RRS has helped incarcerated youth turn lives around

By Jasminee Sahoye.
A two-year study conducted by researchers at the Learning Enrichment Foundation and McMaster University in collaboration with Redemption Reintegration Services (RRS) has found that those who access the RRS program have had positive changes in their lives.

The study was made against the background of the over representation of African Canadians in federal custody…an increase by 50%, especially in the last four years. Challenges and failures to reintegrate individuals back into society results in high rates of recidivism.

Incarcerated YouthThe study’s objective was to compare the effects and expense of an African Canadian culturally specific reintegration service, RRS, with the usual and general reintegration services.
“It offers original information on the many changes in a person’s identity, life, skills, attitudes and meaning that can result with more intense culturally specific and proactive and comprehensive full-time support such as RRS. It is postulated that it is these variables that protect African Canadian youth from re-offending. These outcomes were achieved for less cost to society as the cost of the multifaceted and intense RRS service paid for itself by averting recidivism and re-incarceration in comparison to usual reintegration services.”

It added that the findings add information about the importance of changing environments, activity and culturally specific positive youth development, and their relationship to changes in self identity and choices.
“The list of personality strengths was used to elicit the respondent’s view of their strengths. Their view of their weaknesses was deliberately omitted to be consistent with the strength-based approach of positive youth development. While this wasn’t a personality test, it does provide information on the respondents’ view of themselves. It provides detail on the respondents’ changing view of their strengths and as such contributes information on the association between the respondents’ improved identity and the growth in their developmental assets and behavioural choices. In addition, this information documents the effect of a changed and culturally specific positive environment and involvement in constructive activity on the development of a positive self identity of RRS respondents compared to those receiving usual care,” the study report states.
RRS is focused on culturally reflective services for the African-Canadian community. It takes into consideration traditional African practices and provides a solid foundation on a self-identity based curriculum focused on the needs of the broader African Diaspora.

A nine-month impact study by RRS found that 80.7% have secure and stable employment, 60.5% enrolled in a school or training program, 38.6% acquired certification and 10.5% of those who were part of the program got a driver’s licence compared to 1.9% youth who were not part of the program. There were also less incidents of re-offending: (3.5%) compared to 45.7% of youth not part of the program.
Meanwhile, there are some changes at RRS. Victor Beausoleil, the co-founder and Executive Director of RRS, has taken on a leadership position with For Youth Initiative (FYI) as the Director of Programs and Services.
Jody Dunn, who spent years in program development, executive leadership, is now serving as the Interim Executive Director at RRS.