Mace Bill Would Modernize Due Process Rights (Post & Courier)

The most basic purpose of our justice system is to convict and punish the guilty while protecting the innocent and safeguarding the rights of all Americans. As part of that mission, rehabilitating offenders and helping them return to society should be a primary goal. Unfortunately, for decades, our criminal justice system has failed to fulfill this mandate.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace understands this, and her record proves it. Her time in public service is marked by significant achievements in criminal justice. And she works with anyone willing to work with her to make our justice system work for every American.

It created an opening for organizations such as Turning Leaf to help people become productive members of society after prison.

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The Turning Leaf Project Aims to Break Cycle (Sisters of Charity SC)

Communities often address crime through a cycle of prison time and release. This cycle leads them back to old habits, separated from their families and a drain on tax payer dollars. That is why The Turning Leaf Project (TLP) exists—to work with individuals who cycle in and out of the criminal justice system in order to provide the structure needed after release from jail.

The TLP was founded by Amy Barch, 36, founder and director, who has had a passion for working with incarcerated folk since her 20s.

“I became very interested in why people commit crimes and how we can effectively respond to that behavior as a community,” Barch said.

When Barch moved to Charleston in 2010 she was unable to find any meaningful volunteer opportunities in the field of reentry and rehabilitation for the incarcerated population. This led to her approaching the jail to teach classes in the evenings a few times a week.

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Turning Leaf is raising the stakes, and its profile, in recidivism (Post & Courier)

An audience at the Mount Pleasant library listens silently as three men calmly talk about violence, the crimes they’ve committed, the drugs they’ve sold — and the reason they quit.

She’s sitting in the front row.

The men are students of Amy Barch’s Turning Leaf Project, a local nonprofit working to quell the epidemic of recidivism. And the program appears to be a rousing success.

That is not hyperbole, just math. Nationally, 67 percent of people released from prison will be re-arrested for another crime within three years.

In the past two years, the rate for Turning Leaf graduates is 19 percent.

That’s an amazing statistic and, as a result, Barch has a growing national reputation in the field of cognitive behavioral therapy. Other cities and states send emissaries to study her work and hire Turning Leaf to consult on their own recidivism projects.

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Starting Anew (Charleston Mag)

Getting out of prison isn’t easy. There’s parole and probation to navigate, child custody issues, securing housing, finding a job, and avoiding the temptation to fall back into criminal habits. That’s what drew Turning Leaf Project founder Amy Barch to reentry work—despite her middle-class upbringing, she understood why the less privileged would take whatever they could get in a world stacked against them. “They haven’t been given much, so I kind of got why they broke rules and made bad decisions,” she explains.

Since earning her degree in law, societies, and justice from the University of Washington (Seattle), Barch intended to help people. After moving to Charleston in 2010, she struggled to find a reentry volunteer opportunity that she fully believed in. So she took a leap of faith, quit her job, and started Turning Leaf in 2011, with the support of then-police chief Greg Mullen and then-mayor Joe Riley.

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Lowcountry nonprofit helps ex-convicts re-enter society, workforce (ABC 4 News)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The Turning Leaf Project is a group in Charleston working to help formerly incarcerated men complete probation and get acclimated back into society.

Aulzue Fields spent the last 17 years in prison. He took someone else’s life in the Lowcountry when he was 26 years old.

“I was using a lot of drugs, alcohol. I wanted to live the life of being irresponsible. I had a wife and children, but at the time, my belief was bring the money to the house, that should be fine,” he said. “I wanted to do what I wanted to do and disregard everyone else.”

He’s made choices he’s not proud of.

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Training the Brain to Stay out of Jail (The Marshall Project)

Growing up in public housing in North Charleston, S.C., in the 1970s, David Hayward was familiar with poverty, violence and loss. His mother, grandmother and brother all died when he was young, and his father was in prison. He became addicted to alcohol and cocaine and occasionally lived under bridges and in abandoned buildings, he says. Over the years, his rap sheet grew: At least 15 arrests, mostly for minor crimes like driving with a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia but twice for armed robbery, leading to six stints in jail. 

In other words, Hayward is a typical “repeat offender.”

Crime statistics make clear that in the U.S., a handful of young men are responsible for an outsized share of crime. Like Hayward, they are often exposed as children to violence and trauma, parental incarceration, addiction, and poverty, all contributing to a lifelong inability to stay out of prison. 

Yet experts in the burgeoning field of prisoner re-entry, which supports former inmates, don’t agree on what—short of addressing systemic issues such as poverty and unemployment—can prevent this hard-to-reach group from committing more crimes.

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