Prison Prevention

Olivia’s story

Olivia grew up in Asheville and, as a teenager, became involved with a man who was engaging in criminal activities.  By the time she was nineteen, she had been convicted of three counts of Common Law Robbery. Because of these multiple felony convictions, Olivia struggled with obtaining employment, housing and family services, as she is a single mother. Once connected with Missy Reed at Changing Together, Olivia received support in these areas and was able to obtain employment that lead to a managerial position, secure housing and daycare vouchers for her children. After many years of being free of the criminal justice system, Olivia developed an addiction to methamphetamine which led her back to criminal behavior in order to support her habit. With support from Missy, Olivia made the decision to get clean and was admitted to in-patient treatment and eventually a recovery house. Currently, Olivia is in recovery housing with her children. She has been sober for 6 months.  
The Changing Together program increases community safety through sustainable employment, secure housing and recovery support for our clients returning from incarceration. These clients are the adult version of today’s traumatized children who live in poverty, among violence, lacking positive role models and pathways to a hopeful future. They have committed crimes against society which resulted in their incarceration. Upon their return to society, they are faced with numerous barriers to their reintegration. Their felony record can be a significant barrier to living in public housing even if that’s the only place they call home. Their felony record means they will likely not be chosen over other candidates for jobs. Coming of age in the prison system usually means they did not gain the soft skills necessary for successful employment. And yet their histories typically reveal a real strength in determination, innovation and resilience. When we combine their strengths with our connections and services, we have the opportunity to change a life trajectory and improve our community. 
The Changing Together team offers employment skills, connections with employers willing to give our clients a second chance, housing opportunities, educational opportunities, supportive counseling and whatever support is required to overcome life challenges. 
Barriers faced by individuals returning from incarceration:
• Nowhere to sleep
• No money
• No ID
• No food
• No opportunities 

We are turning those NOs into KNOWs! Our team: 

• Knows where to find supportive housing
• Knows where to connect clients with jobs and education
• Knows how to maneuver through the systems to get an ID
• Knows where free food is available
• Knows that opportunities exist for those who willing to take advantage of support 
Our case management team is eager to work with anyone who is interested in CHANGE!

Our Focused Deterrence Initiative is also a conduit for our client services. In 2008 Asheville City and Buncombe County saw a drastic rise in violence in the community. City and County leaders researched crime reduction strategies that would increase community safety and Focused Deterrence was incorporated into the work that is done here in Asheville by law enforcement, service providers and community members. The initiative focuses on bringing a strong message of stopping the violence to people who are engaged in the most serious criminal behavior in balance with offering all the support mentioned above.
Over the last 8 years of implementing Focused Deterrence, 84% of the individuals who received the message have not been convicted of a new violent crime. 
Changing Together also implements a Domestic Violence Focused Deterrence Initiative in Asheville/Buncombe for individuals who have been placed on probation for domestic violence crimes. 
Changing Together believes that every life has value and that each of us have the capacity for true change. We are committed to this belief and work to empower our community and its citizens to experience stability, success and growth!