The Power of Voices; The Power of Choices
We envision a society where credible
messengers enhance positive social change based on lived experience, group
therapy, peer-to-peer impact, and policy reform.
We align hope with impact in prisons and
underprivileged communities by redefining what it means to pay a debt to
society through the power of CHOICES (Choosing Healthier Options In Confronting Every Situation).
Voices From Within is a nonprofit
initiative born behind the walls of Sing Sing
Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York, by eleven incarcerated men who
wanted to make a difference in the lives of underserved adolescents while
cultivating a culture of contagious growth of positive influence within the
The founders of Voices From Within have
experienced life in New York’s most vicious community: the prison system.
Despite the anguish, desolation, violence and despair living behind bars,
Voices From Within has managed to cultivate a positive
paradigm shift at Sing Sing, effectively transforming
a correctional institution of punishment into a correctional institution of
higher learning and moral commitment.
Launched in 2013, our first short film GUNS (Growing Up with No Shots), addressed gun violence and garnered more
than 10 million views worldwide. This led to strategic partnerships with the
Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice in New York City and the New York City
Department of Juvenile Probation. Voices From Within bridges an essential gap
between the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in New York
State and the fractured communities left in the wake of crime and its
As a result of the program’s success, during the fall of 2023
leading into 2024 and beyond, Voices From Within peer
counseling and mentoring programs will be implemented in correctional
facilities across the state of New York. Our goal is to take our model to
prisons and communities across the country.
We employ the
following initiatives to counter criminogenic behavior, to stimulate critical
thinking skills, and to foster positive attitudes with efforts to breed a new
culture that seeks to minimize the criminal mentality in prisons and criminal
activity in underserved communities:
Peer-Counseling Program - to cultivate
positive attitudes in prisons through a series of workshops rooted in
self-awareness, personal accountability, and respect for civil values.
Þ CHOICES Events - to help
underserved youth realize the significance of Choosing Healthier Options In Confronting Every Situation.
Þ Culture Tours - to facilitate
public proximity in prisons and underprivileged communities to raise awareness
through open, honest, conversations about human dignity and shared humanity.
Þ Media Literacy - to compile
content from credible messengers to inform youth and the public about the harsh
realities associated with choices and consequences.
- to encourage proper planning, community outreach, and resource development,
as well as to provide parole preparation, resume development, and job
to provide group therapy, one-on-one counseling, mentorships, and internships
to deter negative cultures and criminal activity.
Þ Special Events - to inform,
educate, promote and celebrate healthier communities
among returning citizens, the public, and underserved youth.
- to create viable pathways for justice that are guided by lived experience,
practical advice, and systemic solutions by executive clemency recipients.
Þ Civic Engagement - to educate
incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals about voter eligibility and its
power to impact public policy and quality of life.
Our advantage is distinctive. The most effective way to deter
crime is to understand the criminal mentality. By combining the power of voices
with the power of choices, we are the most credible messengers to help deter
crime. Adolescents who share an affinity for the criminal culture are more
likely to listen, respect, and trust others who share the wisdom of
personal experience. We understand where life went wrong, why life went wrong,
and how life went wrong. This privilege of hindsight empowers us with the
insight to identify what it takes to make life go right.
Through our interactive events with
exercises designed to foster awareness based on open dialogue between the
incarcerated and underserved youth, we share a unique perspective to accurately
assess the needs of underserved adolescents. We specialize in anticipating outcomes
by applying scenario planning to identify alternatives that facilitate
successful transitions into adulthood.
We measure our effectiveness based on how well we meet the needs
of the people we serve. Accordingly, we are committed to developing life plans
that align the challenges of underserved people with viable alternatives to
promote successful futures. Our capacity to anticipate threats and consequences
associated with poverty and crime maximize our leverage to succeed and deploy
meaningful resources to cultivate positive change.
Our intent is to become a reliable
resource for crime prevention and youth empowerment.
- We understand the challenges underserved communities encounter, and how
important it is to prevent youth from engaging in crime. Accordingly, the goals
of our current activities are:
A. To change
adolescents’ perception of self-value by switching the frame of reference they
view society through.
B. To reinforce
the significance of making positive choices and developing winning attitudes.
C. To improve
relationships between our youth and our communities.
D. To establish
trust between our youth and our strategic partners.
- We also understand the effects of poverty and how the lure of crime is viewed
as a means of obtaining economic survival. Accordingly, we counter these views
by achieving the following goals:
A. To increase
our catalog of media literacy and refine our brand to establish a broader
B. To expand
our potential by enhancing our network of partners and increasing the
educational and employment opportunities we offer formerly incarcerated people
and our youth.
C. To employ
“Credible Messengers/Living Proof Ambassadors” in selected communities and
school districts to follow up on our media literacy with impactful curriculums.
D. To create
“safe spaces” where our youth are afforded viable opportunities to learn,
interact, and participate in positive activities outside of school.
Voices From Within is both unique and transformative. Our
curriculums change the hearts and minds of people disenfranchised by crime and
poverty. By employing our innovative and proven initiatives, we seek to transform
the life course of incarcerated and underserved people through programs based
on positive social interaction, mentorship, education, awareness, and
employment—essential elements necessary to heal communities and end mass
incarceration in America.
In sum, a culture of punishment breeds additional punishment: the
punishment of victims, families, and society—not just the offender. We seek to
minimize this vicious cycle by incorporating a restorative structure heavily
based in community relations, which seeks wholeness and healing through
reconciliation, redemption, and human repair. Through an enhanced paradigm of
human dignity, we can make a strategic investment to restore the core
characteristics of community: care, concern, collaboration, and collective