A Project With A Notable Namesake
The Apollo 13 Project takes its name from a near disaster that became a triumph, when NASA’s April, 1970 lunar landing was canceled after equipment failures in space. Three astronauts were stranded on their way to the moon, with damaged equipment, dwindling fuel, oxygen, food, and water. The bottom line is this: When the odds were slim, and no one was sure how to overcome them, the crew on earth worked sleepless days and nights to clear the hurdles and bring the travelers home. The story of the effort to bring the astronauts home was brought to life on film in 1995 by Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. This live BBC footage is perhaps even more powerful, if you can indulge a brief, slightly-hokey musical interlude:
ARVE Error: no video IDThe parallel, while not perfect, is poignant, and it helps clarify the stakes. With 40% of released prisoners in the U.S. returning to prison within three years, the costs of crime, incarceration, lost productivity are high. Less measurable is the human costs to communities and the families of the incarcerated. The Apollo 13 Project mission is to develop the ground support necessary to help prisoners accomplish a challenging reentry into society, with odds stacked against them in such areas as employment, housing, and addictions, and mental health.
Building Social Support for Ex-Offenders
By enabling people to think more intelligently about ex-offenders and the justice system, Apollo 13 aims to engender better social support, more employment opportunities and more innovative prisoner reentry policy solutions – which, in turn, will reduce recidivism, improve public safety, save tax dollars, and lower incarceration rates.
An Interlocking Theory of Change
In this diagram, we start with the global objective at the bottom. Then we place the Apollo 13 strategies at the top, and trace the projected impacts, including measurable objectives indicated with the four-pointed stars. Click the image for a printable PDF version.
One of the best books on World War II is Studs Terkel’s The Good War, which collects the verbatim voices from all sides and all types of experience, from school children, to factory workers, to soldiers. Few works so effectively convey humanity in the midst of war, with striking insights and a force of delivery that even the best data cannot reach. A13.org will do for prisoner reentry what Terkel did with WWII, and story collection will be a prime focus of the students working the project. Here’s an example of the kind of story we’re looking for. Dave is not a killer, but he does make killer bread. He’s a former meth addict and repeat offender for drug and property crimes. This is the story of how he turned it around.
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