DETROIT – If there was ever an example of passion for what you do, it is exemplified within Janella Robinson. As the Prison Reentry Specialist, Metropolitan Region, State of Michigan Department of Corrections, she stays focused on being a change agent in the lives for Michigan parolees.
Upon graduating from college she entered the Department of Correction and for the past 18 years has moved within the system with such positions as a Probation Officer, Probation Supervisor, served within the 3rd Circuit Court and in her current position as Reentry Specialist she has served for 5 years.
When asked if being a woman within the corrections system is a positive or comes with some negatives , she readily projects that it has significant positives. When dealing with male and female clients, sometimes the "feelings or perceptions" that she has as a women can be of significant value. Additionally when relating with women clients, special challenges will arise relative to parental issues, lose of parental rights, family structure and the need for special resources when dealing with children. Her woman's instincts are very helpful here.
Family structure and support are key for citizen returning to society. Community support and sensitivity are invaluable. She states that she is grateful of the support that she gets from the Faith Based Community and support of the church pastors. Janella says that it is invaluable the impact that pastors make by being within the prison walls mentoring and counseling individuals prior to their release and relating to them when they are released.
She is proud of the fact that the recidivism in Michigan, reentry into the prison system within 3 years, has gone from 48% in 1998 to 29% in 2015. But the challenge is employment for returning citizens. In Wayne County the unemployment rate is whopping 80%. This has a rippling impact on the families and the communities where these individuals reside and affects their quality of life.
The have a series of resources for them to assist in building their employability skills. There is skills development and job readiness preparation. Janella tells this story of one individual who came to all the classes, would always have on a shirt and tie and shined shoes. But he just was not getting hired. He was getting discouraged. She keep pushing him and connected him with another manufacturing company looking for workers. The employer like him, hired him on the spot. It made her heart sing to see his happiness. By the way, the employer called back and hired 5 more.
Janella states she has to constantly assist these individuals in uplifting their personal dignity. They have barriers of insensitivity where other won't let them forget their past. She motivates them to strive beyond being an ex-con but a person, a person who has value and willing to contribute to society and support their families.
Janella Robinson a everyday hero..Making A difference.
On a daily basis in spite of ones life's struggles and challenges, there are some people who reach out an make a positive impact on the lives of others.
That is why Local 4 and a prominent local clergyman, Rev. V. Lonnie Peek, Jr. have teamed up to find those people and tell their stories.
Do you know an everyday hero in your life? E-mail us and tell us about them.