Sidney Cromwell of Iron City Ink, in an article entitled "Hope instead of Hurt," profiled OAA during our first session of our Youth Career Readiness Initiative (YCRI) in Titusville, a community of Birmingham, AL. OAA's YCRI is our effort provide career readiness training and positive decision-making techniques to at-risk teens ages 14-17. With YCRI being one of our programs to be an effective change agent in the community, OAA leaders were able to share their thoughts about the reentry of former offenders.
Deborah Daniels, Co-founder, provides the purpose of OAA, “To have us go back into prison — and especially for men or women who we did time with — there is such great hope for them,” Daniels said. “Nobody knows how it feels to be on your bunk and be faced with all the decisions and the harm and stuff that you caused and not be able to do anything, except somebody who has been on that bunk and cried those tears.”
Dena Dickerson, Executive Director, defines what role OAA plays for returning former offenders, “We are the extended arms of re-entry,” Dickerson states.
Carmone Owens, Program Coordinator of OAA Inside, said he has been able to watch ex-offenders dramatically alter their lives with “the encouragement that yes, I can do it and I don’t have to be a hostage to my past, and my past is not preventing me from becoming who I can become.”