The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with nearly 7 million people under the supervision of the U.S. adult correctional system. That’s 1 in 36 adults. In 2005, nearly 68 percent of the over 400,000 prisoners released in 30 states were rearrested. After five years, nearly 77 percent were rearrested.
For young men with a record, rewarding employment, educational opportunities, and the chance to give back to one’s community may seem a bleak prospect. For many, there might only seem to be two choices: incarceration or death. Without proper guidance, resources, and support, most will find themselves in and out of prison their entire lives.
Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO) is addressing recidivism and high rates of incarceration among young men with the indispensable belief that, without emotional support combined with educational and employment opportunities, young men previously involved in the U.S. corrections system often have little chance to get out and stay out.
Recognizing that issues of anger and trauma afflict many Americans with a record, GOSO works with men aged 18-24 to offer emotional support, providing them with a team of licensed social workers to help address mental health issues often inherent in the problem. Along with those emotional support services, GOSO offers music classes, community events, art classes, and meditation sessions—a personal favorite of GOSO participants.
GOSO’s education and training components are key to the long-term success of participants. GOSO provides a mandatory job readiness program, teaching soft skills, job skills, and resume building necessary to finding and keeping a job. With over 70 business partners, GOSO provides 240-hour internships, with nearly 80 percent turning into full-time employment. GOSO also provides opportunities for participants to meet with successful people in the fields of law and finance, to name a few. Additionally, GOSO helps participants earn their high school diploma or GED, provides counseling and additional support to help students stay in school, and works with multiple partner schools to ensure that participants have the chance at a quality education. GOSO participants walk away with a newfound sense of self-confidence, self-esteem, and a feeling that they’re really, and for the first time in their lives, in control of their own future.
These services are tailored to the need of each individual—a differentiating approach that has contributed to GOSO’s outstanding outcomes. Participants’ successes show that they are in control of their own destinies. Fewer than 15 percent of GOSO participants return to prison, with 71 percent currently engaged in work, school, or both. They are constantly learning and committing to new skills, with 93 percent of those who begin vocational training completing it.
GOSO began in 2003 when retired business executive, Mark L. Goldsmith, was invited to visit Horizon Academy at Rikers Island, where his influential discussions prompted the Department of Corrections and the Department of Education to invite him to meet with the students on a regular basis. From there, GOSO was formed with the belief that young men, given the resources and influences necessary to succeed, could get out and stay out of prison.
Getting Out and Staying Out is a 2017 S+ Catalyst. Through participation in the Catalyst Program, GOSO receives training from industry experts in organizational development, branding, measurement and growth, and strategic relationships to amplify their impact and strategically expand their reach.