March 21, 2014, Chicago IL – Neli Vazquez Rowland, Co-founder and President of A Safe Haven was a featured speaker at the National University of Colombia in Bogota, Columbia, South America, at its International Exhibition and Seminar on Correctional Facilities; “A Window to the World of Seclusion”, on March 21 and 22, 2014. The event was developed and coordinated by the Extension Center Academic (CEA) of the Faculty of Arts at the National University of Colombia, in conjunction with the Prison and Jail Unit Services.
Vazquez Rowland’s presentation was presented entirely in Español, focused on national and international issues of human dignity; and addressed prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration of prison inmates. She shared A Safe Haven’s innovative approach to working and partnering with Illinois Department of Corrections and Cook County Jail systems; and the philosophy and the importance of prevention, diversion and transitioning people in crisis back to society in a sustainable manner. A Safe Haven has achieved significant reduction in the rate of incarceration and the rate of recidivism by offenders and ex-offenders by providing stable housing, healthy nutrition and individualized case management that helps address the root causes of poverty, and crime.
Individualized protocols for residents of A Safe Haven may include services that address substance abuse and mental health issues; workforce development strategies; and access to permanent employment and housing. “It’s exciting to be part of an international movement, and have criminal justice and correctional system leaders from around the world, in open dialogue on how to create comprehensive models to help mainstream low impact offenders become positive and productive members of society, states Vazquez Rowland.” And, “I am so thankful to have been invited to have our voice at A Safe Haven Foundation heard by leaders from political, academic, prison architects and prison industry leaders from Argentina, Spain, Belgium, Guatemala, Columbia, and many more. As many correctional systems are facing human rights violations due to overcrowding and inhuman conditions, many countries are planning and experiencing a renaissance in their approach to corrections, criminal justice and are truly committed to humane and economic efforts to reduce the rate of crime, high rates of recidivism and to reduce exploding costs and growth of prison populations. I came to share, and I am grateful and inspired to find myself learning so much.”