Cornerstone BuildersCornerstone Builders is a re-entry program for formerly incarcerated men and women based on rehabilitation through service.
Cornerstone Builders is grounded in the belief that community service equips people with the skills and assets necessary to be responsible, productive citizens. This prisoner re-entry program acts as the foundation of a transformative experience that benefits not only the individual, but also the families and victims of crimes and society.
Our Re-Entry 72 program provides support services to persons within the first 72 hours of release from local correctional facilities.
Cornerstone Builders provides free family bus rides to prisons through our Bus Project and mentorship to children whose parents are incarcerated through our Cornerstone Kids Mentoring Program.
We also organize an Annual Symposium for Systemic Change at which participants discuss strategies to end mass incarceration.
Mass incarceration is the final chapter in the struggle from slavery to this day. – Ronnie Moore, renowned New Orleans civil rights leader
A Vision of Justice
a judicial system of fairness and mercyCornerstone Builders promotes a fivefold vision of justice in terms of rehabilitation and re-entry for the individual and systemic change in the criminal justice system:
- RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: spiritual healing, reconciliation, and transformation
- CIVIC JUSTICE: rehabilitation through service
- JUSTICE REINVESTMENT: advocacy for public dollars to be spent on rehabilitation and job creation for returning citizens rather than mass incarceration
- SOCIAL JUSTICE: promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity
- ECONOMIC JUSTICE: economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, to decent working conditions as well as to organize and join unions or other
Helping Former Inmates Invest In ThemselvesRe-entry 72 is an initiative of Cornerstone Builders in conjunction with the local sheriffs’ offices to provide emergency housing, immediate employment and support services to persons within the first 72 hours of release from local correctional facilities.
Studies have shown that immediate employment and shelter assistance within this crucial period of time greatly reduces the likelihood of recidivism. In Louisiana, 48 percent of ex-offenders are likely to be back in jail within 5 years. However, if released prisoners are able to find and hold a job for 3 years, that rate drops by more than 50 percent.
Based on an AmeriCorps program, Re-entry 72 connects former inmates to community resources including substance abuse and mental health counseling, legal aid, food and clothing. Participants are able to earn an income and receive intensive case management while looking for a job.
In 2015, the program served 60 newly released prisoners.
If I get [the person] to hook up to the resources as well as to his [probation officer], I have addressed recidivism because 5-10 percent go back to jail within the first 72 hours. – Ronnie Moore
Cornerstone Builders Bus Project
Family ReunificationSince 2007, Cornerstone Builders’ Bus Project has been providing free monthly bus service for New Orleans families who have loved ones in Louisiana detention facilities.
By providing free transportation for family visits, we promote healthy relationships, encourage a network for family support, provide an incentive for good behavior by inmates, and inspire better cooperation between inmates and prison officials.
Cornerstone Builders’ Bus Project travels to all 13 state correctional facilities and connects hundreds of family members with incarcerated loved ones each year. Bus trips are paid for by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and a group of cyclists called “NOLA to Angola” who raise more than $20,000 a year for the program.
Cornerstone Kids Mentoring Program
Empowering At-Risk YouthCornerstone Kids is a mentoring program for children ages 4-18 who have at least one incarcerated parent.
This program relies on volunteers from the community to provide support and encouragement to the children. Mentors make a one-year commitment to develop a positive relationship with the mentee.
Through one-on-one activities and group meetings, mentors provide support and encouragement that promotes trust, confidence, enthusiasm, personal growth, and positive thinking.
Annual Symposium for Systemic Change
Working together to end mass incarcerationLouisiana has not only the highest incarceration rate in the country, but the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world. Every year, Cornerstone Builders hosts a symposium that concentrates on systemic change in the criminal justice system with the goal of ending mass incarceration.
Our Annual Symposium for Systemic Change actively engages more than 150 individuals in the issues of criminal justice reform.
Government officials, non-profit leaders, religious clergy, local business owners and formerly incarcerated individuals come together to discuss strategies to end mass incarceration.
A major emphasis is on the revision of sentencing laws and re-entry bills. Louisiana has the most legal restrictions on employment for ex-prisoners of any state in the nation. We also discuss national trends to end mass incarceration.
Join us at the next symposium on Friday, October 21, 2016 from 9am – 2pm at St. Agnes Catholic Church (3310 Jefferson Hwy, Jefferson, LA). Register now by contacting Angela Wattler at 985-966-3846 or SystemicChangeSymposium@gmail.com.
The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:22-24
Cornerstone Builders is one of 4 local organizations participating in the Vincentian Re-entry Organization Project led by the National Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The organizing project rebuilds lives through leadership development and collective advocacy.