The Returning Citizen

The Returning Citizen is a storytelling platform that aims to inspire and inform ex-offenders, their families, and allies.

The Returning Citizen is a storytelling platform that aims to inspire and inform ex-offenders, their families, and allies.

Episode 9 - Bags to Butterflies: 
Reducing Recidivism With Handbags

Guests:

  • Michelle Smart
  • Robin McArdle

Links:

When women return from prison, they face some unique challenges as compared to their male counterparts. Even though women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, there are few programs designed specifically for women after their release. In this episode, Jacob, Erik, and Imani sit down with Michelle Smart and Robin McArdle from Bags to Butterflies to discuss their particularly creative solution for keeping women out of prison: empowering them through the creation and sales of gorgeous, handmade, wooden purses.

But Bags to Butterflies is so much more than a purse company. Through employment, training, support resources, and a loving community, they are working hard to ensure that every single woman in the program stays out of prison for good.

(Recorded January 28, 2018 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak, MI)


Episode 8 - Entrepreneurship as a Path for Returning Citizens

Finding a job can be a major challenge for men and women coming out of prison. For some, entrepreneurship can provide a path to take control of their situation and create their own opportunities. In this episode, Jacob, Erik, and Imani sit down with Karlos Harris (COO, DSDT & Founder, Koded Icons) and Stephan Franklin (Founder, Motor City Media Group), both Detroit-based entrepreneurs who started their own businesses after serving substantial time behind bars. We touch on how they got started, what it's like to run a business, the value of personal branding, and why hustlers have all the skills they need to become great entrepreneurs.

Recorded October 29, 2017 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak, MI


EPISODE 7 - Aaron Kinzel: From Prisoner to Professor

In this episode, Jacob and Imani sit down with Aaron Kinzel to discuss how he went from serving a 10-year prison sentence to teaching about criminology and criminal justice as a professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. In his words, "I know everything there is to know about crime. I don't need to read a book about criminology... I lived it since I was a child." He sheds light on how a lifetime of bad influences and terrible decisions landed him in prison, what he did to get his life together after his release, and the opportunity our society has to think differently about redemption for violent criminals.

Watch a video of this interview.

Recorded September 17, 2017 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak, MI

 


    EpISODE 6 - Azzie: A Mother's Journey from Crime to Design

    Overview:

    In this episode, Jacob, Erik, and Imani sit down with the one and only Azzie to hear about her experience growing up around crime and ultimately serving two separate prison sentences before finally turning her life around. She shares insight into the unique challenges faced today by incarcerated women, the fastest growing segment of the US prison population. Azzie is a proud mother who is now thriving as a Creative Designer at Rebel Nell, a Detroit-based company that helps disadvantaged women transition into self-sustained living by turning fallen chips of graffiti paint into beautiful jewelry.

    Recorded June 25, 2017 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak, MI

      Guest:

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      EpISODE 5 - Equal Justice Under Law: Fighting Wealth-Based Discrimination

      Overview:

      Jacob and Imani connect with Phil Telfeyan, Executive Director for Equal Justice Under Law, a national civil rights organization based in Washington, DC. Phil explains how they recently filed a class action lawsuit against Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (Fowler v. Johnson) for suspending driver's licenses of people who are too poor to pay the debts they owe the state for traffic violations or court costs. The two named plaintiffs are both residents of Detroit.

      Recorded on May 10, 2017 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak

        Guest: 

        Link:


        EpISODE 4 - Escaping Thru Art: Creative Expression As a Release

        Overview:

        Jacob, Erik, and Imani chat with members of the Prison Creative Arts Project, a Michigan-based program that "brings those impacted by the justice system and the University of Michigan community into artistic collaboration for mutual learning and growth."

        Recorded May 10, 2017 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak, MI

          Guests:

          • Janie Paul (Senior Curator & Co-Founder, PCAP's Art Exhibition)
          • Michael Vander Horst (Artist, PCAP Member)
          • Larnell E. Johnson (Artist, PCAP Member)

          Links:


          EpISODE 3 - Welcome Home Jamo: Activist/Poet Returns After 30 Years

          Overview:

          The Returning Citizen Podcast co-hosts Jacob and Erik welcome home James “Jamo” Thomas, recently released after a 30-year prison term. Despite being sentenced to life without parole at age 15 in 1987, Jamo managed to help start a variety of programs while incarcerated, including The Teddy Bear Project and Writer's Block (links below). As a recently freed man, he's committed to positively impacting his community through mentorship, art, and activism.

          Recorded April 30, 2017 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak, MI


            EpISODE 2 - Teach a Man to Farm: Growing Food While Creating Jobs

            Overview:

            Jacob Smith and guest host Brandon Christopher sit down with Detroit's own Anna Kohn to discuss how RecoveryPark Farms is putting returning citizens to work growing produce in Detroit!

            Recorded: April 9, 2017 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak, MI


              EpISODE 1 - Telling Erik's Story: The Returning Citizen Debuts!

              Overview:

              Jacob, Erik, and Imani introduce The Returning Citizen. Erik reflects on why he got life without parole for a nonviolent drug crime, how he got out after 18 years, and what he's been up to since. Hint: He's been launching an amazing podcast called The Returning Citizen!

              Recorded January 18, 2017 at Podcast Detroit in Royal Oak, MI



              The Returning Citizen is a nonprofit podcasting project based in Detroit, MI.