Dimitros Alexiadis, Founder of Get-By and LION Member
I attended the 2023 18th Annual Reducing Recidivism and Reentry Conference. I walked away hearing some powerful stories that reinvigorated my belief in justice involved people, and the work I do. Conferences are meant to challenge you and provide you a step away from your normal day to day. I appreciate the organizers and the opportunity to come together for the first in person conference since the pandemic.
Many of the speakers told personal reentry stories that made for powerful accounts of overcoming systemic failures and examples of resilience in the face of uncertainty. These stories demonstrated to conference attendees the capabilities of justice involved people, reminding some that the client sitting next to them could very well be a future leader on stage. I was so grateful to hear these personal narratives, I think it keeps me grounded in the work that I do, it’s inspirational knowing that people who have made mistakes can still leave such a positive impact on their communities, and that these opportunities exist!
These stories should be told to changemakers, policymakers, and elected officials, with the hopes that their power and humanity downplay the stigma that society associates with a criminal history.
The presentation from Project Rebound focused on the importance of the prison to university pipeline. Successful participants of their educational program saw a ZERO percent recidivism rate! Another great presentation by the Jobs for the Future Foundation covered a topic that is relevant in Alaska, demonstrating to employers and providers best practices for hiring formerly incarcerated people that reduce concerns around negligent hiring while also recognizing the blatant discrimination that is generally more of a concern.
At the same time, based on what I noticed, there weren’t policy makers present. It was hard to listen to the inspiring work happening outside of Alaska because we talked about things that didn’t feel relevant or practical to our state given our political climate. I hope next year’s will involve a focus on the underlying causes of incarceration, subsequent recidivism, and the role systems play in changing Alaska’s future.