From Prison to Productivity:
Creating New Paths to Freedom and Why it Matters
Monday, September 19
6:30 p.m. Reception in the Gallery
with exhibit of Prison Outreach Program pieces
7:00 p.m. Speaking Program followed by discussion
Pictured above is N.H. Prison Outreach student. Photo by Jim Cole, AP
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – 15 years ago, at the urging of Superior Court Justice Kathleen McGuire, the N.H. Furniture Masters created the Prison Outreach Program to provide woodworking instruction to N.H. prisoners. No student in the program who has been released from prison has ever reoffended. In the last few years, the program expanded to Maine and met with the same success. The Masters non-profit arm recently reincorporated as the American Furniture Masters Institute with the mission of expanding the program to even more states.
Roger Myers, Chair of the Institute, will reintroduce the non-profit to the general public and show examples of Prison Outreach work on exhibit at 3S ArtSpace. He will be joined by Furniture Master and Prison Outreach instructor, Terry Moore, Wilmot, N.H., and former student, Donald Briere, New England Custom Woodturning, Brentwood, N.H. Briere recently won the 2016 Best in Show Award at the Living with Crafts Exhibition, League of N.H. Craftsmen Annual Sunapee Crafts Fair. He also won the award in 2009.
Myers said, ‘Donald Briere is a perfect example of a Prison Outreach student who has left the prison system with marketable skills and was able to start a new career and a new life. We couldn’t be more proud of his success.’
Myers also invited Stefany Shaheen, Portsmouth, N.H., and N.Y. Times bestselling author of Elle & Coach: Diabetes, the Fight for my Daughter’s Life, and the Dog who Changed Everything, to participate in the discussion. Coach was trained by a prisoner as a service dog and is now able to detect changes in blood sugar levels.
Shaheen remarked, ‘My daughter, Elle, benefits directly every day from Coach’s life saving skills and his arrival brought an enormous sense of well being to our entire family. Each dog trained provides that same security to others living with diabetes, seizure disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, mobility and other challenges and their loved ones. We are forever grateful for this program and to the people who train these extraordinary dogs.’
Roger Myers, Terry Moore, Donald Briere, and Stefany Shaheen will share their personal stories about the impact of prison rehabilitative programs. Following the speaking program, there will be a panel discussion and book signing. The event is free and open to the public.
Why it matters:
The N.Y. Times reported that illegal drugs and alcohol helped lead to the imprisonment of four out of five inmates in the nation’s prisons and jails. With the epidemic rise of opiates, the rehabilitative skills learned in prison become even more important to prevent reusing and reoffending after release.
Each prisoner has a unique story. Success after a prison term will be up to the individual but providing marketable skills through rehabilitative training programs may make that difference. The cost to society of repeat offenders in terms of impact of crime, repeated drug use, lost productive years, and taxpayer funding must also be considered.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013. The fee to cover the average cost of incarceration for Federal inmates in Fiscal Year 2014 was $30,619.85 per prisoner.
We are pleased to offer tonight’s program to explore two very different examples of rehabilitative training in U.S. prisons that create new paths to freedom and help to prevent a return to prison.