Labor of Love: Dorchester Bay’s Reentry Program

Reentry Team - July 2016
Reverend Clovis Turner and Linda J. Mello

Recidivism is tough to overcome. A 2011 Pew Center on the States study revealed a 42.2% recidivism rate for Massachusetts, not far behind the national average of 43.3%. Difficulty finding work, struggles with drug addiction, and lack of family support are factors that make sustained reentry into communities challenging for ex-offenders.

Dorchester Bay recognized these barriers, and in 2008 launched Massachusetts’ first CDC-based program for ex-offenders. A simple desire to support returning citizens struggling to reintegrate into their communities has evolved into a multi-faceted program, which has served over 600 ex-offenders since the program was launched.

For the Reentry Team – Reverend Clovis Turner (Outreach Consultant) and Linda J. Mello (Employment Consultant) – supporting returning community members is a labor of love. They won’t take credit for their clients’ successes – clients are the real heroes for transforming their own lives – but the Reentry Team is devoted to honoring the humanity of returning community members, and utilizing every available resource to increase odds for success.

The Dorchester Bay Reentry Program relies on its long-standing partnership with the Boston Reentry Initiative (BRI) to assist returning community members. The BRI brings together faith-based organizations, law enforcement agencies (Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, Boston Police Department, and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office), community service providers (Department of Youth Services, Community Resources for Justice, and Youth Options Unlimited to name a few ), numerous training programs, and other non-profit organizations to assist ex-offenders.

Clients are referred to the program primarily by the Boston Reentry Initiative, law enforcement professionals, or word-of-mouth. Through offering support at the local prison, and providing job readiness assistance upon release, the Reentry Team assists 75 new clients yearly, with 75% of clients securing employment or entering a career training program. Of those enrolling in a General Education Development program, over 70% receive GED certificates.

The Reentry Team mentors pre-release clients, and builds on those relationships post-release through resume and cover letter assistance, career counseling, encouragement, spiritual, and other supports.  “The overwhelming support, encouragement, counseling, networking, and an abundance of resources has allowed me to survive during the unemployment stretches”, said Damon, a Dorchester Bay client. That’s preciously what the Reentry Team strives to be: a constant in the face of uncertainty.

For general information about the Dorchester Bay Reentry Program, contact Johnny Charles. If you’re an employer and want to get involved, contact Linda J. Mello.

The Reentry Program is an example of Dorchester Bay’s commitment to building a strong, thriving, and diverse community in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhoods. Please considering supporting our work here.


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