Going back to the 1970s, the Desire Housing project saw some of the darkest chapters in the criminal history of New Orleans. The geographically isolated complex – demolished after being flooded during Hurricane Katrina – was a hot-bed of drug trafficking, with turf usually protected at gunpoint. Within that hard-edged neighborhood, one tight-knit family with deep roots in Desire, the Smiths, found themselves caught in a vicious spiral of violence almost beyond comprehension.
Last Friday our team of peer mentors took a trip to the Federal Correctional Facility in Oakdale to speak to men that are preparing to come home. One of our mentors was actually incarcerated at this same facility several years ago, so this a homecoming of sorts, and it was a lovely day. We are so grateful for opportunities to return to the inside to spread what we have learned about the struggles and success strategies for coming home.