Our legal system has always been posed with many obstacles. Prosecution, conviction, and incarceration are all part of our legal rehabilitation process, yet none of these steps are as challenging to officials then the idea of convicts re-entering normal life once released from prison. In places like Jersey City, officials are doing everything possible to reduce re-incarceration rates through programs that give jobs, training and basic rehabilitation to those who seek it. One of these paramount programs is called Same Sky America, which is helping female ex-convicts to reintegrate into their community once released from Hudson County Jail.
Same Sky has seen so much success abroad that Jersey City Mayor Fulop and Former Gov. McGreevey asked the organization, founded in the country of Rwanda, to bring the program to New Jersey.
Same Sky Rwanda, founded by Francine LeFrak, is a company that provides jobs for women struggling to lift themselves out of poverty and trains them to become jewelry artisans. Their jewelry is then sold globally and they are paid 15 to 20 times the average wage in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Janet Nkubana, is LeFrak’s partner on the ground in Rwanda at Gahaya Links. She says Same Sky is restoring their value as women because it got them off the street. It gave them dignity as mothers and provided for them with jobs.
“Same Sky’s work with the women in Rwanda is very important, because these are women who survived the genocide, who lost everybody, but then pick up other children from the streets and take care of them. And these are women living with HIV,” Nkubana says.
The program’s success in Africa is a testament to why Mayor Fulop and Former Gov. McGreevey want it to plant roots in Jersey City, which has the third highest number of people in jail in the state with recidivism rates far above the national average. They plan to highlight their reentry initiative at a conference in April.
Whether approved or not, this new initiative goes to show the dedication certain officials have to keep released prisoners from going back to a life of crime and poverty.Watch Chasing New Jersey weeknights at 10pm on My9 and don’t forget to like us on Facebook!