Archive for August, 2011

August 19, 2011

Amanda’s Tapestry: The Art of Achieving – by Deb Scott

I met Amanda when she was incarcerated in 2007 at Franklin Pre-Release Center, and she entered and completed the Vineyard Columbus mentoring program. In her words, “If I wouldn’t have had the mentoring program, I wouldn’t have had such a strong belief system.”

Amanda says that this strong belief system helped her be the strong-minded person she needed to be to re-enter the community after being incarcerated. She was released after serving five years in February 2011.

Amanda completed over 50 re-entry and rehabilitative programs while incarcerated. For example, she completed her GED and worked for four years with two off-site work programs at Ohio Penal Industries and the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Amanda also completed two years in Tapestry, a segregated therapeutic community for addicts in prison. Even though she used hertime wisely, taking advantage of every opportunity inside, as she stepped outside the walls of prison with fresh hope and in anticipation of a new start, she was not prepared for the overwhelming discouragement and frustration. She submitted 60-80 job applications with only four job interviews. Because of her felony record, Amanda said there are too few resources for jobs and housing. She found out that “…no one wants to hire a felon or rent to one because, they think you’re trouble, it’s very discouraging and frustrating. It’s hard, really hard.”

Recently, Amanda was a resident in transitional housing and she valued this post-release living environment. She believes this enabled her to make a better transition back into the community because, Amanda said, “They offered a schedule, direction and the ability to totally re-locate yourself.”

Transitional housing facilities are a great place to live, but it’s still hard. The residents are expected to get a job, but a job search requires bus fare which is expensive and most women don’t have the money necessary. Amanda was able to secure bus fare with the help of her family and church community. She acquired a job and rode the bus 1-3/4 hour with four transfers each way.  As she noticed, “A lot of women don’t have this option and they return to old places, people and things…what they know… because old ‘friends’ will give them a place to stay and a meal, but they end up back in the same lifestyle that sent them to prison in the first place.”

While in prison, Amanda finished 2-1/2 years of college but on the outside, when she applied to three different colleges, she experienced discrimination because of her felony conviction. She found college admission offices difficult to work with and very rude once they knew her past. Amanda recognized that in order to get a better job she needed more education, but if she didn’t persevere that wouldn’t happen.

Again, she saw how discouraging it was to try and better oneself after being incarcerated and understood why so many women didn’t make it on the outside. The paperwork alone is overwhelming and, she says, “You have to explain yourself 50 milliontimes as to why you did what you did.” It was her faith in and her relationship with God that reminded her of who she is now.  She says, “Good thing I know the Lord ‘cause He had plans for me that nobody else could stop.”




Editor’s Note: Amanda Marks is doing very well in her new living environment. She is making positive contributions to society and re-connecting to family. RED! also acknowledges the superior work that Deb Scott does as a mentor to women incarcerated in prison in Ohio, particularly in Ohio Reformatory for Women and in Franklin Pre-Release Center.


August 10, 2011

RED! Alert: ACLU-Ohio on Voting Rights

Laurie Brigg, board member of the American Civil Liberties Union-Ohio (ACLU), recently visited Partners with Justice (, informing attendees about significant – and often alarming – details regarding individuals’ voting rights.

In this very important meeting, on August 4, Brigg indicated that, in Ohio, under House Bill 194 which was recently passed in the Ohio legislature, “time procedure for early resident voting is to be cut in half,” she said. “The impact of ‘comprehensive voting changes’ in House Bills 194 and 224 now severely cut early and absentee voting, among other things.

Go to those sites above for more prominent information about the critical aspects of the Bills.

“These changes are going to be confusing to the voter,” Brigg said. “There are many changes and they’ve come quickly.”

That is, one significant change is that early voting now begins two weeks before Election Day voting. House Bill 194 also eliminatea weekend voting. It also restricts hours of voting to Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and, on Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Under the Bill, mail-in, or absentee voting, does not begin until 21 days before Election Day.

House Bill 194 prohibits poll workers from assisting voters. “People are needing to know their correct precinct,” Brigg said.

House Bill 194 also stipulates that a “Presumption of Voter Error” would make “any error as the voter’s error or fault and not election officials’ fault,” according to Brigg.

HB 194 stipulates that military identification, a passport, current driver’s license or state identification will be acceptable identification.

It’s important to check the ACLU website for updates at


A date of significance: Former Director of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Dr. Terry Collins, will speak at Partners with Justice (PWJ) Thursday, September 1 meeting. The meeting will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Macedonia Living Word Fellowship Church. The address is: 353 Kemper Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246.  The church is located in Springdale, a suburb of Cincinnati. 

Report by Diane Rogers, Executive Director of Partners with Justice (PWJ)

August 7, 2011

The Other Life: on Frank Hyle’s Novel – by Angela Derrick

If I could replace food with books, I would be so happy! I’d start the day with a serving of Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic), have a midmorning snack of Grisham (Skipping Christmas, in keeping with the whole Christmas-in-July theme), luncheon with Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) , and dine with a King (Stephen, the novelist and short-story writer of Full Dark, No Stars).  

Just imagine the calories I would save! Wouldn’t it be a grand thing? I could say such things as: recently, for dinner, I attended a book discussion/signing. I was so full when I left. It was such a great feeling; I was satisfied but not stuffed (like after Thanksgiving dinner when you have to unbutton the top button).

Seriously, I just attended a book signing and discussion at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio, of the recently published novel Caesura by author and practicing attorney Frank Hyle.

It is always a treat to hear authors speak in person about their writing and the process. It is even more so when I happen to know the author, as is the case with Mr. Hyle as I have had the pleasure of being one of his students. 

A “caesura” (pronounced ‘say-zur-a’) is a brief, silent pause occurring in music, poetry and sometimes life, in which time is not counted (Hyle, 2010). 

The novel evolved out of recollections of Mr. Hyle’s mother, who during the last stage of her life, experienced dementia. The story is written with compassion and hope and illuminates the unexpected but frequent shift that often occurs between parent and child as roles are reversed. I believe that many readers will be able to relate to it, as I had the pleasure of doing, having experienced the death of my Aunt Jenny to Alzheimer’s disease.

If we are called to minister to those who raised us, I can think of nothing better than to look to stories such as Frank Hyle’s Caesura for affirmation and reassurance. Even if you are not experiencing this particular situation, I recommend Caesura. It is about family coming together in support of one another and we all need that.

Frank Hyle has been practicing law for more than thirty years. He is currently working on his third novel.