In an era of increasing focus on criminal justice reform and addressing economic inequality, Gideon's Army, a respected Nashville-based non-profit, is pioneering a groundbreaking initiative.
This program is designed by Gideon's Army youth leaders, many of whom have personal experience with incarceration or violence, highlighting their unique perspective.
The GBI pilot is breaking new ground in addressing the challenges faced by formerly incarcerated youth. Its innovative approach to combining economic support with community reintegration stands out as a beacon of change in the realm of criminal justice reform.
What sets this initiative apart is that it was conceived, designed, and will be implemented by Gideon's Army's own youth leaders, many of whom have personally experienced incarceration or violence. Their unique perspective ensures that the program speaks directly to those it aims to empower and uplift.
Beyond providing financial support, the GBI pilot empowers young individuals to regain control over their lives and contribute positively to their communities. It's not just a handout; it's a hand-up.
Broader Criminal Justice Reform:
The GBI program is more than a standalone initiative; it is an essential component of broader criminal justice reform and reentry initiatives. Its potential to break cycles of recidivism and equip young individuals for a brighter future is a story of national significance.
According to a recent Brookings Institute study, North Nashville's 37208 zip code bears the highest incarceration rate in the entire nation. The introduction of this GBI pilot program is poised to be a transformative step toward addressing this issue and providing meaningful opportunities for formerly incarcerated youth to rebuild their lives and regain their footing within their communities.
In a bold and innovative move that is set to make history, a Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) pilot program will be initiated in January 2024 for formerly incarcerated youth from North Nashville, ages 16-19. This pilot is the first GBI program in the Nation for formerly incarcerated youth. Spearheaded by Gideon's Army, a youth-led non-profit organization, and powered by Citizens Bank, the program will offer 20 eligible participants $500 every month for a period of 12 months.
This GBI initiative is set to be groundbreaking for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it is the very first Guaranteed Basic Income program in the state of Tennessee, marking a significant milestone in the pursuit of economic justice and equality for all. Furthermore, this pioneering program is the nation's first Guaranteed Basic Income initiative designed and led by youth who have experienced similar challenges, including school pushout, gun violence, and the far-reaching impacts of mass incarceration.
This GBI initiative promises to set a precedent for nationwide efforts to address the challenges faced by formerly incarcerated youth and is a testament to the power of community-led solutions.
Dr. Stacia West, a University of Tennessee professor and the founder and director of the Center for Guaranteed Basic Income research at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Andrea Joseph, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, have been instrumental as the program's primary researchers. Their expertise and guidance will ensure that the program is informed by the latest research and best practices.
Citizens Bank, a prominent local black-owned bank in Nashville, Tennessee, serves as the financial partner for the GBI pilot, underlining the commitment to community empowerment and financial inclusion. The local government has also extended its support, with the Office of the Mayor, Tennessee Courts, and Davidson County Juvenile Courts all championing this innovative project.
"We believe that this GBI pilot program can be a transformative force in breaking the cycle of incarceration and helping formerly incarcerated youth in North Nashville build brighter futures," says Rasheedat Fetuga, President and Founder of Gideon's Army.
- Rasheedat Fetuga, Founder/CEO
GBI provides a regular and unconditional source of income, which can help formerly incarcerated youth meet their basic needs like housing, food, and clothing. This financial stability reduces the desperation that often leads to criminal activities.
Reduced Economic Pressure:
Youth exiting the criminal justice system often face financial burdens, such as court fees, restitution, and the need to support themselves or their families. GBI can alleviate this pressure, allowing them to focus on rehabilitation and personal growth.
Access to Education and Training:
GBI can enable individuals to access educational programs, vocational training, or skill development courses. This not only increases their employability but also provides a positive and constructive focus, reducing the likelihood of returning to criminal activities.
Improved Mental Health and Well-Being:
GBI can help formerly incarcerated youth access mental health services, counseling, and other support systems. Addressing mental health issues is critical for reducing recidivism as it can address the root causes of criminal behavior.
Strengthening Social Connections:
Economic stability through GBI can foster stronger family relationships and social connections. Maintaining positive relationships and support networks is essential for reintegration and reducing recidivism.
Reduction in Survival Crimes:
GBI reduces the need to engage in "survival crimes" such as theft, drug dealing, or other illegal activities that are often driven by a lack of financial resources.
Fostering a Sense of Dignity and Belonging:
Knowing that they have a guaranteed income can improve self-esteem and reduce feelings of hopelessness and alienation, contributing to a sense of belonging in society.
Supporting Reentry Programs:
GBI can complement existing reentry programs by providing a financial safety net that supports the transition from incarceration to life outside. This collaboration can enhance the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts.
Increased Employment Opportunities:
With GBI, individuals can explore employment opportunities without the immediate need for any job to cover their basic necessities. This reduces the pressure to accept underpaid or exploitative work, giving them more choices and negotiating power.
Reduction in Relapse to Substance Abuse:
GBI can support access to substance abuse treatment programs, decreasing the risk of relapse into drug-related criminal activities.
Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) for formerly incarcerated youth can play a significant role in reducing juvenile recidivism by addressing some of the underlying challenges and barriers these individuals face as they reenter society. Here's how GBI can help: