What's New at The First 72-- November 2021 Newsletter!
Meet Our New Staff!:
Heads up, there are some new faces on the First 72+ team! We are excited to introduce Meagan Jordan, Bianca Dorsey, Claude Hopkins, Chloe Dinman, and James Barrie, as well as Tasha Smith who has now joined our staff full time.
We are so thankful to have each and every one of them on the team, and for our First 72+ family to continue to grow so that we can better serve our clients and community. See our staff page for more details.
In addition, we are saying goodbye to the staff members who are moving on from our organization: Emma Fischer, Juliana Matz, Chasity Jacquot, Troy Rhodes, and Ken Mackie. We thank them for all the hard work they've done with us, and wish them luck in the next stages of their lives!
New Justice Reform Legislation:
Signed into law in June, Act 122 (formerly HB145) allows incarcerated individuals who have served at least 20 years and are over the age of 45 are automatically eligible for parole consideration. It applies to nonviolent convictions only.
Chad Sanders, Co-Executive Director, on Act 122: "At a system-leave, this is an important step to create some semblance of fairness and equity with respect to parole eligibility. More importantly, Act 122 provides another avenue to freedom for so many currently incarcerated individuals who were subjected to excessively long prison sentences and otherwise would die in prison."
Also in the state legislature, HB652 proposed the decriminalization of marijuana possession up to 14 grams, making it an offense addressed with summons and fine, and not arrest. Possession over that amount is still criminalized. It was also signed into law in June, becoming Act 247.
Pertaining to the city of New Orleans, City Council ordinances 33,328, -29, and -30 end such penalties as noted above for possession, keep the smoking of marijuana in public as a criminalizable offense, and exclude marijuana from some drug tests. This legislation went into effect mid-September.
Major shoutout to everyone who participated in our Cell Phone Drive that occurred on August 24th, whether as a client or volunteer! A big thank you to our partner, Access Wireless, for making this event possible and helping us try to bridge the digital divide.
On November 10th, we were given the opportunity to collaborate with Kingsley House for their "Together! Stronger! Better!" workforce development week, and our very own Co-Executive Director Chad Sanders moderated the "Setting the Record Straight" panel, which discussed employment resources and information for returning citizens. Pictured above are the panelists from right to left: Chad Sanders (First 72+), Patrick Young (City of New Orleans Office of Gun Violence Prevention, Director and Sharp Men NOLA, Founder and Executive Director), Laura Tuggle (Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Executive Director), and the Honorable Judge Marcus DeLarge (Orleans Criminal District Court, Section K).
On November 11th, the First 72+ joined Mayor Cantrell and representatives from MasterCard, MoCaFi, CEO Works, and other community leaders to introduce “Crescent Card.” This innovative public-private partnership creates access to banking, credit building and pathways to wealth creation for disadvantaged New Orleans, including the population we directly serve. We are grateful to be included in the launch of this new path to financial literacy, and eager to integrate it into the ways we help formerly incarcerated people.
First Friday Fish Frys and Red Bean & Chicken Days: Coming soon! We always appreciate the opportunity to break bread with our First72+ family and larger community, and what better way to do that than with our First Friday Fish Frys, and Red Bean Days! After a long hiatus, we're eager to jump back into these beloved traditions, and to feed folks for a good cause. Stay tuned for details as we figure out how to bring these communal meals back sustainably and safely.
Call for Donations:
The First72+ is still taking donations! We are always in need of toiletries, food items, and men's clothing. Please see this graphic for more details, and call us with any questions at 504-258-3505.
Building Progress on New Housing Property:
Construction on our new housing facility right next door to our office on Perdido St. is underway! It may not look very pretty right now, but when finished this building will enable us to expand our ability to meet our clients' housing needs. We hope to be finished with construction on this facility by the start of 2022.
Pastor Tyrone Smith, Co-Executive Director: "Looking back over our journey at the First 72 Plus, when I saw the frame work going up this morning, I couldn't help but to think how it all started, how we help men get out of prison. We would give them an empty frame and tell them to put in it their goals and accomplishments in life. As I see this frame of our new building going up, I can't help but to think about framing possibilities. As long as we can see it, We can be it."
If you would like to help us build this new house, consider making a donation here.
Housing at the First 72+:
Due to Hurricane Ida, we are not currently able to offer housing to our clients. We are working as fast as possible to restore our properties and get this need met. Even though we cannot provide housing, we are still taking walk-in clients and assisting them with public benefits, legal matters, and coaching.
Keep up with us on social media, on Facebook at The First 72+ and Instagram at @thefirst72plus, and see the rest of our website (www.first72plus.org) for more information about who we are and what we do.