70-mile race high­lights me­di­a­tion ser­vices

Run for Re-En­try helps Md. in­mates

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Colin Camp­bell and Jonathan Pitts cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com jonathan.pitts@balt­sun.com

As her brother’s re­lease from prison neared, Rita Do­ran couldn’t help feeling un­easy.

Ricky Man­nen, 31, had been in and out of cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties on a va­ri­ety of charges “for prob­a­bly 13 years of my life,” the 22-year-old said.

Do­ran felt as if she hardly knew him.

“I was go­ing through a lot of stress and anx­i­ety of, ‘What’s go­ing to hap­pen when he comes home?’ ” she said.

To help smooth the tran­si­tion, the fam­ily turned to an or­ga­ni­za­tion called Com­mu­nity Me­di­a­tion Mary­land. The non­profit of­fers free me­di­a­tion ser­vices to all in­mates within two years of re­lease in ev­ery state prison fa­cil­ity, said co-founder Lorig Chark­oudian.

“We look at so­cial chal­lenges in which re­la­tion­ships mat­ter and where me­di­a­tion can help ad­dress a broader so­ci­etal is­sue, and we ap­ply it there,” Chark­oudian said.

On Sun­day, Chark­oudian be­gan her third an­nual “Run for Re-En­try,” a two-day, 70-mile run from Hager­stown to Bal­ti­more, sym­bol­iz­ing the jour­ney in­mates and their fam­i­lies face as they leave prison, to bring at­ten­tion to the ben­e­fits of re-en­try ser­vices.

Stud­ies have found that reen­try me­di­a­tion re­duces re­cidi­vism by 10 per­cent for the first ses­sion, and by an ad­di­tional 7 per­cent for each sub­se­quent ses­sion, Chark­oudian said.

“The metaphor is about all the hur­dles you have to get across to suc­cess­fully rein­te­grate,” she said. “As hard as the run is, I don’t imag­ine I’m ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any- thing like the kind of hard­ships some­one be­ing re­leased from prison does.

“You can do all the prepa­ra­tion, but you still have to make it work one step at a time.”

In ad­di­tion to do­ing the run twice be­fore, Chark­oudian also has run marathons and ul­tra­ma­rathons.

State Del­e­gates Erek Bar­ron of Prince George’s County and Wil­liam C. Smith of Mont­gomery County, and City Coun­cilmem­bers Bran­don Scott and Mary Pat Clarke are sched­uled to at­tend a 1 p.m. news con­fer­ence to­day at the end of the run at the non­profit’s cen­ter on Green­mount Av­enue in Waverly.

Bar­ron, Smith and Scott plan to run the last five miles with Chark­oudian.

Do­ran was skep­ti­cal when Man­nen re­quested that she and their mother, Bar­bara Do­ran, at­tend the me­di­a­tion ses­sions with him ear­lier this year. But they agreed to try it.

They met him and the two vol­un­teer coun­selors in a quiet room used for church ser­vices and a com­puter lab at the Bal­ti­more Pre-Re­lease Unit. The group pulled up chairs around a long ta­ble and for two hours re­hashed what hap­pened, be­gin­ning the com­plex process of mend­ing their dam­aged re­la­tion­ships.

The trained me­di­a­tors took de­tailed notes and mostly stayed silent, al­though they’d oc­ca­sion­ally chime in to help the es­tranged fam­ily mem­bers com­mu­ni­cate a dif­fi­cult thought, Do­ran said.

“It felt like you were talk­ing at the kitchen ta­ble,” Do­ran said. “There was some­one there who could get your point across if you were too afraid to say it, if you didn’t know how to say it.”

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