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Life After Incarceration

Submitted by Karl Cassel, Johnny Peltz, Linnae Giuliano, and Abby Murnane | Wheaton College

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this case study, readers will be able to:
1. identify major stakeholders and problems that convicts face post-
2. determine the restorative processes already that are already in place;
3. assess their effectiveness; and
4. evaluate and present a possible solution

The challenges that men and women face following several months or years in
incarceration are both vast and overwhelming. Once they are re-immersed into society,
they are immediately faced with numerous challenges. The struggle to find a source of
income, a good community, and a new place to call home with a criminal record is
extremely tough, as most - if not all - types of applications include a spot where it is
necessary for one to report any past criminal activity. This often sets people back
several steps on the road to a new life. Due to this, recidivism within the post-
incarcerated community is rampant. Fortunately, there are numerous corporations and
individuals who have made it their aim to shift the narrative for inmates who are facing
life after prison. Through accountability, mentor programs, and friendships, these men
and women are choosing to stand in the gap on behalf of those striving towards a new

The Northeast DuPage Family and Childrens Services and Addison Police:
Northeast DuPage Family and Youth Services (NEDFYS) and the Addison Police
Department serve as a restorative resource to the community of Addison and
neighboring towns. The demographics of Addison are a high single parent rate and
60% of the population is hispanic. The average income of Addison is 54,000, which is
lower than the average income of Illinois. Addison is a low income community and
contains a high percentage of minority households. The NEDFYS in Addison offers
adolescents and adults resources in order to bring restoration in their lives. They are an
organization inside the Addison Police Dept. that assists law enforcement by coming
alongside adolescents and adults who have been incarcerated or sent to them for
correction. The NEDFYS offers many different programs that are designed to educate
and bring restoration to the lives of people in trouble with the law. There main goal is to
make sure that they do not come back through the jail system. The NEDFYS sees
approximately 60% of males and 40% of females that are submitted into their programs.
They see adolescents and adults and sometimes both age groups together.
There are many stakeholders (people affected by the actions of the NEDFYS and
the Addison Police Dept.) that are involved in the NEDFYS. Wendy Nussbaum, head of
the NEDFYS, runs the organization and has 4 people on staff with volunteers who help
out as well. The staff are stakeholders because they affect the lives of the people they
are with and also can be influenced by their patients. Their patients placed into their
programs are also stakeholders because their lives are affected by Wendy Nussbaum
and her colleagues. The police, judges, probation officers, families, and the community
are all stakeholders because the stability of their lives are affected by the people who
are assigned to go through the NEDFYS.
The NEDFYS has many programs that they offer to bring restoration to the lives
of their patients. The Step-Up program is a counseling programs set up to target
teenage violence against the parent. During the counseling session the teenager and
parent are present. Their goals of this program are to have the teenager write two
letters to their parent. The first contains what they should have done and the second
letter describes the situation from the parents perspective so they can see how what
they did affected their parent/parents. Another program is the Spark Program that
targets chronic stress and trauma of adolescents and adults. This is another counseling
program that offers guidance and stress/trauma management. The goal of this program
is to eliminate the PTSD that is the source of their criminal actions and implement
preventative measures so that this doesnt haunt them again. The Wait program offers
anger management training. This program provides counseling to kids that have been
pulled out of school because of aggressive displays of anger. This class is offered 3
times a week. All these programs are in place to offer restoration to the lives of people
in the criminal justice system that are sent to the NEDFYS by the judge. Nussbaum
stressed that it was important to develop relationships and constant engagement with
the people in their system.
After the people are done with a program, Wendy Nussbaum and her colleagues
follow up with them 30 days, 60 days, and a year after they have let out back into
society. She said that the see some of the same people again, but if they commit
another crime the judge is not often as gracious and sends them to prison instead of the
programs offered by the NEDFYS. Nussbaum says that the best case scenario is that
proper conflict resolution is achieved and the worse case scenario is that the parent of a
violent teen comes back to a counseling session with bruises and cuts. The success of
their programs is pretty good and they see a better percentage of their patients dont
come back than the percentage of people in Illinois placed back into prison which is
about 60% within three years.

DuPage Probation & Court Services:

The DuPage Probation & Court Services is an established program with a clear
mission: We are dedicated to achieving justice by employing proven strategies to
change offenders' values and beliefs, build their competency skills and hold them
accountable. The result is reduced recidivism, victim reparation, improved public safety
and enhanced quality of life for our citizens (Probation & Court Services). The major
stakeholders of this organization are Karen Sobczak, program supervisor; Thor Saline,
program manager; and Russell Saley, probation officer. The other side of stakeholders
are the adults and youth in the criminal justice system that have been referred to this
service. The last major stakeholder of this organization is the parents of the youth
involved as the parents are instrumental in building effective habits and relationships in
the home.
The problems within the organizations line of work is two fold. The
misinterpretation and misjudgement paired with the negative stigmas surrounding
mental health problems create great difficulties within law enforcement as well as
probation services. Many areas of mental health are overlooked and ignored, causing
frustration and confusion among victims and their families. The area of mental health
and the routes to help those suffering with mental health issues is not very black and
white, rather a gray area in need of solutions. The other problem is the lack of funding
the probation services receives from the state. There is constant reductions in funding
from the state that causes increasing stress on programs such as this.
Looking back at stakeholders, the program has three main divisions of clients
within their program: the traditional client which includes the full spectrum and is not as
severe of a case, the intensive client which is in for a repeated or more serious crime,
and mental health clients which includes bipolar, personality disorder, suicidal, and
homicidal. Karen Sobczak oversees the Juvenile Intensive Probation Program and the
Strong Roots Program which are therapy outlets for clients to deal with their problems.
This can include individual and family therapy and can be voluntary or mandated by a
court. Russell Saley is a probation officer and works with his clients hands on in a more
relational setting. His work consists of working with at risk youth and those with mental
health problems. Thor Saline also works to oversee programs within the Probation &
Court Services.
The restorative process in place within the DuPage Probation & Court Services is
the relational counseling through the probation office. The strategies used within this
process include humor to break down barriers between probation officers and clients as
well as disclosure to hopefully be reciprocated by the client. The officers build
relationships with the client and their family to build a less subjective relationship with
the client and understand their situation.
The goals of the DuPage Probation & Court Services is to get their clients back
into an optimal way of life which includes the proper education, employment, a
structured daily schedule and grasp of financial responsibilities. Success is seen in this
organization through clients becoming more independent and entering new
environments successfully. Success can also be measured if clients complete their
probation meetings successfully and are not charged with any new convictions.

I Have a Bean:
One company that aims to alter life for men and women navigating post-
incarceration is Second Chance Coffee Company. On their website, I Have a Bean
identifies that a large problem associated within the criminal justice system is recidivism.
More than 12,000 of the 20,000 prisoners annually released in Illinois are re-
incarcerated within three years of release. As stated on their website: The cycle of
recidivism is a ubiquitous tale of wasted lives and victimized communities that is
repeated among the nearly 1,000,000 post-prison people in communities across our
nation each year (I Have a Bean). In order to fight back against this massive problem of
unemployment amongst ex-convicts, Pete Leonard, CEO of I Have a Bean and Second
Chance Coffee Company, employs those coming out of prison in order to use every
part of our business to love our neighbor as ourselves to positively impact the spiritual,
social and economic condition of our employees, their families and the communities in
which they live (I Have a Bean). They aim to instill pride in the men and women they
employ over what they do. Second Chance Coffee Company uses what society
understands to be the bottom 1%, the incarcerated, to produce the top 1% of the
highest quality coffee of the world.
Pete Leonard is no stranger to what life looks like after incarceration. Rick, Petes
brother-in-law, was arrested and detained due to his attempt to buy sex online. The
woman he was in contact with just so happened to be an undercover cop, and Rick
was incarcerated for nine months. Rick is a computer genius who was once a coveted
asset to any company in his field. After he was released from prison, however, Pete and
his wife witnessed Rick get denied time and again from companies due to his criminal
record. As Pete disclosed, the minute that Rick would explain why he was given his
sentence, he was shown the door. The job search was turning up empty, and eventually
his financial situation got so bad that he ultimately had to sell his house and move back
in with his parents. Rick was a good person who made a very poor decision in choosing
to entertain prostitution, and his one mistake had literally altered his career, future, and
his whole life.
In 2007, Pete started his company, the Second Chance Coffee Company, which
operates under the name I Have a Bean, in order to provide employment to his
talented brother-in-law as well as other men and women who were dealing with a similar
predicament. I Have a Bean hired their first round of fresh convicts and set to work.
Leonard created his own coffee-roasting machine that brought his employees from a
two-year process of learning how to roast quality coffee, to having it perfectly roasted at
the simple push of a button. This was both extremely effective and necessary, as his
employees are typically in and out of a post incarceration ministry house within 15
months. The rather quick turnover rate - where men and women are first employed, and
then moving on to future endeavors - provides plenty opportunities of new employment
for those who are just getting out of prison. Every day, the employees of Second
Chance roast their coffee and have it delivered within a few hours of it being ordered, so
that their customers may enjoy the freshest coffee one can find.
The major stakeholders involved are Pete Leonard and his family, full-time
employees, the ex-convicts who are being provided jobs and dignity through this
organization, and the families and communities that will ultimately benefit from reduced
recidivism. Pete also treats each of his employees with the utmost level of dignity and
respect - he treats them as he would a normal person. A powerful tool that Pete Leonard
is using in order to instill his employees with dignity is trust. He desires for his
employees to both feel and be treated as individuals worthy of a future set apart from
the life of crime they have left behind. Because of this, each employee is given a key to
the roasting plant, and despite only a few let downs, his employees have thrived under
the responsibilities bestowed on them. The dignity Pete gives to the men and women
who have passed through his company has set them up for success in the future, as
many have gone on to accept various jobs and opportunities following their time with I
Have a Bean.
Aware that employment is not the sole solution to this massive problem, the
Second Chance Coffee Company works closely with other Christian, post-prison
support organizations that aid in counseling, mentorship programs, and overall life skills
training. Pete and the other company leaders also seek to maintain strong friendships
and mentorship relationships with each of their employees once they move on, as they
seek to end the pattern of recidivism in America.

Juvenile Justice Judge Bob Anderson:

Judge Bob Anderson works at the Dupage County Courthouse as a juvenile
justice judge.Judge Anderson sees a majority of youth that come through the criminal
justice system. Within the justice system he is one of the biggest stakeholders in
determining the direction that the juveniles go. Besides the judge the government and
law are also major stakeholders. This is due to the fact that there are some situations
that even the judges cannot get around. The government in some cases has the ability
to have the final say in a decision whether or not the judge agrees with it. The other
major stakeholders are the juveniles and their families. The juvenile has the most at
stake out of everyone since they are the ones facing the biggest problem which many
times can be going to jail or prison. The families on the other hand are faced with many
issues financially, emotionally and mentally. Each group of stakeholders work together
but still play very different roles.
When talking to Judge Anderson his main goal with being a juvenile judge was to
keep as many youth out of jail and to help them get onto a better and healthier path.
Even though he must sentence the youth he still tries to be as light as possible. He sees
the problem of youth incarceration and is trying to do his best to end the cycle of mass
youth incarceration. Judge Anderson was very aware of his duties to the county as well
as his duty to the youth. His duty to give them a fighting chance to do better. When
looking at the government they tend to have a different perspective. Due to the way the
government is set up there has become an issue of youth incarceration, for whatever
reason that is. The government and law enforcement's interest are to keep the country
running as smoothly as possible and keep the criminals off the streets. Now looking at
the other side, which is the youth being incarcerated, their main issue is clearly the fact
that they are in major trouble and are being punished for whatever crime they commited
big or small. In many cases they may feel trapped with no hope especially looking at the
rates that others are being arrested and thrown in jail. One main interest would be to
stay out of jail and to not be in any trouble. There are always studies of people
wrongfully accused but in many cases it is a scared kid who did something wrong,
regrets it and is hoping to avoid maximum punishment. Hoping that the judge and
government will go easy on them. The family aspect is interesting when it comes to their
interests and position. Judge Anderson talked about how many of the youth show up to
court with either one parent or none at all. He said the key indicator of whether or not
that child would be back in court at some point in their life has to do with family support.
In many cases the family would be there supporting and fighting for their child and
willing to help them get on a better path but in other cases the families want their child
to be punished and want them to reap what they sowed. Some families support the
work of the government but others believe that the government is unjust. The juvenile
justice system can get very messy with all of these aspects affecting the already bad
The biggest problem is not just one youth getting incarcerated. It is the increase
in the youth being incarcerated. Within these past few years the numbers have
skyrocketed. But, it is not just about the youth it is also an issue of race. The rate that
young African-American men being incarcerated is also on the rise. Judge Anderson did
not really speak on this in Dupage County as a hole but he acknowledged this epidemic
in our country. This has been a huge debate in our country especially when looking at
the issue of race. What is it exactly that makes African-American males more likely to be
arrested and thrown in jail? In a study done in Washington D.C. by the department of
justice showed that within only a few years the number of African-American
incarcerations increased from 100,000 to 900,000. 1 of every 3 African American males
born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can 1 of every 6 Latino males,
compared to 1 in 17 White males. For women, the overall figures are considerably
lower, but the racial/ethnic disparities are similar: 1 of every 18 African American
females, 1 of every 45 Hispanic females, and 1 of every 111 White females can expect
to spend time in prison (Mauer, 2). Most crimes are either unreported or do not result in
an arrest, there is no overall measurement of the number of crimes committed or the
demographics of those engaged in criminal behavior (Mauer, 3). Judge Anderson
discussed that one of the biggest causes of this problem is the years and years of
brokenness and corruption within our government. The problem is not always the youth
just being bad but it is the system and society that does not encourage better. It is the
parents who stopped caring. It is the officers profiling and being unfair at times. It is the
judges who would rather see the kids locked up and not given a fighting chance. It is the
government who continues to not change and continues to allow the cycle. Although this
is a multifaceted issue that does not mean that the youth never have any part in it, it will
always be bigger than the crimes they commit.

Each site leader who was interviewed alluded to the necessity of relationships for post-
convicts far after they have been released. The problems with post-incarceration and
recidivism go hand-in-hand, as most men and women go back to their old ways
because they immediately get rejected by society, and see no other option for
themselves. There are men and women who work in various businesses, ministries,
non-profits, and the judicial system who are changing the way that life after
incarceration is approached. Criminals will continue to feed back into the prison system
if there are not people at the helm of these programs who are pouring love into their
lives as sometimes, all that is needed to change a trajectory is love - not a program to
try and fix their psychological state. A large part of the equation has to do with the
employees who are choosing to work on this issue. A part of the solution should be
found in the hiring process. There should be an interview system which makes sure that
the people who run these programs will offer their hearts to these men and women - not
just a quick fix. Going off of the current trajectory of recidivism in America, the
nationwide issue of incarceration will simply not be solved by creating more programs
and establishing new ways for former criminals to attempt to create a foundation in
society. A lasting solution is going to come out of one-to-one relationships which stem
from a genuine love for the patients that are in these prison/disciplinary programs.

Anderson, Bob. "DuPage County Courthouse." Personal interview. 21 Apr. 2016.
Leonard, Pete. "I Have a Bean." Personal interview. 12 Apr. 2016.

Nussbaum, Wendy. "Addison Police Department." Personal interview. 14 Apr. 2016.

Saline, Thor, Russell Saley, and Karen Sobczak. "DuPage County Probation
Department." Personal interview. 21 Apr. 2016.

"I Have a Bean!: About Us." I Have a Bean! N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.

Folger, Joseph P., Marshall Scott Poole, and Randall K. Stutman. Working Through
Conflict: Strategies for Relationships, Groups, and Organizations. New York:
Longman, 1997. Print.

Mauer, Marc. "Addressing Racial Disparities in Incarceration." The Prison Journal 91.3
Supplement (2011): n. pag. Web. 4 May 2016.

"Probation & Court Services." DuPage County IL Official Website. DuPage County, n.d.
Web. 04 May 2016.

"Social Services." Village of Addison Police Department. Addison Police Department,

n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.