Those who are released from jail or prison, especially people of color, face a great number of barriers to successfully reintegrating. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse. Former inmate Cozine Welch started the organization "A Brighter Way" to help those, like him, who have faced these obstacles. Welch joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the work of supporting those in need of a new path while recognizing, and fighting, the systemic racism that permeates our system of justice.
WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area. And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services. It is a community voice. It is 'Washtenaw United.'
ABOUT COZINE WELCH:
Cozine is the current Executive Director (ED) of the Washtenaw County Nonprofit A Brighter Way, which provides direct mentoring and supportive services to our friends and family returning home to Washtenaw from jail and incarceration. Formerly incarcerated himself, having served a 20 year sentence of incarceration at the age of 17, upon his return home Cozine was quickly hired to a Co Teaching position at The University of Michigan through the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), as well as Managing Editor of the Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing. As the ED of A Brighter Way, Cozine uses his practical and lived experience to give him extra insight into the barriers formerly incarcerated men and women face, and to add to the wonderful work that A Brighter Way has and continues to do for our friends and family released from incarceration.
UWWC has been connected to A Brighter Way since its pilot launch via the FY16 Opportunity Fund, investing an overall total of nearly $50,000 throughout the years. The program was designed to lower recidivism in Washtenaw County by providing mentoring and support services for formerly incarcerated people. ABW promotes communication skills; job retention; and building, maintaining, and utilizing social support networks. UWWC has funded different projects of ABW through the FY19 Financial Stability Fund; FY20 Opportunity Fund; and most recently the FY20 Community Relief Fund and FY21 State of Michigan Community Relief Fund to support efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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