Pennsylvania Prison Society
Joe Robinson, shows us what an opportunity and a second chance looks like for many citizens returning home from incarceration. Robinson knows all too well the struggle many will encounter reintegrating into their communities. He was incarcerated for many years and spent countless nights wondering what life would be like outside of the confined prison walls. Since his release many years ago; Robinson has worked diligently to implement change not only in his life but the lives of countless citizens returning home from incarceration.
Robinson is the head of the Pennsylvania Prison Society’s mentoring program, a nonprofit that advocates for prisoners, the formerly incarcerated and their families. He works earnestly to help returning citizens to reintegrate into their communities and the workforce. Robinson is a graduate of Temple University, with a bachelor’s degree in social work and has recently enrolled in their Master’s programs to continue his studies. He is a very gentle man and meets every individual with kindness and compassion. He is dedicated and works hard so others can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Reducing the recidivism rates in the City of Philadelphia has proven to be a difficult task. Around 25,000 people are released from state and local prison to Philadelphia every year. In 2015, approximately 33.9 percent were re-arrested within 12 months. In Philadelphia jails, 55 percent of inmates are high school dropouts that do not have a GED or a high school diploma. Ex-offenders have less education than their counterparts and limited technical training/work experience. Robinson sees a couple of clients per week and assist with resume writing and finding appropriate interview attire provided by Broad Street Ministry. Robinson meets each individual right where they are in the process and helps them identify their unique skills to obtain employment when returning home. He states “about 60 percent of those he counsels find full-time jobs.
Robinson has defeated the odds and proves to be an asset in the Reentry world. He shows all of us what hard work and a second chance can do. He is selfless and continues to teach courses at both SCI Chester and Phoenix Correctional Institutions to encourage others to continue to believe in their dreams.
He has proven “A Dream Deferred is Still a Dream” and lets us all see redemption is possible.
"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."