By David Newmark, CPO A/B
The DOC’s strategic goal #2 is to “Effectively prepare offenders for transition into communities to reduce crime and victimization, reduce recidivism, and promote rehabilitation and reentry.” On August 26th at MCI-Norfolk, the DOC delivered on this goal with a Reentry Seminar on Financial Literacy. The Seminar was held for inmates in the CSD Auditorium, and was attended by community experts in the field of Finance as well as over 200 MCI-Norfolk inmates.
Reentry Seminars are held quarterly for inmates, but this one was different. For this Seminar, inmates were given a survey to determine what they most wanted to hear about regarding reentry. The #1 topic chosen was Financial Literacy. CPO Deanna Acquafresca and Director of Treatment Bruce Pires staged the event, which was seen by many attendees as a resounding success.
First among the presenters were Alan Benjamin and Nicholas Nolan from Santander Bank. They discussed financial issues that many inmates were not familiar with, such as building up a credit history, retirement and investment tips, notary services, and even financing options for those wishing to start their own business. Did you know that a bank can issue an ID? Well, it’s true according to the Santander reps. There were many invaluable tips given to inmates that are coming up on release in regard to assuring their financial security.
Presenters (Left to Right): Nicholas Nolan- Santander Bank, Cletus Thomas- ACCC, Jonathan Hughes- MEFA, Melissa Crehan- MA DOR, and Alan Benjamin- Santander Bank
Other presenters were Jonathan Hughes of the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, who gave inmates several tips on how to go about securing financing for college, and Melissa Crehan from Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Division who lent her expertise on that issue. There was a question and answer session at the end, where it was apparent that the inmates were engaged in what was being said by the huge line of men asking questions of the presenters.
At the end of the day, both staff and inmates in attendance were enlightened on several issues pertaining to financial literacy. Much thanks to the staff at MCI-Norfolk who organized this event. No matter who we are, inmates and staff alike can always learn new things at seminars such as this one. This writer definitely learned a lot.