Free Indeed Prison Ministries to host Family Parachute event
By Bruce Walton
Martha Conyer-Allen, co-founder of Free Indeed Prison Ministries, said many people returning from prison aren’t able to easily reintegrate into society.
That’s why she and her husband, the Rev. Walter Allen, founded the organization in 2003 to establish a faith-based connection for inmates as they re-enter society, plus their families.
Conyer-Allen likes to use an analogy from a member of its board of directors, Bennie Kelly, who said: “It’s like coming back to a planet, and without a parachute you will crash.”
That analogy helped the nonprofit organization name its new Family Parachute event that will prepare families after their loved ones come home.
The event will be at the Aulizio Banquet Center, 4395 Youngstown Road SE, Warren, from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 6 and have more than 200 in attendance, including the families of men and women returning from prison.
Conyer-Allen said family can be that parachute that so-called “returning citizens” should have as support to return to society, but most times they can’t comprehend what they are going through.
“They’re not the same person that’s coming out,” she said. “There’s a big celebration when they come out, but after a few days, maybe a month, [the family is] putting chains on the refrigerator and want them to get a job.”
As with veterans returning from their military tours, Conyer-Allen said returning citizens need to be debriefed on the traumatic situation they came out of, which she also added will usually take more time than they think.
The event will have executive director of the Oak Hill Collaborative Patrick Kerrigan as the keynote speaker to talk about the difficulties of re-entry. Kerrigan, also a former Youngstown Municipal Court judge, was sentenced in March 1998 to 21/2 years on two counts of extortion related to his office and attempting to influence a grand jury witness. As a former returning citizen, Kerrigan said he knows what they are going though and wants to show it’s possible to still gain success after incarceration.
The event will also feature Judge Anita Laster Mays of the Ohio Court of Appeals in Cleveland.
Tickets to the event cost $35 per person and a table of eight costs $250.
To donate to the organization, visit Woodforest National Bank on Millennium Boulevard and to purchase tickets or for more information on the event, call Conyer-Allen at 330-941-0345.