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2nd Chance Dance Will Raise Money for Group That Helps Boulder County Inmates Be Successful in Life After Jail

September 7, 2018

If you go

What: 2nd Chance Dance

When: 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: eTown Hall 1535 Spruce Street, Boulder

Cost: $50

More info: focusreentry.org

The Focus Reentry Mentoring Program of Boulder County, an organization that helps people who have been serving jail time, is holding its annual fundraiser on Saturday.

“This is our major fundraiser,” said Focus Reentry Vice President Joanne Belknap. “The money goes to help pay for things like bus passes or, if they don’t have a place to stay, hotels, food and clothing.”

The fundraiser, called the 2nd Chance Dance, will be Saturday at eTown in Boulder and will feature music by Bluezhouse. The event will be hosted by Gabrielle Bryant, president of the Colorado Association of Black Journalists, and will include a silent auction, food drinks and dancing.

Focus Reentry trains volunteers to serve as mentors to men and women incarcerated at the Boulder County Jail — before, during and after — to help them rebuild their lives, according to the agency’s website. Volunteers meet with inmates and help them out for weeks, months and sometimes longer once they get out of jail.

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office requested the program, which was founded in 2005, to address the gap in social services for people coming out of jail and, hopefully, prevent a “revolving door” for inmates being released and returning.

“It’s hard to stop that revolving door when you are poor and don’t have access (to services),” Belknap said. “Society makes it hard to not get caught in the system. We are really proud of our little program that runs on a shoe string.”

A study published on the Focus Reentry website found that the organization has achieved a 17 percent recidivism rate, lower than the 57 percent national average of individuals returning to incarceration by the end of the first year after release.

Belknap said the first 72 hours a person is out of jail are crucial for a former inmate’s success. The organization has a new short and intensive program — Team 72 — to help inmates succeed.

She said sometimes a person might go into jail in the summer wearing summer clothes and be released in the dead of winter without proper attire. Focus Reentry, she said, is in place to help people make it on the outside.

“There are so many benefits we can do with so little money,” she said. “But we definitely need the money.”

John Bear: 303-473-1355, bearj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/johnbearwithme

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