Rochester nonprofit works to reduce recidivism rates

“Just because you made mistakes when you were young doesn’t mean your life is over,” said Dylan Sutter, 23, a 2017 graduate of John Marshall High School. “You can always make positive decisions and change your life.”

Once a star football player, Dylan started down a risky path when he started committing petty crimes in early 2015 – skipping school, sneaking around, stealing and smoking marijuana. His trajectory reached a turning point in 2017, when he was charged with one count of first-degree aggravated robbery, first-degree burglary and fifth-degree assault at the age of 18. He was later sentenced to five years in prison.

Dylan was one of millions of children across the country who find themselves caught in a generational cycle of incarceration. Dylan’s father, Thaddius Ledford, was incarcerated for most of Dylan’s childhood. “I didn’t know until many years later – once it started to show in (Dylan’s) behaviors – that his father’s absence and his incarcerated father had an impact on him,” said his mother, Leslie Sutter. “(When Dylan was arrested) I started thinking: What programs are there? What resources are out there that I could have used that I missed? What could I have done better or different? to prevent it from coming to this?

Anticipating Dylan’s release from prison in 2023 (although Leslie suspected he would be released on good terms in 2021 – which he was), and wanting to ensure a smooth transition to civilian life, Leslie started the organization non-profit Parents of incarcerated sons and daughters (POIDS)a family-centered group dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated people get their lives back, helping their families heal, and educating the public about the importance of rehabilitation for those in prison.

“I’m a parent and had a son in prison,” Leslie said. “I want people who’ve been in prison or their families, when they find out about our organization, they’re like, ‘These people have been there. They understand. … When you know someone’s been through what you’re going through or what you’ve been through, it gives him a little different feel and a little different confidence.

meet a collective need

The Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted County Community Corrections describes the rehabilitation of formerly incarcerated people as an urgent need of the community in its Global Plan 2021-22detailing how the reduction in incarceration rates at Olmsted County adult detention centers as well as juvenile detention centers means more people will soon be reentering civilian life – and that means an increased need for community programs and support aimed at restoration and rehabilitation.

“Being in jail is very lonely, sad, knowing you have to wait for your date to be released,” Dylan said. “Coming out was overwhelming. Coming back to society, rubbing shoulders with people. I felt a lot of social anxiety. I didn’t want to be around people after spending the majority of almost three years locked up. »

“I try not to focus on my past mistakes,” he added, “but rather to focus on the good decisions I’m making now. However, I think about where I was, as a motivation not to return.

POISD was originally developed as a support group with significant assistance from Tierre Webster, Executive Director of Road to Damascus – a local Christian organization that provides a pathway to stable housing, employment and community connections using a Christ-centered approach for people who were previously incarcerated.

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