By: Deb Alderson, President & CEO
It is hard to believe that so much of 2021 has already gone, but GTL has a lot of progress to show for it. Our commitment to expanding support to our family and friends customers, as well as incarcerated individuals and returning citizens, is as firm as ever, and I am thrilled to say that we have introduced many new partnerships and services so far this year.
Many observances took place over the past few months that really speak to the essence of GTL—who we are, why we do what we do, and what we are striving toward. April was Second Chance Month, a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the obstacles faced by adults with a criminal record, which includes 33% of American adults. With 95% of incarcerated individuals returning to society, it is imperative that we work to break the cycle of incarceration and provide access to basic resources, such as housing, education, and employment.
To help returning citizens make the most of their second chances, we finalized a new partnership with 70 Million Resources, which helps connect people with criminal records with second chance jobs. Together, we are bringing the 70 Million Jobs national employment site inside correctional facilities on GTL tablets to help incarcerated individuals start planning their second chance.
In May, we recognized Mental Health Awareness Month and the importance of providing resources within correctional facilities to raise awareness and inform incarcerated individuals and returning citizens alike about the opportunities available for treatment of mental and behavioral health issues.
In an incredible pairing, GTL and Dr. Christian Conte, one of the country’s most accomplished mental health specialists in the field of anger and emotional management, are now working together to create exclusive tablet content for incarcerated individuals and correctional institutions. These videos will help individuals practically apply Dr. Conte’s Yield Theory approach, which combines radical compassion with conscious education for the effective treatment of anger issues.
As we work to provide resources to those currently incarcerated and those making their way back into society, we cannot forget about another important group: family and friends that are left behind. Incarceration of a loved one can be scary, anxiety-inducing, and emotional, but there are resources and groups out there to help families better navigate these uncharted waters. For that reason, we have partnered with Friends of the Incarcerated (FOTi) to create a smartphone app that offers guidance and support to families and friends through a central repository of facility information, a community forum to seek out advice and support, and more.
And with summer in full swing, it is safe to say that “sunny days are chasing the cloud’s away.” GTL has partnered with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, to offer resources to young children centered around coping with incarceration. We will also offer resources to caregivers and incarcerated individuals on how to help children during this unprecedented time and create several safe and comfortable spaces in correctional facilities across the country to reduce the fear and anxiety children feel when visiting a facility.
We are also excited to announce a new partnership with Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families. Together, we will create new content to aid incarcerated individuals on their journey home, as well as team up on second chance hiring events to break down employment barriers for returning citizens.
At GTL, our focus on innovation is not limited to just technology; we want to be innovative in the way we conduct business. Setting sail along this new course, I am excited for how this year, and the ones to follow, will reshape GTL.