Pam- Mayor’s Office of Reintegraton Services (cont’d)

“90% of the guys who come from upstate, if they’ve done 5 years or more, come home with a GED if they left here without their high school diploma, a lot of them come home with GEDs. Unlike these guys who keep going down to State Road. And I say, “What are you doing with your time?” And they say, “Well, there was not enough time for me to do it or whatever.” So they do not see the importance of even that level of education, and that’s something that is really missing. The guys from upstate, however, they come home not really knowing a lot about computers and online applications and that type of stuff, you know, they still come home with type written resumes. So we have to really help them with that part of reintegrating them. Now knowing how to use a cell phone. Those are the kinds of things that we have to really help the guys coming from upstate. Really we do. We tell their story all the time. This one guy got off the bus over there at the Greyhound Station and he used the bathroom and had to catch a connecting bus somewhere on Market St. He stood in the toilet for over an hour because the toilet would not flush, he wasn’t seeing a handle. And finally when he said, “Look, let me just walk out because I can’t spend all of my time here.” as he was moving the door the toilet flushed. He said he had a strange strange experience. He broke down and cried. Because he had heard about these toilets but never knew any, and it took him to a totally different place with regards… “ok, this is how this thing works now.” When he told the story to the class he was actually crying because no one would understand what that experience did to him. They come back and they talk about the talking busses, the ATM machines, things that… these are guys who were real hard nosed criminals from 10, 20 years ago in Philadelphia and we tell them, “OK we want you to go down to the AT&T Center for an interview”, and they get lost. South Philly guys, North Philly guys, because everything has changed. Those are the kinds of things that we really work with our guys coming from upstate.

 What we do sometimes, Joseph, who is our employment specialist and one of the case managers, the feds, like the guys coming from Fort Dix and one of the local federal prisons in Jersey, they would usually invite them to go in and talk to these guys before they actually come. So its not just with regards to employment, but what’s going on in the city, are you aware these kinds of things are happening. A Q and A session, where they can be brought up to snuff, even though sometimes they tell you honestly, even though we hear it and we see it on the news, when we hit the bricks its still a sort of shock to us. Guys going to an ATM who don’t even know what an ATM machine is. They tell the story. We have so many different stories of the guys going through these little transitional changes. They go home and their little 5 year old nephew can play all the games on their cell phone and they don’t even know how to turn the cell phone off. They tell us these things. They say, “Can you show me? Because it’s embarrassing when I go home, and he’s 5 and he knows how…” So we have to really help them. That is a big part of the reintegration that we have to… because it’s not just re entering, it’s really reintegrating them back into the simple things that we tend to take for granted. Tokens and transpasses and a lot of different things. We have to help the guys who have been upstate to really get climatized.”

Pamela Superville- RISE

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