I recommend the Recharge Beyond the Bars Re-entry Game to anyone who seeks to help their formerly incarcerated loved ones – and themselves – to break free from self-imposed limitations and claim the lives they deserve. The game questions, challenges. It pushes people to reflect deeply, and to rethink what they always thought was true. It also takes them to tender places, and makes them laugh. In the end, the Recharge Beyond the Bars Re-entry Game helps to transform lives and relationships.

Shelia Rule

Sheila Rule is the Executive Director and Founder of the Think Outside the Cell Foundation, formed to end the stigma of incarceration and to help the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated and their loved ones through literacy, education, personal development and the removal of societal barriers to the American Dream.

The Recharge Beyond The Bars Re-entry Game definitely helped the women with their task of reintegration back into the community. The game gives the women self-esteem, is therapeutic, and they have fun at the same time. The game also guides them through many different issues they are facing. The women enjoy the dialogue of Recharge Beyond The Bars Re-entry Game provides as well as the bonding they experience with one another.

Celinda Burns

Celinda Burns is an Ordained Chaplain, Prison Minister, an advocate with R.A.P.P. (Release of Aged Persons in Prison), and a coordinator for prison visits with the Riverside Church Prison Ministry.

I got together five people to play the Recharge Beyond The Bars Re-entry Game; two formerly incarcerated persons, one Community Activist and one mother of three whose husband is scheduled to be released from prison in three months. Because we had so many stimulating discussions after each question, we had to limit the time to two minutes a response. When we came to a question for an incarcerated person we kept it there instead of passing it on because we wanted to see how someone who had not been incarcerated would answer it without benefit of a response from the incarcerated person. I found the game to be stimulating and a great change on the usual game setting. I believe Recharge Beyond The Bars Re-entry Game can be an effective tool to educate the uninformed about re-entry problems and solutions, help professionals get a better handle on what re-entry is really about for the men and women coming home, and provide hours of educational fun for all. I enjoyed playing Beyond the Bars and got similar responses from all who played.

Jay Coleman

Jay Coleman is a Client Advocate at the New York State Defenders Association, whose job it is to back up the Public Defenders around the state and stay on top of the legislation and case law which affects their clients. Jay is also a neighborhood Re-entry Mentor. As a member of the organization R.O.O.T.S. (Re-entry Opportunities and Orientations Toward Success), Jay mentors young men and women in the pitfalls of reentry and the best ways to stay out on parole. Jay has served in various positions for over 25 years in New York State prisons.

I played the recharge game with the graduates of a re-integration program, Riverside Coming Home, at one of our alumni nights. It was great to see the graduates sharing and thinking about things that they had not gotten to talk about during our 13 week program. It also allowed graduates from different semesters to get to know each other better. The graduates were all very enthusiastic about the game and were eager to the play the game at upcoming alumni nights. One lady even took notes because she wanted to journal on some of these subjects later. I think this game will be a staple of our alumni nights for years to come!

hope-elsdorferHope Eisdorfer serves as Program Director for both the Life-Skills Training and Empowerment Program (L-STEP) at Xavier Mission and its sister, The Riverside Coming Home Program at Riverside Church. She is responsible for the day-to-day coordination and management of both programs, empowering individuals who have experienced homelessness and/or incarceration. Prior to this, Hope was a Social Work Intern serving as Program Coordinator and Case Manager for The Riverside Coming Home Program. Additionally, Hope completed a year of AmeriCorps service in Pittsburgh working at a re-entry facility, Renewal Inc., serving men and women with histories of incarceration. Hope holds a Bachelor of Art degree in Sociology from Rutgers University, and a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University.

I am pleased to partner with the creator of the Recharge Beyond the Bars Re-entry Game in our mission to assist formerly incarcerated people in transforming their lives through meaningful reflection and conversation. I only wish this game had been available when I came home.

Wrongfully convicted of rape and murder at age 17, I wasn’t cleared and freed until 16 years later via DNA testing, which identified the actual perpetrator. Re-entering society after those long years felt like being dropped from another planet. Family members that I had limited to no contact with during my incarceration felt like strangers. Trying to rebuild these relationships with no tool to facilitate their understanding, or to make me feel comfortable sharing traumatic experiences they never lived through, made healing and meaningful communication all but impossible. ‘Small talk’ was meaningless and only reinforced my isolation. The Recharge Beyond the Bars Re-entry Game would have been the perfect tool to bridge the gap; overcome the awkwardness, and ease the pain of separation.

The Beyond the Bars Re-entry Game is a fun game with meaningful outcomes. It breaks the ice and opens up healthy dialogue. Beyond the Bars helps caring individuals better understand each other.

Jeffrey DeskovicJeffrey Deskovic, M.A., Founder and Executive Director of The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, which seeks to free the wrongfully imprisoned in cases with and without testable DNA, while raising awareness and seeking preventive legislation.