Friday, September 21, 2007

Home For Good in Oregon

Informational gathering on Oregon Dept. of Justice's
Speaker: Rev. Furlton Burns, First Covenant Church
Regional Re-entry Chaplain
Friday, September 21, 7 pm
Portland Dharma Center, 2514 SE Madison St.

DRZC and BPF Portland invite any who wish to know more about Oregon Dept of Justice's program "Home For Good."

Ex-prisoners are less likely to commit crimes again if they are integrated safely into the community. "Home For Good" is Oregon's program that includes faith communities in that effort. Prisoners need the Three Refuges when they are in prison, and they need the Refuges when they are released. The time is ripe for a Buddhist welcome for them when they are released.

This could be the beginning of a Buddhist participation in Portland. Rev. Furlton will give information on the program, on becoming a chaplain and/or a volunteer in the program.

For a solid Buddhist program to flourish in Portland, participation by interested Buddhists across Sangha lines will be needed. Dharma Rain Zen Center is willing to take point, and welcomes potential volunteers from other communities.

It is the hope of BPF Portland that this could be the first in a series of Engaged Buddhist cooperative efforts. We will be glad to serve as a conduit for other aspects of Engaged Buddhism.

That link again: http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/TRANS/religious_services/rs_hgo_program.shtml


1 comment:

BPF Portland said...

Home for Good is a structure that allows partnership, not a program itself. The programs come out of the communities. Communities have many good reasons to want formerly incarcerated people to make it on the outside and help them do that.

It costs around $8 million dollars to keep 150 people in prison for 2 1/2 years (the average sentence). Remember the drive for mandatory minimums? Many of those folks are due to be released. Most people returning to life outside are settling along the I-5 corridor, and many of those in the Portland area.

Two things bring people back to prison: their thoughts; and the people they associate with. 52% of the prison population attend faith-based services. They have a better chance if they retain those associations. Often prisoners have burned their bridges with their family, and often they have lost family. They need community to help fill those gaps.

Communities are destabilized due to incarceration. Fathers, mothers, workers are absent. A child with an incarcerated parent is more likely to become incarcerated.

Regarding Buddhist involvement:
-HFG will provide a training for us if we have 5 or more people who wish to train to be volunteers or chaplains, otherwise people can join other scheduled trainings (BPF Portland is on their email list.)
-If someone leaving incarceration is looking for Buddhist support, HFG would contact the Buddhist community participants.
-volunteers draw upon personal skills. some may want the extended relationship, which could be expected to be about 18 months. some may want to be a chaplain, more in the role of leader, coordinator. some may want to help in the role of meeting people at the bus, helping them get to appointments, etc. Some people may have access to employment or places to live.
-It's all about the relationship. From someone who's been doing this, "The biggest thing you can do is being there, supporting them."
-There are currently no Buddhists in the HFG program
-HFG can help connect us to resources, such as resource lists. Central City is a one-stop place for many ex-prisoners in Portland.

Next steps:
-the modules on the website are preliminary "homework"
http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/TRANS/religious_services/rs_hgo_training.shtml
-there is a day-long training for all volunteer roles, after that training splits off for chaplains, volunteers in support/mentor/buddy roles, etc
-BPF Portland will continue to provide support to Dharma Rain in getting this started and referring interested volunteers