Tuhska Lusa Initiative and the Office of Re-entry

Annually, about 1,500 justice-involved people return home to Jefferson County from the Alabama Department of Corrections, many of whom settle in the City of Birmingham. Over 85% of all homicide victims in the City of Birmingham are African American males. The Tuhska Lusa Initiative is a pilot program designed to expose justice-system-involved Black males with a history of violent behavior to a trauma-informed, culturally relevant, strengths-based cognitive behavioral group therapy program. The objective of this initiative is to reduce gun violence and recidivism — the likelihood of a convicted criminal to reoffend. Through this program, 26 male youth and 36 male adults will experience cultural education, workforce development, case management and mentoring.

The Office of Peace and Policy will address the following key areas: prevention, enforcement and re-entry. Through our prevention efforts, we will engage residents before they participate in a criminal act. The health and socioeconomic disparities that exist in Birmingham are structural violence that traumatize individuals into the disease of violence. The more structural violence is reduced in Birmingham, the more interpersonal violence will be reduced.

Secondly, engage residents in fostering police-community trust. Justice-involved and justice-affected youth have an increased likelihood of being justice-involved adults. This is why it’s essential that the city support and provide them tools to avoid this outcome. To reduce recidivism, we will engage justice-involved persons, their families, and the families of victims after the issuing of a criminal penalty.

TLI is comprised of the following five tiers:

Tier 1: Agency Partner Referrals and Credible Messenger Recruitment Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole probation officers and Jefferson County – Bessemer District Attorney Offices will refer individuals who meet program eligibility requirements.

The Tuhska Lusa Initiative program delivery team will engage potential probationers and parolees at local agency offices – collaborative case planning (City of Birmingham and Alabama Department of Parole).

Tier 2: Cultural Reorientation Development Program

The second tier of the Tuhska Lusa Initiative involves an intensive six-month human capital and life skill development program administered to participants.

Tier 3: Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPR), Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Tuhska Lusa Initiative

In the third tier of the Tuhska Lusa Initiative, we will promote and facilitate CBPR and PAR methodology among Tuhska Lusa Initiative participants to forge mutually beneficial and sustainable collaborations between HEAT facilitators, MTT program officers and the SPI team. The purpose of this methodology is to blend empirical support with valuable key stakeholder/TLI participant feedback, resulting in interventions that are culturally relevant and responsive to the needs of their communities, while increasing the likelihood of generating meaningful and sustainable results.

Tier 4: Workforce Development and Credible Messenger Workforce Development.

The Tuhska Lusa Initiative intervention will design and facilitate an outcomes-based workforce development strategy that serves to mitigate the incidences of gun violence in the City of Birmingham.

Tier 5: Sankofa Sojourn and Rite of Passage and Credible Messenger Peer Mentoring.

The fifth tier of the TLI intervention consists of a week-long retreat for participants who complete the human capital and life skill development program. This element of the Tuhska Lusa Initiative will draw on the symbolism of the Sankofa bird, which walks forward while looking backward, signifying the Akan’s traditional quest for knowledge, which is based on the critical examination of an African past to promote healing, success and progress in African Americans’ contemporary lives.

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