The Focus Forward Project empowers individuals charged with federal crimes to move beyond the stigmas of arrest and conviction by providing programs designed to foster a successful future within an innovative and supportive community.
Our 12-week program is specifically tailored for people in federal jails and for people out on bail under pretrial supervision. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are over 52,000 people incarcerated in federal pretrial detention facilities and over 22,000 people under pretrial supervision with limited access to educational opportunities or programming. Where we work in New York, after federal arrest, a person spends an average of 18 months (and often much longer) awaiting trial or sentencing. Unlike in state or local cases, in federal cases, the sentence is not finalized until the sentencing date. Our participants have described the period of time of awaiting sentencing or trial as "being in limbo," with the inability to move forward or do anything else.
Focus Forward's classes provide participants with the space and tools to better utilize this period of uncertainty by focusing on the future and creating a plan for reentry. Regardless of whether a graduate receives an incarceratory sentence, the stigma of being charged with a crime, and the stressful process of navigating through the criminal justice system, are challenges that we fundamentally believe should not be faced alone.
Our small class size fosters a trusting and supportive environment where participants are encouraged to engage in honest discussion, express ideas, and share their feelings. By creating a safe and unique community, participants work through challenges together, learn from shared experiences, and support one another in their paths forward. Our curriculum also focuses on skills-based training that our participants can use to further their education or careers. The combination of practical training presented in a unique support group model has made Focus Forward an invaluable experience for hundreds of participants.