Justice: Release, Reentry, and Reintegration 

Reentry is the process of people in correctional facilities transitioning back into the community. Our reentry team meets with individuals face to face before they are released to prepare them for integration into the community of their choice. ADA Reentry recognizes that the “cookie cut” model of reentry does not work especially when it comes to individuals with disabilities. Often times these individuals are overlooked and underserved while incarcerated. ADA Reentry creates an Individualized Reentry Plan (IRP) with the individual who they are serving. This process allows the individual to be empowered to participate in their own reentry process by identifying the needed resources and supports to assist them once they are returned back into society. ADA Reentry then supports them at every step of that process to ensure that they have the resources and encouragement to be successful post-release. Due to the nature of the grant that funds this program being through DHHS TBI, individuals must be diagnosed with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability (I/DD) or have a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or suspected TBI to receive these services.

The primary services provided by the reentry team include housing, employment, benefits, mental health and substance abuse resources, travel training, independent living skills, vital records, and driver’s license restoration resources. ADA Reentry works closely with the Department of Adult Corrections (DAC) to facilitate successful reentry for all consumers prerelease and then works with family members and Probation and Parole to support post release.

If you or someone you know fits with the following criteria and would like to receive services, please fill out the reentry referral form on our website at https://adanc.org/reentry-referral/.

  • Justice involved (pre- or post-release)
  • Has an I/DD or a TBI
  • Lives in Wake, Franklin, Johnston, Orange, Durham, Beaufort, Wilson, or Pitt Counties
To learn more about why this work is important, check out this article from NC Health News: “We can make more success stories”: State leaders mobilize to strengthen reentry support.

For more information, please see the Executive Order from Governor Cooper.
Staff Member standing in front of Governors Mansion
Our role with the NCCDD, NCDPS and other partners will demonstrate a significant reduction in the recidivism rate among incarcerated individuals with I/DD (II I/DD) who choose to participate. Alliance of Disability Advocates will use strategies developed in its successful federal prison model based on 1:1 peer support. Evidence supports our strategies and includes testimonials, letters of endorsement from the Federal Correctional Complex at Butner, and first-hand experiences of the former prisoners who received services and the staff who supported them.

Purpose and Goals

ADANC will work to improve transition outcomes after incarceration for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (I/DD) as well as people with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs). The goal is to reduce recidivism such that at least 80% of participants live in the community successfully for 7 years. Transitioning into and living in the community with the supports and services necessary to thrive is a component of this initiative.
  • 80% will secure a job interview, complete a travel training program, and/or express satisfaction with peer support and post-release services
  • Identify personal goals and resource needs 12-18 months prior to release
  • Develop a plan to start acquiring the skills to meet those goals.
This initiative focuses on recidivism reduction (re-arrests, reconviction, or reincarceration) by expanding successful practices for reintegration into the community from incarceration for individuals with I/DD and TBIs.

Individual Reentry Plan

Our certified Peer Support professionals in the Reentry program allow anxieties about reentry to be expressed. We sit with them, listen to their story, ask about their goals of:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Applying for social services benefits
  • Mental health and substance abuse resources after their release

Our Community Inclusion Specialists (CIS) establish a relationship with each person and create an Individualized Reentry Plan that actively involves each consumer in the development of their goals for their life on the outside. ADA has firsthand knowledge and experience of what is required/needed for reentry as well as a peer support system that understands the struggles, apprehension, fear, and uncertainty of the reentry process.

Reentry Team

Sharif Brown headshot

Sharif Brown

Director of Reentry

Sharif Brown has over 20 years of personal experience because of a brother who has been in & out of prison, highlighting the need for effective reentry programs. He started and tested this IRP model in 2016 and has assisted over 242 individuals at Butner, providing intensive reentry services for individuals released to the Triangle over the last several years before transitioning this model to state prisons.

Wayne Bell

Community Inclusion Specialist

Wayne Bell headshot

James Smith

Community Inclusion Specialist

James Smith headshot

Context

Adrian Boone was the first consumer of our Reentry program. This is his experience.

Brios Media Presents: Adrian’s Second Chance 

This year, more than 600,000 people will be released from U.S. state and federal prisons. Statistics clearly show that without work, a home, or a path ahead, many will become repeat offenders. 

Adrian Boone: Growing up as a kid, I had a pretty good life. My father was successful. He was a Maryland state trooper. Although he and my mother were separated, I had an awesome stepdad who raised me.  What happened within my family, addiction had came into my household and it dismantled my family. And I believe my older siblings and myself were trying to figure out a way to help support the family financially and that’s when I began to indulge in activities that ultimately led me to prison. 

It wasn’t just like immediately stepped out of the house and walked up to the local drug dealer said can I work for you, that wasn’t the case. At the time I was probably 12 turning 13, I found out from a friend in school that you could actually work at 16 years old but you had to have a work permit and have it signed by the counselor, so I got a work permit from the counselor and forged to my mother’s signature on it and started working at a fast food restaurant in east point mall. So eventually I wound up quitting the job because I couldn’t maintain it at 13, 14 years old. Trying to figure out other ways to make money and I knew the activities that were going on close to my neighborhood was always there and readily available so I kind of made it known that I was interested. I was considered too young at that time and inexperienced at that time, so we were what they call lookouts. Lookouts are basically the guys who look out for the police to come and alert the guys who actually are doing the hand-to-hand transactions.

Within a few years, Adrian was already participating in hand-to-hand transactions and heavily involved with other dealers.

There was so much money around there that the other drug dealers in the area, the other crews, became envious. It started with fist fights at the corner store. We ran into them, they ran into us, and it escalated from fistfights to actual gun violence. I had several friends who were shot because of it, I was shot myself because of it, and there were several acts of retaliation. And in one of those acts, someone lost their life. I was involved in that act and that’s what sent me to prison.

On March 14 2001, at the age of 27, Adrian was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

The first few years were extremely hard, county jail was extremely hard. As odd as it may sound to other people, I felt like I deserved it. I felt like I deserved worse. I had begun to live life totally contrary to the way that I was raised. And once I accepted that part of it, I knew within myself that I had to do everything about power to change my life because I wasn’t living a genuine life to myself. I just really focused on academics, whatever they had in prison. Whatever program they had in prison, I don’t care what it was, I took it, I took advantage of it. I was incarcerated in Maryland at the time, in Cumberland Maryland. I got into the GED class, I knocked it out in probably I’m going to say three or four months, got my Maryland high school diploma and also unbeknownst to me at the time became a valedictorian. But then I also felt a sense of shame, like why did it have to take me coming to prison to do this? Like for me it kind of like lit a spark in me that made me want to achieve more academically and do more for myself. And from there that’s just the path that I was on.

Adrian eventually transferred to prison in Butner, NC. He took advantage of their college programs and received certifications as a biomedical equipment technician, HVAC mechanic, and as a fitness trainer.

So the term I received again was a 20 year sentence, I went that entire sentence without ever receiving an infraction or incident report, as they call them in prison. I maintained clear conduct, had a good reputation among staff. There was a whole program designed around reentry and reentry month, so I participated in reentry month. I had met one of the staff members there, she kept talking to me about this guy named Dave. “Dave, this Dave guy.” So I was like, OK OK OK. She was like, no this is the person that you have to meet, you have to meet this guy, I just think you guys are going to click.

Dave Wickstrom: My name is Dave. I have been in the disability field my whole life. I had decided when I was Executive Director of Alliance of Disability Advocates that we had a federal mandate to transition people from institutions. And so I said, hey there is a major federal prison down the road from us, let’s go knock on their door and see if they have anybody that can help us.

Adrian: I was working like I normally do, I was in the religious library working, doing some studying and the staff member came to the office where I worked and said “you ready?” And I was looking kind of like, ready for what? She was like, Dave is here.

Dave: It was actually April 27th, which is my birthday, of 2017 and that is the day that I met Adrian Boone.

Adrian: I didn’t know exactly what to take from it and what was gonna happen, but we had basically like an on spot interview that transitioned to us having just a guys conversation about sports. Found out he was a Kentucky fan, I beat him up a little bit about Kentucky.

Dave: When I saw Adrian, his big smile, big goofy smile, all of that, the walls kind of came down and it was just kind of me and Adrian talking like we talk now.

Adrian: That conversation led us to talking more deep about him asking me what I saw from my future, what did I want to do with my life. And I really didn’t know what to make of the conversation, but I remember one thing Dave said to me before he left, he said “I might have something for you.”

Dave: In a place that could be so dark, you could see the love, the energy that he gives off. I’m not sure that if I was there for 17 years that I was going to give off that smile, that energy and he did immediately. That’s the kind of people I want to be around because they make me a better human being. I was like, yep, I’m gonna hire this dude because he’s gonna make us as a staff and an organization better and he’s gonna teach us about life.

Adrian: And that was kind of like a question that left me hanging, I was like, I don’t know what this guy talking about but okay. Because in that environment people say things and sometimes they don’t come through, they maybe have their best intentions, but you don’t hold on to things because you never know what’s going to happen, so I said okay.

Dave: Growing up without a father, I have this fear of abandonment and what I wanted to make sure he understood was I was not gonna abandon him because Adrian is literally probably one of the best human beings I know. And I knew that from day one, the moment he sat down, I was like, this dude’s legit.

Adrian: I’m going to say maybe two weeks after I met Dave, Dave assigned me to what I had no idea is called a Community Inclusion Specialist, which was Sharif Brown. Mr. Brown came in to see me maybe two weeks after Dave and he came to see me every week after that, every Friday.

Dave: We had a lot of people working on Adrian with us, we had community members, we had worked with other people to make sure he had a fully furnished apartment when he got out, day one. We were making sure he had insurance day one with us. We were doing everything we could to make sure that Adrian had the best chance to succeed.

Under the Second Chance Act, Adrian qualified to be released into a halfway house for one year.

Adrian: So I was like super excited, I went back and told my family, at this time I was supposed to be going to the halfway house in Charlotte, so I went back I told my family I should be home before Thanksgiving of 2017. Came back told Dave. Dave relayed the message to everyone at the agency, so everybody is super excited, we’re all on edge. I’m gonna say maybe a week before Thanksgiving of 2017, I was called into my unit teams office and told that the halfway house had been taken from me because the halfway house in Charlotte was shutting down. It was an emotional letdown, but I was just afraid to tell my family, and I was afraid to tell Dave because I’m like this dude has already been holding a job for me.

Dave: I believe it was November 7th, 2017, I got a text message which was an e-mail from Adrian basically saying that his date got pushed back six months. He was supposed to be out before Thanksgiving. I was livid, I didn’t understand. I picked up the phone and called the prison and they promptly told me that Adrian was a danger to society and it was their job to keep society safe. I did everything I could not to cuss and asked this lady has she ever met Adrian? She said no, but I have his file. And I said, well that’s the problem, go meet him, he’s turned his life around. These reasons didn’t make any sense of why they weren’t letting somebody out of federal prison for a second chance and keeping them incarcerated even longer.

Adrian: On May 5th, 2018, I was released from federal custody. It’s almost like I’ve heard people say like being in a dream before. When it really set in for me is when I walked through, and they gave me my clothes to change out. And when I changed out into street clothes, it’s the first time I actually wore civilian clothes in almost 20 years. Walked out through those doors, my little brothers were standing there. I was super excited and I hugged him and immediately I just broke down like after all that time. All the time holding all those pent-up emotions in, like a floodgate it just all came out. Sharif was there, standing out there waiting for me and as we say I gave him a handshake, I gave him some dap man, we hugged and he was like you’re here now man, now work begins. Talked to Dave on the phone, immediately Dave was super excited, like “well listen bud, you got some money. Sharif is gonna take you shopping and get to the halfway house, get settled then I’ll see you tomorrow.” And I started working from there immediately the next day.

Dave: Being an advocate isn’t always fun and it is draining as hell, but when you sign up to be an advocate and you sign up to be somebody’s friend, you don’t walk away. I had a lot of high hopes for Adrian when he got out and he exceeded those. And I’m not sure you can have a better friend because he doesn’t walk away either. I hope people hear his story, I hope Adrian can bring tangible hope to folks that might not have any, and as a country we can be better, especially when it comes to giving people a second chance.

Adrian: It made me have an emotional connection to these people who transition from advocates to friends to brothers to now like lifelong companions. I wanna take that, the things that I learned from them and be able to give that to someone else and be that brother to somebody else, that mentor to somebody else, that constant reinforcement to somebody else. I have to be that person, I have to because I know that somebody felt it in their heart to be that person for me.

My name is Adrian Boone, this is my story, and this is my second chance.

Adrian Boone lives in Raleigh, NC and serves as a Community Inclusion Specialist at Alliance of Disability Advocates. He hopes to return to Butner Federal Prison soon to share his story with those currently incarcerated.

Dave Wickstrom lives in Raleigh, NC and started his own consulting firm that serves community-based nonprofits. He continues to advocate for criminal justice reform at the local, state, and federal levels.

According to NCDPS, only 55% of inmates with intellectual disabilities have aftercare plans developed prior to leaving the prison system. We assume there are many inmates with DD who are not identified based on this language. Additionally, Dr. Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein (Center for Health Equity Research- UNC at Chapel Hill) found incarcerated individuals placed in restrictive housing were 24% more likely to die within the first year of release from suicide or homicide, and 127% more likely to die of an opioid overdose within the first two weeks of release. With a recidivism rate of 41% for all inmates in restrictive housing within the first 13 months of release, the likelihood of successful transition to productive community life for an incarcerated individual with IDD (II/IDD) is extremely low.
This project was supported, in part, by grant number 2001NCSCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.