The call came in at 8:00 in the morning. His first words, after I said hello, “Hank, is it ever good to hear your voice.” Phil (name changed) was calling from the minimum at Stony Mountain. It was the first time we had spoken since the Institution had been closed to volunteers and visitors.

Phil is going up on the parole board in a couple of weeks. He asked for a letter of support from Open Circle. We often provide these for participants, so the Parole Board is aware that the individual is a part of our program, and we are willing to assist them in the community.

Our conversation didn’t last that long. Phone time at the Institution is in high demand during the restrictions on visits. Before we finished, I assured him we would provide whatever help we could as he moved back into the community. Phil was deeply thankful, not only for a friendly voice, but also for the assurance that as he was released, to a city where he had no family or friends, Open Circle would be there.

After spending years in prison, it is difficult enough being released into the community. Under the present circumstances, that is compounded with the reality that individuals are coming back to a world which is more isolated, has significant unemployment, and prohibits the type of social interaction we are used to.

In a few weeks, Phil will probably be released. He will arrive back in a world that is vastly different than the one he left. Even in the midst of Covid 19, Open Circle continues to provide support and encouragement to individuals in prison, and those being released into the community.

May 13, 2020

by Hank Dixon, Open Circle Program Director

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