FRESH START INTERNATIONAL
VISION: Where everybody gets a new beginning through implementing sustainable services, support, resources and restorative justice.
MISSION: Coordinating services that assist formerly incarcerated individuals with successful re-entry events, programs, skills, and opportunities which promotes equity, autonomy, and empowerment.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this organization is to reduce recidivism, restore lives, and reimagine a robust model of restorative justice to formerly incarcerated ex-offenders returning from prison to their family and community.
HISTORY: Fresh Start all started in June of 2019 from the vision of our founder and CEO, Dr. Da’Mond T Holt. After seeing the vicious cycle of oppression of the justice system, he didn’t just want to stand by and allow this oppressive and depressing cycle to continue in the lives of ex-offenders. So, he started the Fresh Start Rights and Restoration event. Dr. Holt reached out to Pima County Public Defender’s Office and the Pima County Justice Courts and other agencies to help ex-offenders to get the rights restored and their convictions set-aside. He planned to host another Fresh Start for 2020 but the pandemic halted that plan. Though Dr. Holt couldn’t host Fresh Start for the year of 2020 due to the pandemic, however it did allow him to re-imagine Fresh Start to become a larger event by offering more programs and resources as a one-stop-shop event as what it is structured today.
More than 6.1 million Americans nation-wide face voting restrictions based solely on their legal history. Some states, such as Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, automatically restore voting rights to individuals who have been released from prison or completed their sentencing. However, Arizona’s disenfranchisement law does not automatically restore voting rights to those leaving the legal system, and many individuals aren’t sure how to navigate the complex rights restoration process. In fact, 53% of individuals (about 116,717 people) who have lost their right to vote in Arizona are eligible to vote again, but they haven’t been told how to restore this essential right or they don’t know where to begin.
The ACLU has reviewed available research and concluded that “disenfranchising persons after release from prison is antithetical to the reentry process and harmful to long-term prospects for sustainable reintegration of ex-offenders into society”. They found that individuals who voted were half as likely to be re-arrested as their non-voting counterparts. These statistics demonstrate a clear relationship between voting and recidivism, or the rate at which individuals commit additional criminal offenses and re-enter the legal system. Through this lens, it becomes clear that one of the key components of successful reintegration is cultivating a sense of belonging and active participation in the community.
FOUNDER’S BIO: Dr. Da’Mond T. Holt is the founder and CEO of Fresh Start International. He is the brainchild and visionary of the Fresh Start Expo that is hosted in Tucson Arizona for formerly incarcerated ex-offenders at the Tucson Convention Center. Dr. Holt is the senior pastor of the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, board president of the Tucson Urban League, and president of the IMA of Tucson. Professionally, he is also a Trauma/PTSD and Mental Health Specialist that has an expertise in psychological early childhood trauma. It is Dr. Holt’s passion and vision to equitably educate and empower ex-offenders with support, resources, and opportunities to restructure and rebuild their lives as they re-enter their community.