SOUTHFIELD, Mich., (CBS DETROIT) –April marks Second Chance Month, recognizing the importance of helping people who are behind bars re-enter society. A Detroiter is going a step further by trying to offer them mental health services as soon they enter prison.
At the heart of this bill is to cover a gap in services that occurs whenever a person is sentenced to prison, specifically when it comes to mental health.
No one knows it better than Shawanna Vaughn, who was born in prison, and sent to foster care only to find herself as a young woman back behind bars.
There is no reconstructive reentry, back to society, tools for women and young girls who’ve become incarcerated. It’s you have to fix yourself,” Vaughn said. “I was a 17-year-old black girl from Bakersfield, California, nobody screamed for me, and I learned more adverse life experiences incarcerated, and I faced more trauma and adversity incarcerated than I could ever face.”
She believes that trauma can severely impact the outcome of a person getting a second chance once they’re out of prison.
It’s what prompted her to start ‘Silent Cry,’ a non-profit that has a holistic approach to how they help individuals post-incarceration.
“When people come home from incarceration, you never know who your neighbors are; how well do you want them to be?” Vaughn said.
This is why Vaughn is working with lawmakers to get a bill she wrote passed in Lansing.
She calls it “Post-Traumatic Prison Disorder Shawanna W76337”–that’s her former inmate number
“Which is a bill that mandates holistic healing, a 14 days upon incarceration, that people receive trauma-informed care, and that they’re evaluated by trauma-informed therapist,” Vaughn said.
State representative Jimmie Wilson, Jr. from Ypsilanti plans to introduce this piece of legislation that comes with a $400,000 price tag
“I know that the money matters. But I don’t think that this is a large amount when we’re talking about mental health,” Wilson said. “I believe we can get bipartisan support on this bill, because everyone has family members that have been affected by mental health.”
Vaughn is also trying to get the same proposal passed in the New York State legislature.
“People in trauma don’t know they’re traumatized, and they’re not going to buildings anymore. We need to do non-traditional things in a non-traditional time,” Vaughn said.