Learning Problems (V2)

Learning Problem 1: Anthony Jones is a 32-year old African-American. He grew up in Oakland. He was recently granted parole after being incarcerated for many years at San Quentin State Prison. He prepared for several months before he appeared before the parole board. He is relieved that he was granted parole and is eager to show his friends and family that he has been rehabilitated. He knows he is not the same man who committed the crime many years ago and wants an opportunity to prove himself. Most of all, he wants to keep his head down and avoid trouble. He does not want to get sent back to prison. During his time in prison, he experienced both psychological and emotional trauma. He does not trust the local authorities, police, or the justice system. While his parole was granted, many of his friends in prison were denied. As part of his parole, he needs to find steady employment and housing. He is nervous about reintegrating back into society but is willing to work hard. He knows a lot of people will judge and reject him once they find out he has been incarcerated. He needs to learn the skills to be successful at the job while preparing a strong emotional and mental framework for his transition back into society. How might we build a safe space for Anthony to identify his areas of strengths and improvements to better prepare him for reentry? How might we continue to provide support for Anthony as he is transitioning?

Learning Problem 2: Joe Miller is a Caucasian police officer in the Oakland Police Department. He is a husband and father to two kids, ages 8 and 10. He joined the police force to serve and protect the community. However, the tensions between the police and community are coming to a boiling point. One of Joe’s close friends is African-American and is also from Oakland. Joe has a lot of respect for his friend. Recently, Joe and his friend have been having many discussions about racial tensions in the country and in Oakland, especially in regards to the police. Before, race never seemed like an issue between them. However, he now feels defensive about himself as a Caucasian male and as a police officer. He wants to better understand his friend’s experience but does not want to come off as ignorant or offensive. Joe wants to learn how to engage in discussions about race in an open, healthy manner. He also wants to learn how other people’s life experiences are different from his own because of race. How might we create a safe space for Joe to learn how to develop empathy? How can we help him experience other people’s life perspectives? How can we challenge him to have healthy discussions in real life about difficult topics?

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