recidivism success stories
Defeating recidivism, one success story at a time
The founding of Changing Perceptions was based on one simple principle: To assist men and women in their quest to re-enter both society and the workforce after incarceration.
To many, this may appear a simple task, yet in reality, the obstacles often seem insurmountable. Tasks like securing housing in a supportive environment, and quality employment are always a challenge, and failure can often end up in a return to prison.
Changing Perceptions employs a Mentor-Mentee relationship-oriented platform that offers support and guidance for new re-entrants. Every peer mentor has personally and previously experienced incarceration – and the challenges associated with navigating re-entry into their communities
At Changing Perceptions, our recidivism rate is an astounding zero percent. In each case, the success story speaks for itself.
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success story: from the street corner, to the corner office
Director of Re-Entry Services Monte Pollard joined Changing Perceptions in July 2020, after successfully establishing himself as a community leader, a senior staff member in the Mayor’s MORCA department, and by visiting jails and prisons on a regular basis to provide others with hope for a second chance in life.
A second chance at a future he nearly lost when he was only 17 years-old and after spending six-years incarcerated in over five different prison systems.
“I believe in Changing Perceptions because it allows me to bring forth my experience with reentry, my ideas to build programming, reach people’s hearts regardless of age,” says Pollard. “It allows me to relate to them.”
Pollard completed the PIVOT program at Georgetown University, is pursuing his Associate’s Degree in Corrections Administration at the University of the District of Columbia, and plans to launch his own entrepreneurial dreams in the future.
“Now, I revisit the same places I served as an inmate and the inmates know that I get it, that I get where they’re coming from and how their mindset isn’t all that positive,” said Pollard, who also stays in touch with the first judge who sentenced him over 12 years ago. “It’s role reversal, but now I’m living proof that returning citizens can turn their lives completely around.”
an unexpected leader
Changing Perceptions’ (CP) Head Navigator Bill Ferrell never dreamed that his leadership acumen or educational accomplishments would be borne while serving a 35-year sentence in Jessup, Maryland.
And it all started when he advocated on behalf of fellow inmates to have equal access to the weight room. Ferrell was a self-appointed liaison between the prison population and the administrators – which yielded positive changes and earned him the nickname “Uncle Bill.” His intermediary skills also proved helpful when he was called upon to intervene between gangs and deescalate potentially violent confrontations between different factions.
“Young men entering the prison for the first time don’t initially understand that service to humanity is the only way to walk a straight line in life,” said Ferrell. “Their first thought is to turn to violence. But the learned that when you are who you say you are, men take your word for it out of respect.”
Ferrell has twin duties: he is Area & Head Manager for Landscaping for Clean Decisions, owned by CP’s founder Will Avila, and is the resident mentor for 7 men enrolled in the IRAA program who live in Alden Place. For 3 hours every Wednesday, he provides motivational lessons, conducts group meetings, and checks in with each Client privately.
“Changing Perceptions provides an atmosphere of stability for those who’ve lived their lives away from society, with no recent experience interacting naturally in the community needs someone to talk to,” said Ferrell. “But accountability is what I strive for. I work with them to develop realistic plans to achieve your dream by lining up next steps that clear the path to success.”
He earned two bachelor’s degrees in Applied Psychology and Business Administration and a minor in Economics from Coppin State through the PELL Grant program offered from within prison walls. Bill also matriculated through and earned his BBL license through the Fifth Cohort Program offered by Changing Perceptions, which offers management and leadership skills for future entrepreneurs.
Now, he’s seeking to publish his first book about the relationship between physical health and mental hygiene.