TLF Launches Third Project HOPE Cohort, Expanding to a Women’s Facility
The Liberation Foundation’s in-reach reentry program began its third cohort in December 2022. For the first time, Project HOPE was offered at SCI Muncy, a women’s facility in Pennsylvania. The Project HOPE curriculum was adapted to include resources and topics for women experiencing incarceration. Participants are led by Doreen Cuffie, a Small Group Facilitator who has mentored Project HOPE small groups at SCI Coal Township. Doreen has extensive experience in mentorship and reentry and assisted strengthening the curriculum.
In addition to expanding Project HOPE’s curriculum for women, the program’s accompanying research guide now includes resources from several regions outside of Philadelphia County. With more resource guides, Project HOPE is able to serve more participants returning home in Pennsylvania. To date, over 100 participants have graduated from Project HOPE, and with the launch of its third cohort, TLF expects this number to grow in 2023.
Over 100 Participants Graduated from Project HOPE
Since launching at State Correctional Institution Coal Township, participants have graduated from the Project HOPE Reentry Program. The first cohort graduated in March, and an additional 47 participants graduated in August.
Each graduate was awarded a certificate of completion during the Project HOPE graduation ceremony. Graduations were hosted at Coal Township and attended by TLF Staff and Project HOPE facilitators. Speakers included Superintendent McGinley, Deputy Secretary Kelly Evans, and Darrell Alston, founder of Bungee Brand.
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections & The Liberation Foundation Formalize Partnership
In advance of Project HOPE’s third cohort, TLF and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) partnered to bring better programming to incarcerated participants. With the DOC’s support, Project HOPE was able to hire a reentry fellow to coordinate Project HOPE across several state facilities.
Terrance Speaks at the New Jersey Innocence Project (April 2022)
The New Jersey Innocence Project at Rutgers University hosted the ‘Voices of the Innocent’ panel. Terrance Lewis was joined by Bilaal Wilson (PA), Anthony Ways (NJ), and Sean Washington (NJ). The panelists discussed their paths to exoneration, and the many failures of our criminal justice system throughout their cases.
Terrance Speaks at the Rutgers Camden (December 2022)
Terrance and TLF team members Jehmar Gladden, Bilaal Wison, and Carson Eckhard had the opportunity to speak to students enrolled in Professor Kevin Murphy’s investigation course at Rutgers Camden. Terrance, Jehmar, and Bilaal shared their stories, introduced the Foundation’s mission, and emphasized the important role that student volunteers play in the Foundation’s work.
Professor Murphy, who investigated Terrance’s case prior to his exoneration and now volunteers with TLF, also shared his perspective on the work of the Student Justice Initiative, as several students in Murphy’s class assisted TLF’s volunteer attorneys with cases throughout the fall semester.
TLF Staff and Summer Interns Attend the United Justice Coalition’s Social Justice Convention in NYC (July 2022)
In July, TLF staff and summer interns attended the United Justice Coalition’s inaugural Social Justice Convention in New York City. The summit featured panels on decriminalizing mental health, criminal justice, conditions of confinement, and more. Featured speakers included Attorney General Letitia James, Dr. Bernice King, and Gwen Carr.
TLF and BARS Collaborate to Deliver Reentry Baskets to Returning Citizens
The Liberation Foundation partnered with University of Pennsylvania’s BARS (Beyond Arrests: Re-Thinking Systematic Oppression) to fundraise for welcome home baskets for returning citizens in Philadelphia. TLF interns assembled 60 welcome baskets to be distributed at State Correctional Institution Chester.
The welcome baskets include personal care items, clothing, and The Project HOPE Reentry Guide. Welcome baskets seek to address the lack of resources and supplies available to Pennsylvanians immediately after their release.
In 2022, TLF expanded to include a volunteer staff attorney, reentry fellow, and many volunteers.
Anthony Luscavage continues work with Project HOPE as Reentry Consultant
Anthony Luscavage joined The Liberation Foundation as a Reentry Consultant to assist with the expansion of Project HOPE programming. He worked to launch the project’s first cohort as former Deputy Superintendent of Centralized Services at SCI Coal Township. After serving the Commonwealth for more than 20 years, Tony retired and now works part-time with TLF.
Johanna Rudel joins Project HOPE as a Reentry Fellow
Johanna Rudel joined The Liberation Foundation as a Reentry Fellow for Project HOPE. As reentry fellow, Johanna facilitates Project HOPE lectures, recruits speakers, and provides resources and direct support to participants in the program.
Jehmar Gladden joins as Project HOPE Facilitator
Jehmar Gladden joined Project HOPE as a Small Group Facilitator at SCI Coal Township. After serving 24 years in prison under a wrongful conviction, Jehmar returned home in August 2021 with the support of The Liberation Foundation and the advocacy of his childhood best friend, Terrance Lewis. While incarcerated Jehmar provided mentorship and support to his peers and developed a passion for helping others.
Michele Hein joins TLF as a volunteer staff attorney.
Michele Hein, Esq. joined the Liberation Foundation as a volunteer staff attorney. Mickey reviews cases submitted to TLF, and works to investigate claims of wrongful conviction with TLF volunteer investigator, Kevin, and the SJI team of law students and undergraduates. A graduate of the University of Toledo School of Law, Mickey also has experience working in corrections and reentry.
Last fall, the Student Justice Initiative enlisted the assistance of seven student interns from the University of Pennsylvania. As volunteers for Project RIC, interns reviewed client cases and wrote briefs for our volunteer lawyers, committing between 6-8 hours a week. Led by Ava Dove and Evie Artis, the SJI met biweekly to review progress on ongoing cases.
In October, the Student Justice Initiative gathered for a retreat at the University of Pennsylvania’s Houston Hall to review the Pennsylvania Court System and the TLF case intake process. Drexel Law student Alexandra Kudatzkyled a training on legal citations. The SJI closed out December with a small celebratory gathering in University City. In 2023, the SJI hopes to onboard three new volunteers.
In 2022, The Liberation Foundation was awarded over $40,000 in grants to continue work in reentry and legal support services.
Echoing Green: $8,000 grant awarded to Terrance Lewis in January, 2022
Samuel Huntington Foundation: $10,000 grant awarded to Carson Eckhard in January, 2022
Cerulli Redistribution Fund: $25,000 grant awarded to The Liberation Foundation in January, 2022
Total: $43,000 in funding
The Liberation Foundation would also like to thank our local donors for their continued support, and recognize all donors who gave more than $500 to The Liberation Foundation: Lourdes Blanco, Shima and Kevin Carter, Irene Fonzi, Lauri Hunt, Tiffany Lee, Alan Schnitzer , and several anonymous donors. The Liberation Foundation’s mission would not be possible without your support.
To continue supporting The Liberation Foundation in 2023, click here. All donations are 100% tax-deductible and go towards our Project HOPE and Project RIC efforts.