J. Jondhi Harrell Engages, Informs on Plans to Combat Division Amongst People
(From left: Dr. Alan Preti, Co-Director for the Institute for Ethical Leadership and Social Responsibility, Rosemont College President Sharon Hirsh, PhD ’70, and J. Jondhi Harrell)
Rosemont College’s Institute for Ethical Leadership and Social Responsibility held its fall lecture on September 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Rotwitt Theater of the McShain Performing Arts Center. Students and the greater campus community heard from J. Jondhi Harrell, Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC).
TCRC is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, which provides services to formerly incarcerated persons. Consistent with this year's mission theme of social justice and responsibility as well as a link to this year’s First Year Connections Seminar common reading, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, the talk addressed potential solutions to problems in the U.S. criminal justice system, particularly that of mass incarceration.
In Harrell’s second visit to Rosemont, (first on a panel in March 2016 regarding the same topic) he spoke openly and honestly about his former life as a bank robber. “When a judge tells you that society needs to be protected from you for the next 20 years… you begin to take a cold, hard look at who you are,” Harrell said.
“Nowadays, it’s nice to go into the courtroom and know you’re going to come out,” he added.
Since Harrell’s two stints in prison, he has been busy developing, planning, and fundraising for a concept to combat recidivism known as “The Village.” This concept is a plan to transform the Nicetown neighborhood of Philadelphia into a community that welcomes and embraces returning citizens and their families.
“Recidivism is an economics issue,” Harrell continued.
This area along Germantown Avenue is planned to have buildings that will educate and train returning citizens for careers in a tiered growth system. The ultimate goal is to partner with community leaders to help returning citizens find a path to employment and at the end of the day… a better way of life.