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Department of Corrections' Juvenile Offenders Reach Beyond Their Cells to the Community Through Poetry Writings

Monday, April 3, 2006

(Washington, DC)  On April 5, 2006, the DC Department of Corrections, in conjunction with Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop, will feature the expressive writings of juveniles incarcerated at the Central Detention Facility (DC Jail).  This community event, sponsored in recognition of National Poetry Month, will be held from 7 to 9 pm at Eastern Market’s Market 5 Gallery. The gallery is located at the corner of 7th Street and North Carolina Avenue in Southeast.

DC Department of Corrections Director Devon Brown, a proponent of education rehabilitation opportunities for persons who are incarcerated, said, “The Department of Corrections embraces programs that promote positive thoughts, words and behaviors among the inmate population as well as strengthen the link between the detention setting and the community. The expressive writings of our juvenile offenders demonstrate their sense of hope, willingness, and capacity to learn in spite of their current circumstances.”

The Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop has been an important and effective education resource for the department’s juvenile inmates since 2002. For two hours each week, the 16- and 17-year-old male juveniles at the DC Jail participate in select book reading discussions, vocabulary building and creative skills development through poetry writings led by Free Mind volunteers. Through structured activities, the juveniles enhance their reading and writing skills and learn to effectively articulate their life experiences.

The inmates’ poetry will be read by former program participants who have returned to the community from incarceration and volunteers from a DC youth development group. The poetry will also be on exhibit at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library through April 26, 2006.