FOCUS Re-entry: Our vision and plan

Our vision

The community-based re-entry and transitional housing program Incorporates

  • Housing
  • Legal Aid
  • Case Management
  • Medical and Mental Health Services
  • Educational Programming
  • Community Organizing
  • Employment Opportunities

Formerly incarcerated persons, community allies, and members of the surrounding neighborhood will manage Focus Initiatives’ cooperative-style housing. This model is designed to meet the needs of both formerly incarcerated individuals, and our neighbors.

The project and programs were envisioned and developed by our team of currently and formerly incarcerated persons in collaboration with community allies. In addition to this leadership, we rely on the latest data-driven research regarding the lasting impact of transitional housing and re-entry programming. Focus Initiatives draws inspiration from successful grassroots re-entry programs, such as Planting Justice in the San Francisco Bay Area. Like Planting Justice, we are interested in organizing in communities heavily impacted by incarceration to solve issues of of food access. To that end, we are developing a partnership with Mutton Creek Farm in Seymour, Indiana, which will offer employment and training opportunities in the field of sustainable agriculture to FOCUS program participants. We are also inspired A New Way of Life, a beautiful example of an abolitionist re-entry project for women in Los Angeles.

We will evaluate the success of our program on the basis of its effectiveness in supporting members in developing their sense of empowerment and self-efficacy, and making progress toward their goals. Our programming will focus on preventing re-incarceration, establishing stable employment, and encouraging community involvement. Expect regular reporting on this website.

Our plan

Phase 1: First houses and initial re-entry acclimation programs
Phase 2: Employment and community solidarity
Phase 3: Growing the transitional housing, employment, and community building program
Phase 4: Community center & school, legal clinic, and free medical services

Phase 1: First houses and initial re-entry acclimation programs

In the spring of 2021, we purchased our first two houses! We now own a small two-bedroom house in Evansville outright, which we are in the process of fixing up to get it ready to be a reentry house.

We also have a mortgage on a duplex on the east side of Indianapolis, and we’re working to pay the mortgage off as soon as we can, so that we can borrow against the value of the property to start a business that will employ formerly incarcerated participants in our program. This house is in good repair and is now operational as a re-entry house.

These two houses, and any more we are able to purchase in the future, will be used to support our re-entry program participants in determining their own course in life, by providing them the cushion necessary to get on their feet and explore various options after prison, and have the space to fail without losing everything.

Click here to learn about our Housing for Self-Determination Program.

Phase 2: Employment and community solidarity

The second phase of the program will involve the development and launch of transitional employment programs.

During Phase 2 we will also work to establish community solidarity initiatives, according to the needs of the people in the neighborhoods surrounding the first FOCUS houses. The first of these programs, the FOCUS Families Initiative, is already being developed in Evansville. FOCUS Families is a mutual aid and community organizing initiative aimed at building solidarity among the families and loved ones of incarcerated people and fighting for decarceration and an end to abuses in the prisons.

Phase 3: Growing the transitional housing, employment, and community building program

The goal of Phase 3 is to develop the capacity to house and employ 30 individuals at a time, in-house. We will purchase additional properties and expand our business ventures. During Phase 3 we will also ensure the long-term financial sustainability of all the FOCUS Initiatives properties, businesses, and programs. A more in-depth plan for Phase 3 is currently in development and will be released soon.

Phase 4: Community Center & School, legal clinic, and free medical services

Phase 4 will center around expanding community initiatives that fulfill our mission of providing alternatives and building resilience in the face of the carceral system. These initiatives may include a community center and school, an international exchange program, a legal clinic, and free medical services through a clinic and trauma/addiction recovery center. We are inspired in this approach by organizations such as Kheprw Institute, Chicago Freedom School, OTEPIC and the Abolitionist Law Center.