A Criminal Past, an Unwritten Future

Their message to these young men was simple: “You may be locked up, but your mind can still be free.” Over time, what started as a book club transformed into a robust operation that supports D.C. men from the day they are arrested to the day they come home and beyond.

“They helped me change my whole mindset of going back out to the streets and doing something wrong,” said Brandon Hargraves, a member who corresponded with Free Minds throughout his five-year sentence. “All the letters and all the writing prompts helped me really understand the right from wrong that I was doing.”

The key to Free Minds’s success, in many cases, is to recognize the lasting impact of a tumultuous childhood, to prepare them for the adult world—a world that, before going to prison, they’d only experienced as children––and to give them the tools, like reading comprehension and writing, to become their own advocates.

Story published by The Atlantic.

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