2019 T.O.R.I. (Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative) graduation was yet another phenomenal event organized and hosted by The Potter's House Dallas. T.O.R.I. is praised for its' extremely low 11% recidivism rate compared to US overall rate of 77% and uses a program focusing on the major components of every day life, employment, education, housing, healthcare, spiritual guidance and family unification tailored to each participant.
Every year since it's launch in 2005 a number of graduates that walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and move on in life living, growing, and changing for the better to continue to be successful.
This year special guests Senator Tim Scott, Topeka Sam, and Andre Norman were invited to speak abut their first-hand knowledge and experiences and offer hope and more importantly resources to the graduates. Tina Naidoo, who has served under Bishop T.D. Jakes, was also a panelist. Tina has been an intrical part of the T.O.R.I program along with her work to foster services for ex-offenders.
Topeka Sam Founder of Ladies of Hope Ministries talked about her experience in federal prison and after her astounding early release in 2015, went on a mission to bring more awareness to the disparity of women of color, specifically. LOHM assists these imprisoned women transition back into society.
She also part of other organizations and projects one of which is the PPAP Parole and Probation Accountability Project which is a project to work with the bodies of government to change laws that affect women specifically with the charges they are given.
Topeka Sam : "..understanding there were more things in common that we all had and that was this trauma, often sexual, that was untreated, particularly in people of color. A lot of times we are just told to pray. We are not told to deal with it through mental health treatment."
Ali Carter: during Q&A - Topeka, You started PPAP - Parole and Probation Accountability Project in 2018, do you feel that project has had any impact with laws against women in the judicial system?
Topeka: in short Yes.. See final event Q&A video for full response.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, was the first one of the only three African American Congressman in office in this last term and the first black Republican senator in South Carolina. His focus is to help invoke laws and change at the Congressional level and further trickle-down to state law.
Andre Norman was also a speaker at this event. Andre has endured many of things, he's been in the penal system with a sentence of 100 plus years and somehow walked away again with only 15 years served. He decided to come out of that and do some good
Andre: "When you have a gift and it's taking you some place- YOu have a purpose. When I put my gift down I had no purpose. " Andre went on to talk about hos God spoke to him and this time he listened and that is what make him change from just wanting to be Free to wanting to be Successful.
The Potter's House added a Q&A taping session for selected media to hear and ask questions directly of the panelists about programs they are involved in that compliment the T.O.R.I. program which was hosted by Rebecca Lopez of WFAA D
As Andre Norman said .. the fight doesn't end once you get out, once you beat the case or once you get paroled... the fight is every day after that because every day after that you have to live in the same world where you found yourself trapped in.
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