Tuesday July 19th Lunch Meeting
Rotary Club of Englewood
Spoke July 26, 2016
Guests: Our speaker, Walter Fortson
Birthdays and Anniversaries: 6/2, Rosalie Villar, 6/24, Kathy Silvertsein & Janet Sharma, 6/27 Alan Pine, 7/23 Sue Fenter, 7/27 Vicky Brown
Announcements: Jill will circulate service details of recent passing of Kathy Frost, Past President of Teaneck Rotary Club.
Mitch will speak with a BFC employee who is part of the Englewood Track Club looking to raise funds for their trip to compete in California. The Club voted to authorize up to a $2,500 to assist. The BFC employee is currently on the trip.
The Hackensack Riverkeeper is hosting an Eco Cruise on Aug. 2nd 6PM $25 per…through Hackensack Rotary.
Last Tuesday of the month Rotary Business Meet Up is this evening in the Bar Area of The Crowne Plaza.
Jay Wolf noted that the Travers City, MI club donates $1M annually to the Foundation. (Land which the club owned as a camp in the upper peninsula has oil on it). Dave Chazen suggested developing a policy for how our club should use the $52K now invested with the Community Foundation of NJ in its Flagship Fund. When Bill Alford was club pres. About 15 years ago, he and David Nichols started the account. Jill will ask the Board Governance committee to look into it and make a recommendation to the membership.
Program: Walter Fortson, of the Petey Green Program, which connects mentors and tutors with incarcerated adults. Two Princeton alumni from class of 1958 who had financial success and wanted to give back joined in 2007 to create the not for profit program. One of them does the major funding and the other serves as CEO. They hope to have tutors in prisons throughout the country. The US spends $80B annually to incarcerate 2.3M inmates, the vast majority for non-violent crimes, particularly drug related, as a result of the war on drugs (mandatory sentencing). US has 25% of the world’s incarcerated inmates and only 5% of world population. US recidivism is 67%. 65M Americans have criminal justice system involvement.
Petey Green focuses on educational opportunity because recidivism for prisoners who receive high quality tutoring is reduced to 43%. Those receiving a GED drop to 33% return to prison. Receiving a BA decreases that rate to single digits and almost everyone getting a Masters never returns to prison. The punishment model is not effective.
Walter described his own financially impoverished youth and subsequent family breakup that led him to make the “major mistake” of becoming a drug dealer. He was caught and sentenced to 6 years. After serving two he was eligible for probation. In prison he received tutoring and tried to learn and study. He was fortunate to be noticed and given the chance to be part of a program started in 2004 at Rutgers by a Japanese History professor to educate prisoners. Eventually Walter was admitted to Rutgers and received a BA in 2013. Along the way he won the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship and was nominated for the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship. After struggles to get a visa (due to criminal record) he was able to attend Cambridge and earn a Masters in Criminology. When people tell him he was/is an exceptional prisoner/individual, he says it was “exceptional opportunities” and he wants others to have those too.
Discussion with club members around benefits and challenges of public vs. private prisons ensued with consensus that too many Americans are incarcerated and the methodology does not promote rehabilitation, but rewards keeping the cells filled.
50-50: Dave Chazen selected Queen of Diamonds with 41 cards and $105
Attendance: 20 – …