“Returning from prison after 20 years has been nearly as traumatizing as being in prison for that length of time. Trying to rebuild my life and reunite with my family after my long absence from their lives, and to keep my sense of self that I’d managed to reclaim while in prison, has been daunting and difficult. The community to which I returned was so different; after 16 months out of prison, I am still struck by how much changed during the time I was incarcerated.”
-Monica Cosby, WJC community organizer
When we leave prison some of the challenges we face are institutional: fulfilling parole requirements, access to food & housing, and finding a job. But some are natural consequences from being cut off from outside society for an extended period of time. We struggle to (re)connect with our families, navigate a transformed city and transportation system, and catch up on technology changes.
Project Homecoming closes that gap.
We are here to support our community no matter how long it’s been since you or your family member’s release. We know that the effects of incarceration are far reaching and long lasting.
The staff and volunteers at the Westside Justice Center have experienced the effects of incarceration from many different angles.
We are formerly incarcerated community organizers, friends and family of incarcerated individuals, attorneys, immigrants, and community members invested in building safer, stronger communities.
"I have come to believe there is a difference between ally and community. The idea of allyship to me seems to suggest a temporary connection — once a shared goal is accomplished, all the people involved go their separate ways. It is practical, yes, and necessary to have allies in any movement, but to me allyship feels very dry and dispassionate.
To me, community means something different. Within community, there is shared responsibility and accountability, caring and connection. It is understood that the health, happiness, success, security and stability of the community is directly connected to that of the individuals within it. In community, support is given where needed. Solidarity is lived, not just a word spoken."
-Monica Cosby WJC Community Organizer
The goal of Project Homecoming is not to inform callers of their resources and send them on their way; we offer long term community and solidarity with follow up, case management, and the open invitation to be part of our WJC family.
Volunteer opportunities include:
Phone and in person intakes: screen calls and provide information as a first point of contact with callers;
Individual advocacy: assist individuals in identifying supports and needs, navigating systems and attaining tools to protect their rights;
Follow up & Accompaniments: accompany individuals to community resources and government agencies;
Outreach: inform community members of WJC services and opportunities;
Content and Research: produce and compile resources to serve returning citizens and their communities.