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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Indianapolis Foundation awards thousands for crime prevention, re-entry in Marion County

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Dozens of Marion county nonprofits will receive funding to expand their community programming thanks to generous support from the Indianapolis Foundation. The Foundation, an affiliate of the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), announced $1.86 million in grants would be awarded to 42 organizations through the Community Crime Prevention Grant Program.

The grantees were chosen based on a few key factors, one being evidence of established programming that prevents violent crimes among residents, provides prevention or intervention services to adults or youth facing unique challenges, improves neighborhood safety and partners with public agencies to help or prevent crime. Preference was given to organizations that serve African-American males age 14–24 or people who have had interaction with the justice system — in particular, those in any of the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety’s six focus areas. Those areas are located around 16th Street and Tibbs Avenue, 29th and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets, 34th and Illinois streets, 38th Street and Sherman Drive, 42nd Street and Post Road, and New York Street and Sherman Drive.

Alicia Collins, CICF’s community collaborations manager, shared that prior to being given stewardship over the fund in 2013 by the City of Indianapolis, the foundation’s attention in this area was lacking.

“Before crime prevention, we weren’t focused on public safety efforts. I’ve been in community development work for a long time. How safe you feel and the level of crime are foundational pieces of a community that is thriving or a community that is on the verge of shifting the other direction,” she said.

“The foundation recognized that we weren’t doing any (crime prevention) work, and it’s all interconnected with self-sufficiency, education and access to quality food. It’s all connected, and it needs to be in the conversation.”

Tamara Winfrey-Harris, CICF’s vice president of marketing and communications, added that this action is helping to expound upon their overall organizational aim. “It’s a reflection of our mission to make the quality of life in Marion County better. Crime prevention is part of that.”

Among this year’s grant recipients are Brookside Community Church of Indianapolis, Fathers and Families Resource/Research Center, Flanner House of Indianapolis and Southside Youth Council/Reach for Youth.

David Cederquist, pastor of Brookside Community Church, said the crime prevention funds will assist in the creation of a re-entry hub that will provide holistic support for ex-offenders seeking to acclimate back into society. Brookside will receive $20,000 from the grant to help double the program’s reach. Last October, Wells Fargo donated a house to the church, which was then rehabbed using an $80,000 gift from a private funder. The house became home for a group of men who were recently released from prison and had nowhere else to go.

“We believe the church has a lot to offer to re-entry,” Cederquist said. “What we are finding are men who don’t have family … maybe their parents passed while they were incarcerated, or they were in the foster system and they really don’t have support at all. As a church, the body of Christ is called to be a family, so we facilitate these program partners and we’re moving to build up the re-entry program for those who are looking for a faith-based foundation.”

Currently, Brookside works with the Boner Center, Marion County Health Department, Narcotics Anonymous, Ila’s House Financial Health Federal Credit Union and Recycle Force to connect residents of the transitional facility to life skills training, financial education, substance abuse counseling and job placement.

Beginning Oct. 3, Brookside will launch a re-entry worship service in partnership with the Department of Correction geared toward those with offenses that prevent them from attending traditional services. “We’re hoping they can find emotional support, spiritual support,” he said, adding that other churches are welcome to join them in this effort. “There are multiple avenues that we’re trying to create that revolve around re-entry to help the recidivism rate around our nation.”

Flanner House of Indianapolis also has a focus on re-entry, in addition to the myriad community programs they offer, including a childhood development center, senior citizen center, public library branch and food access assistance (nearly 4,000 pounds of organic produce has been donated to the community this year alone through a partnership with Brandywine Creek Farm and Easley’s Farm).

For Flanner House Executive Director Brandon Cosby, the work is deeply personal. Almost eight years ago, his brother passed away shortly after being released from prison. In Cosby’s mind, the loss could have been prevented.

“I’m a firm believer that if our society was actually willing to accept the fact that individuals have paid for the mistakes they made and deserved to be in the position to move forward in a productive way, my brother would still be here,” he said.

Currently, Flanner House offers technical and soft skills training to male and female ex-offenders seeking to join the workforce. Volunteer organizations come in to conduct mock interviews, and every third Thursday of the month a job fair is held in their building at 2424 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.

“There are a number of different organizations and programs that are offered throughout the city that are all focused very similarly, saying that they are targeting individuals for re-entry, but they don’t have the historical relationship with that individual, their family or the Black community as a whole. We do have the historical credibility with the community to reach out, and we are unbelievably grateful that CICF sees us in that capacity,” said Cosby. “Without the kinds of resources that CICF is providing us, we would either be completely unable to or significantly limited in the kind of programming and offerings that we make available.”

To see a full list of the 2016 crime prevention grant recipients,click here 

RECIDIVISM RATES IN INDIANA

– Male offenders had a higher recidivism rate when compared to female offenders. Of male offenders released in 2011, 38.9 percent returned to the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC), versus 29.9 percent of female releases.

– The recidivism rate for African-American offenders was 41.7 percent that year.

– The younger the offender is at the time he/she is released, the more likely they are to return to the IDOC. Also, offenders serving less than five years with IDOC represent more than 90 percent of all recidivists.

– Of all offenders who recidivated, approximately 52 percent returned to IDOC for the commission of a new crime, compared to approximately 48 percent who returned for a technical rule or court supervision violation.

– Offenders who had zero conduct violations during their incarceration period were more than 30 percent less likely to recidivate compared to offenders who had at least one conduct violation.

– Offenders who received visits from family or friends while incarcerated were 14.4 percent less likely to recidivate compared to those who did not receive any visits.

– Offenders who participated in a work release program were nearly 31 percent less likely to return to prison, compared to offenders who did not partake in a work release program.

Source: Indiana Department of Correction, 2014

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