by: AIF Staff
Janesville, WI – This week, the American Idea Foundation released a video highlighting the amazing work being done by Gatekeepers, a non-profit in Hagerstown, MD.
Led by ex-offenders Bill Gaertner and Keith Roys, Gatekeepers is helping inmates and ex-offenders re-enter and rejoin their communities following interactions with the criminal justice system.
Watch the video about Gatekeepers’ efforts here.
As the video shows, Gatekeepers works with inmates prior to their release. Their office is often the first stop for inmates upon leaving correctional facilities and their staff continues working with many of these individuals for years after. Gatekeepers helps these people build productive lives one day at a time.
To do this effectively, Gatekeepers created a formal program called The Business of Living, which is now being used in prisons and jails across the country.
The Business of Living program assists current and former inmates chart pathways to success by creating a comprehensive re-entry plan upon their release from incarceration. It has spiritual, vocational, educational, and community-based components that are customized to the individual. If an individual needs medical or rehabilitation services, Gatekeepers helps them map out how to access them. If an individual wants to pursue employment or rebuild ties with their family members, Gatekeepers helps them navigate it. Through the Business of Living program, Gatekeepers walks with these individuals step-by-step and assists them in building productive lives.
In early October, American Idea Foundation President Paul Ryan stopped by Gatekeepers for a roundtable discussion with graduates of the Business of Living program, community partners, Congressman David Trone (D-MD), and state and local officials, all of whom believe in the power of Gatekeepers’ hands-on approach. Reporting on the visit, the Herald Mail of Hagerstown noted:
Through his foundation, Paul Ryan scours the nation, looking for effective programs that help people escape poverty. He thinks he’s found one in Hagerstown.
Ryan met with people in the Gatekeepers program during a forum and a luncheon Monday at the Horizon Goodwill facility on North Prospect Street. He was joined by U.S. Rep. David Trone, a Democrat who is running for reelection for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District; Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill, several representatives of city and county government, local business leaders and people who have returned to the community after spending time behind bars….
Gatekeepers is something of a clearing house for people who have spent time behind bars. It focuses on re-entry and reducing rates of reoffending and recidivism.
Among other things, Gatekeepers has developed what Gaertner has dubbed the “Business of Living” program. It’s a process designed to help formerly incarcerated people get on their feet and pursue their goals. That program is taught inside Roxbury Correctional Institution and the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown as well as the Washington County Detention Center and the county Day Reporting Center.
Gatekeepers is currently working with Notre Dame’s Lab for Economic Opportunities to conduct a long-term study measuring the effectiveness of their approach in reducing recidivism. They are among a half-dozen front-line organizations to receive a grant from the American Idea Foundation in 2022 and the American Idea Foundation will continue to provide advice, guidance, and support as Gatekeepers develops their evidence-based approach to reducing recidivism.
To learn more about the organization, please visit: https://www.gatekeepersmd.org/.