19 May, 2018


          Many at-risk children – boys, girls, male adolescent youths, and female adolescent youths – make their journey from childhood to adulthood in communities that are immersed in economic turpitude, crime, violence, and spiritual, emotional, and psychological toxicity.  The landscape of these communities is dotted with abandoned houses and storefront buildings, “stop-and-go” businesses, and vacant lots -- devoid of legitimate real-life options and many of the essential resources, support services, and tools that young souls need to mature into productive, successful, and well-adjusted adults.  Upon their release, Juvenile Lifers and incarcerated youths will pour into these communities.  For the most part, they will return to these communities in the same condition they left -- uneducated, unskilled, unemployable, and in dire need of mental and physical health resources and support services.   These marginalized souls need a “hand up” and a “way out”.   For these souls, the SCI Graterford, PA LIFERS Public Safety Initiative, a component of OPERATION FRESH START ™ is the “hand up” and “way out”. Crafted by The Honorable James M. DeLeon, a highly respected and veteran jurist in the Criminal Court Division of Philadelphia’s Municipal Court, OPERATION FRESH START ™ is being heralded as a Global Model for eradicating recidivism and creating pathways to reintegration and redemption for formerly incarcerated souls.       

          The SCI Graterford, PA LIFERS Public Safety Initiative has expanded its focus on at-risk boys, to include girls, incarcerated youths, and Juvenile Lifers.  Mentoring and changing the mindset, behavior, and decision making of at-risk boys, girls and incarcerated youths is the objective of the SCI Graterford, PA LIFERS Public Safety Initiative.  It is an objective that the Interfaith Community will help to accomplish through the establishment and operation of Transformational Centers in churches and mosques throughout the City of Philadelphia.  Designed by a brilliant group of Thought Leaders who crafted the SCI Graterford, PA LIFERS Public Safety Initiative, the Transformational Centers will mentor at-risk boys, girls, and incarcerated youths who lack access to positive adult role models and legitimate real-life options – to move them to reflect on their behavior, appreciate the community in which they reside, and to realize their worthiness and the potential they possess and must explore.  Yet, mentoring and changing the mindset, behavior, and decision making of these souls is just one key “piece of the puzzle” to helping them rise above the conditions of their environment, reach their full potential, and access legitimate real-life-options.

           Many incarcerated youths and Juvenile Lifers, upon the completion of their sentences and release from correctional facilities, are homeless; lack high school diplomas and vocational training, household management and money management skills; and have very limited, if any, access to mental and physical health resources and support services.  In other words, they lack the very things that are essential to their successful reintegration into society.  Under the OPERATION FRESH START™ -- SCI Graterford, PA LIFERS Public Safety Initiative banner, a “Plan Of Action” will be crafted which will connect – with all deliberate speed --  Juvenile Lifers who have been released from correctional facilities and youths currently involved in the juvenile justice and adult correctional system with the necessary resources, support services, and tools they will need to successfully transition into society after years and even decades of institutionalization.   Providing these souls with among other things, housing, household management skills, vocational training, money management skills, and entrepreneurial skills is giving them a “hand up” and a “way out”. 

            Imagine, if you will, hundreds upon hundreds of incarcerated youths and Juvenile Lifers streaming into our communities who have access to housing and mental and physical health resources and support services . . . who have household management and money management skills . . . who have vocational skills and entrepreneurial training  . . . who are employable and employed . .  and who are creating their own businesses and will be able to offer employment to members of their communities.   These souls who were once marginalized are now empowered . . . hopeful . . . purpose-driven.   They are purchasing homes and properly maintaining households as a direct result of being equipped with access to housing and household and money management skills.   They have jobs and careers.  For those newly empowered souls who embarked upon an entrepreneurial career path, not only are these souls creating a career and employment for themselves, they are also creating legitimate real-life options in their communities.  They are renovating abandoned storefront buildings in their communities and transforming them into stores and business offices.  At the same time, we have at-risk children – boys, girls, adolescent males, and adolescent females --- who have undergone a mentoring process at the Transformational Centers established in their communities.   These young souls – the Next Generation Of Leaders and “Emerging Keepers Of The Planet” -- now know and understand their “worthiness”; how they are connected to their communities; and how their behavior, decision making, and mindset impacts everyone.

            Let’s take a step back and look at what is unfolding here.   The SCI Graterford, PA LIFERS Public Safety Initiative does more than give a “hand up” and a “way out” to at-risk children, youths, Juvenile Lifers and incarcerated juveniles.   It gives entire communities a “hand up” and a “way out” of an expansive and paralyzing cloud of economic turpitude.    It resuscitates communities that are dying a slow death – a slow death brought on by the spiritual, emotional, and psychological toxicity that economic turpitude, lack of legitimate real-life options, and a vacuum in compassionate and solutions-based leadership creates.

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