Prepping for Parole

25 November 2019

In the December 2 issue of The New Yorker, Jennifer Gonnerman looks at New York's "all but broken" parole system and the way that volunteers, advocates, and service providers work to prepare people for parole. Osborne's Longtermers Responsibility Project (and Coming to Terms Curriculum) is included in the piece.

Earlier this year, the Parole Preparation Project put out a call for volunteers, and more than a hundred people applied. Many were law students and lawyers, but there was also a Planet Fitness employee, a pediatric I.C.U. nurse, a professor of philosophy, a software engineer, a waiter, and a translator. Parole Prep invited them to an orientation, and, one Wednesday evening last April, some eighty people assembled in a lecture hall at New York University School of Law. Most were in their twenties or thirties. Three-quarters were female. A few people carried reusable water bottles; one older woman walked in with a cane.

Michelle Lewin, who is thirty-two years old and the executive director of Parole Prep, stood at the front of the room, wearing a loose-fitting brown dress and worn work boots. She explained that Parole Prep requires an eight-to-twelve-month commitment. Each volunteer is assigned to a team of two or three people, then matched up with someone who has been incarcerated for decades, whom the team helps prepare for an upcoming interview before the parole board. Lewin talked about Parole Prep’s “values as a project.” “Nobody should be judged by the worst thing they’ve ever done,” she said. Then she introduced two men, Kevin Bartley and Anthony Dixon, whom she called “my uncles and my dear friends.”

You can read or listen to the full article at: