"I got involved because I knew this was a project addressing issues that were important to a large population not only to Philadelphia but across the nation," said master of journalism student Antoinette Lee. Lee was one of nine interns to participate in the Reentry Project, a collaborative initiative exploring the re-emergence of formerly incarcerated people back into society.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, one in three adults in Philadelphia have been incarcerated and 58 percent will be reincarcerated within three years. The United States prison population spiked dramatically in the 1980s, leaving many urban communities stripped of their most vital resource, youthful men and women of color.
"We have the largest incarceration rate in the world," said James McMillan, assistant director for external affairs at Klein College.
The Reentry Project for one year unites 15 of the city's media organizations to address the challenges of recidivism and reentry faced by many Philadelphians. Partnered news outlets include The Philadelphia Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, and WHYY Newsworks all coming together to investigate the socioeconomic burdens of returning citizens and their communities through solutions oriented journalism.
"Formerly incarcerated citizens face issues concerning lack of employment, housing, health, and education," said McMillan. For these reasons and many others, the Reentry Project hosted its first-ever "hackathon" titled "PowerUp Reentry : A Digital Solutions Day."
"A hackathon is an event that brings together technologists and subject matter experts to try to create technological tools and in this case in order to help those transitioning back into society," said Jean Friedman, project editor.
"I feel like I have a role to play and I can't stand to be silent," said Antoinette Lee.