partners with universities and private libraries to expand holdings in prison libraries. In the last two years, about 4,000 books have been donated to this drive.
RBN includes community-service programs inside the prisons, such as Handmade Easter Baskets for Kids At-Risk; Stocking Caps for Kids At-Risk: Greeting Cards for Community; Vermiculture for Community Gardens; Proper Education Prevents Incarceration Anti-Gang events.
“The core of all of our programming, whether for adult or children, is to establish personal value in individuals,” Briney said. “After all, if an individual cannot see value in themselves, how can we expect them to see value in their victim or their environment?
“The lack of grief and loss coping skills is the foundation for a lot of acting out that snowballs into crime and prison time. Recognizing that we have to go back and identify the beginning of this chain reaction, RBN designed a program to address this concern — basically, stopping the train wreck of loss.”
More than 200 pieces of art are on display throughout the RBN Center. The Visual Arts Studio at the RBN Center offers workshops and exhibitions of original artwork created by ex-offenders, at-risk family members and inmates. Hands-on art workshops are designed for self-expression, healing, problem-solving and growth.
REENTRY BRIDGE NETWORK
WHAT: Reentry resources, performing arts, and support groups for formerly incarcerated people, their families, and families of inmates.
BOARD MEMBERS: Carol E. Briney, executive director; Mark Frisone, Richard Hall, Clinton Kifolo, Laura Lyn Wissler, Alicia D. McDonald, Michael Olin-Hitt, Jerrold O. Ming, Raymond Towler Carole Beaty, James Corrin Jr., and Marie Holland.
DONATIONS: Donations benefit programs. Mail tax-deductible donations to Reentry Bridge Network, Goodwill Campus, 408 Ninth St. SW, Canton, OH 44707.