By B. Andi Lee
Driven by a sincere desire to “see people do better and not get stuck with their past mistakes,” Josephine Horace believes that education is the path to thrive and flourish in this life. Josephine shared her reentry experiences, passions, and recommendations as part of an interview with a fellow EJP RGI member.
A community organizer at Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Josephine educates her community in Chicago and serves on panels nationwide, teaching about homelessness, housing, and expungement of records. She has a passion for policymaking and increasing awareness for community members to know their rights. She also works as a lobbyist for policy change.
Education as a Means of Influence and Empowerment
Josephine shared how her work is continually motivated by her awareness of statistics, specifically the rising rates of incarceration for women, Black and brown people, poor, and other marginalized people. She says that these numbers not only motivate her work, but also push her to continue to work with collaborative partners and engage in continuing education.
A lifelong learner, Josephine identified some highlights of her re-entry journey, including opportunities to engage in various trainings, sharpen her facilitation skills, and engage in community connection. She strongly believes education is a means of not only influence for people, but a means of empowerment. Josephine voices that she wants people to learn things “not just to sit on them, but pass them on.” She reflected the importance of bridging the gap between communities and generations and her duty to share her knowledge, wisdom, and lived experience with younger generations to pay things forward. “Education is the way forward!”
Reflecting on her time with EJP, Josephine said she has been most moved by witnessing the power of collaboration and creativity in how colleagues are able to be resourceful. She stated that it’s been both meaningful and empowering to have her input and contributions to RGI help people all over the US and now even in Mexico.
Dreams for the Future of Reentry, Reflections, and Recommendations
Josephine feels that, starting now, we need to educate people on what reentry looks like and ensure they are prepared before coming home. She suggested that people receive full assessments that allow them to be connected to wraparound services that can connect them to any service that is needed. Most importantly, Josephine emphasized the need for connection even after people return home after incarceration – ensuring that they are receiving the support and services they need to ease the transition.
Now in her sixth decade of life, Josephine shared some gems regarding the importance of self-care and rest, saying no when she needs to, and still nurturing her passions. She reminded us that self-care is paramount; if you are not well, the people you serve will not be well. Her emphasis on education relies on continually finding where she is best suited to serve and have the most impact in this movement for justice.
At the end of the day, Josephine has immense clarity on how and where she wants to use her numerous talents: “Everything I do is a passion of mine – I’m not wasting time!”