Letter: Haven House needs community support to be successful

Women who have been released from prison and are on probation or parole are also our neighbors and co-workers. They might be one of the moms walking a child to the bus stop or they might be wait staff at a favorite restaurant. Why? Because, on average, 95 prisoners out of 100 complete their sentence and are released to again live in the community where they were first arrested.

The purpose of Haven House is to serve as a faith-based way station for a small group of women who are hoping to successfully re-enter their community. Statistics show Alaska’s recidivism rate is about 66 percent – this means of 100 prisoners released from prison, 66 will return on a new charge within three years. That figure is improving, thanks to an effort to involve the community as a stakeholder in the lives of former prisoners.

That partnership finds a home in the Juneau Reentry Coalition, which advocates for persons who are looking to re-cast their lives as productive additions to the community. The goal of the coalition is to help direct, encourage or assist those who need employment, stable housing, sober support and a safe environment.

When he signed the Second Chance Act in 2008, President George W. Bush said, “The country was built on the belief that each human being has limitless potential and worth. Everybody matters. Even those who have struggled with a dark past can find brighter days ahead.” Haven House cannot be successful in its mission without the support and partnership of the Juneau community.

Emma-Lily Schmitz,

Haven House Board Member

Juneau

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