How ex-pris­on­ers are help­ing ex-pris­on­ers.

For newly re­leased in­mates, the free world can be a con­found­ing and iso­lat­ing place. A new UBC study is at­tempt­ing to change that by con­nect­ing them with peers who’ve man­aged to find their way.

Vancouver Magazine - - News - BY Amy O’Brian

ON THE DAY Larry Howett got out of prison, he was faced with some­thing he had never seen be­fore: an au­to­mated ticket dis­penser at a SkyTrain sta­tion. As he qui­etly watched acou­ple push some but­tons and buy their tick­ets, a pair of young men tried to pick a ƒght with him over a cig­a­rette.

“I said to them, ‘I’ve done more time than you’ve been alive. Don’t make me go back in for smack­ing you.’” In­stead of un­leash­ing his ƒsts, Howett walked away. The choice was a new one for him.

If he’d still been in prison—where he spent 31 years, 10 months and 28days—he would have hit some­one, he says. But upon walk­ing out the doors, he de­cided to leave the jail­house at­ti­tude be­hind and tackle ob­sta­cles with a cool head.

Howett tells his story while stand­ing among tidy rows of let­tuce and chard in a green­house in Mis­sion. Around him, men work the soil, carry tools with pur­pose, tend to the plants. “That guy was in for murder,” he says as some­one walks by. “Your at­ti­tudes, be­liefs and val­ues

Your at­ti­tudes, be­liefs and val­ues are all things you need to change. ey get warped in prison.” — LARRY HOWETT

are all things you need to change. They get warped in prison.”

Howett stayed the course and has made a good life for him­self in the 18 years since his re­lease. Hav­ing spent nearly half his life in jail for drug-re­lated o ences and armed rob­bery, he now works as a men­tor with long-time in­mates tran­si­tion­ing to life out­side. Howett meets them for co ee or lunch, joins them for meet­ings, and oc­ca­sion­ally ex­plores new ac­tiv­i­ties with them, such as bee­keep­ing at the Mis­sion farm. He’s not there to judge or rep­ri­mand them if they make amis­take. He’s there to en­cour­age them when they strug­gle, to o er hope.

His work is part of are search project based at the Col­lab­o­rat­ing Cen­tre for Prison Health and Ed­u­ca­tion (CCPHE), lo­cated within UBC’s School of Pop­u­la­tion and Pub­lic Health. The John Howard So­ci­ety is a part­ner in the project, which aims to ‡gure out how to sup­port men as they tran­si­tion from prison back into thecom­mu­nity, and to de­ter­mine whether peer men­tor­ship is benefi‡cial to their health. Eval­u­a­tion of the men’s progress in­volves monthly fol­low-ups, sur­veys and dis­cus­sion of their health goals. Re­sults are set to be re­leased this month, and the study’s lead re­searcher, Dr. Ruth El­wood Martin, says one thing was clear from the be­gin­ning of the three-year project.

“When they come out [of prison], they are iso­lated, lonely. They want to con­nect with men who are do­ing well. They want to be in­spired,” she says.

While it may seem ob­vi­ous that sup­port and com­mu­nity are key to a healthy life, this is the ‡rst re­search project of its kind in Canada. Pre­lim­i­nary ‡nd­ings of a sim­i­lar study in­volv­ing women in­di­cate that those with men­tors have fewer crim­i­nal charges in the ‡rst three months af­ter their re­lease com­pared to those with no men­tor. Other re­search cited by the CCPHE shows high mor­tal­ity rates fol­low­ing re­lease from prison, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the ‡rst few weeks of tran­si­tion. Alien­ation, stigma, anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion are com­mon.

Many of the men in the men­tor­ship study have been in prison for decades. They come out not know­ing how to use atouch screen or cell­phone. Mo­tion-sen­sor toi­lets and taps in pub­lic wash­rooms con­fuse them, Martin says. Fil­ing taxes, get­ting adriver’s li­cense and ‡nd­ing a doc­tor can be ut­terly over­whelm­ing.

Some will com­mit crimes hop­ing to be sent back to prison, where they can ‡nd com­fort in the fa­mil­iar, adds Howett. “A lot of guys try to go back be­cause it’s what they know. Noth­ing frus­trates me more.”

But with the help of a men­tor— some­one who has been out of prison for at least two years and doesn’t use drugs or al­co­hol—the tran­si­tion can be less daunt­ing.

The men­tor­ing project hosts reg­u­lar fo­rums on top­ics such as smart phones, apps, nalox­one kits and cook­ing. A work­shop on juic­ing was a par­tic­u­larly big hit with the men.

“The men re­ally, re­ally want to be healthy,” Martin says. “If you’ve got a healthy men­tor, it’s kind of like hav­ing a coach, or a big brother or sis­ter.”

They want to see a bit of them­selves in some­one who’s made it, she adds.

“It all boils down to hope.”

Happy Birth­day, Bauhaus. You just turned two and, co­in­ci­den­tally, are near­ing the cli­max of your for­ma­tive sec­ond act. In screen­play par­lance, these should be times of es­ca­lat­ing con­flict. Yet, to the shock of many, you have not im­ploded un­der the volatile an­tics of your dare­devil owner, film­maker Uwe Boll. In fact, you are busier than ever and steadily im­prov­ing thanks to suave ser­vice, a grow­ing wine cel­lar (filled with in­trigu­ing Ger­man and Aus­trian va­ri­etals) and two new tal­ented ex­ec­u­tive co-chefs—an un­con­ven­tional ar­range­ment, granted, but we wouldn’t ex­pect any­thing less from the man who brought us both Blub­berella and Blood Rayne.

A short syn­op­sis of the restau­rant’s dra­matic back­story: the “world’s worst direc­tor,” ac­cord­ing to the Golden Rasp­berry Awards, finds him­self adrift in Van­cou­ver. He loves the tax-credit in­cen­tives that fi­nance his low-bud­get pro­duc­tions but is un­moved by the din­ing scene. Pin­ing for the tweezer-plated haute gas­tron­omy of his na­tive Ger­many, he launches a restau­rant-re­view­ing ram­page via YouTube, liken­ing the de­con­structed desserts of one es­tab­lish­ment to “dog di­ar­rhea.” Af­ter fad­ing to black, he re­turns with a seem­ingly pre­pos­ter­ous plan: to open his own restau­rant and make it the city’s best. Okay, but who the hell would want to work there?

En­ter Ste­fan Hart­mann, for­mer owner of the one-Miche­lin-starred Hart­manns in Ber­lin. Boll pays off the chef’s sub­stan­tial debts and brings him to Canada. Against all odds, Hart­mann makes nice, im­presses crit­ics and deftly steers Bauhaus up­stream. Then, just when every­thing ap­pears to be go­ing hunky-dory, Hart­mann jumps ship to Ta­cofino, the Mex­i­can-food chain for grin­gos. Boll, who is known for feed­ing ac­tors lines pulled out of the air in the ab­sence of a script, could not have dreamed up a more bizarre plot twist.

Un­daunted, Boll pro­motes David Mueller, the un­sung hero who had been qui­etly punch­ing up Hart­mann’s un­der­stated pre­ci­sion cook­ing be­hind the scenes, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously hir­ing Tim Schulte, the star-span­gled Ger­man souschef who did a short stint at Bauhaus but de­clined to re­turn from Aus­tralia with­out an ex­alted ti­tle. To­gether, they cre­ate a sum­mer tast­ing menu that is tech­ni­cally flaw­less (tis­sue-thin ag­nolotti burst­ing with sun-soaked zuc­chini and squash;

tuna? And what’s with the beef short rib glazed in sweet bar­be­cue sauce, set on corn purée and be­decked with caramelized pop­corn? Quirky? Yes. West Coast? Hmm. Ger­man? Nein.

Bauhaus, in the words of an­other critic, has al­ways been “more Miche­lin than Munich.” And there is re­ally no need for the restau­rant to ex­pose its leder­ho­sen. Cus­tomers crav­ing tra­di­tional oom-pah-pah will find com­fort à la carte in the ex­cel­lent veal schnitzel (which no longer over­laps the plate but is even more ten­der, per­haps be­cause it’s pounded with less anger) and a win­try, wild-mush­roomy, volup­tuously creamy geschnet­zeltes (try say­ing that three times af­ter half a bot­tle of Bur­gen­land blaufränkisch).

But who are you, Bauhaus? Are you sim­ply a brash Euro­pean ar­riv­iste with silky sous-vide pro­teins, or do you have some­thing spe­cial to say? At the mo­ment, your iden­tity, while de­li­cious, is not de­fined. If you still want to be the best, you are go­ing to have to re­solve that ten­sion and roar a lit­tle louder into your re­veal­ing third act. ex­quis­ite three-way duck—seared breast, con­fit leg and creamed foie gras). Their food is also im­mensely In­sta­grammable (fork-flake salmon in vi­brant leek-green vichys­soise, har­le­quin-dot­ted with di­a­mond-sculpted veg­gies; adig-wor­thy car­rot cake buried un­der choco­late soil, fresh greens and foam).

Sure, the menu is a tad schiz­o­phrenic. It’s pretty ob­vi­ous which chef is re­spon­si­ble for what dish. And some cour­ses stretch the def­i­ni­tion of “lo­cal.” Can an un­furled sashimi roll gar­nished with mango and av­o­cado be con­sid­ered a B.C. dish merely be­cause it’s an­chored with al­ba­core

To­gether, they cre­ate a tast­ing menu that is tech­ni­cally flaw­less.

Beef short rib

Three-way duck

Larry Howett emerged from prison nearly 20 years ago to find an un­rec­og­niz­able world. Now he o ers his in­sight to sup­port other ex-in­mates cop­ing with the stress of ad­just­ing to free­dom.

Ag­nolotti with zuc­chini and squash

Co-chefs David Mueller and Tim Schulte

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