||About MASS and Its Founder
The vision to build an organization on the cornerstone of Justice and Equality began in 1989 when Joyce Ann Brown was released from prison after serving more than nine years for a crime she did not commit. She realized early on that passion and commitment were not enough to build an effective organization that was responsive to those most in need. Her initial goal was simply to nurture change in an inequitable judicial system by supporting the wrongfully convicted. But her passion to support others who had lost their voice in the community soon led her to expand the mission of the organization to include:
- Helping those being released from prison readjust to life without bars and become productive law-abiding citizens
- Providing support for children and families of adult offenders who are themselves at high risk of continuing the cycle of crime and poverty
- Improving economic opportunity by promoting educational achievement, job development and housing availability
- Public advocacy of the Innocence in Prison programs and the issues that contribute to the cause
|Joyce Ann Brown, President/CEO; James L. Maynard, Barbara Hawkins, Supporters.
Thus, Mothers (Fathers) for the Advancement of Social Systems was formally incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1993 and founded on two basic principles. First, clients must be actively committed to acquiring the life skills necessary to become productive citizens. Second, staff throughout the organization must do more than provide guidance. They also must be good listeners and inspire buy-in through their own personal dedication, hard work and example. Most current full-time staff started as volunteers.
Ms. Brown has maintained an active involvement in the organization's growth for over a decade as President and Chief Executive Officer. It began with little more than a small group of determined volunteers from a room in the Brown household. Prior to founding MASS Inc., she worked for County Commissioner John Wiley Price after being released from prison.
Programs, Services and Capabilities
MASS Inc. has two divisions within its service organization. The Innocence in Prison Program was created to provide support to the wrongfully convicted and public awareness to the troubling issues that contribute to this. The unthinkable can happen and too often there is no one to help. Many innocent people are arrested, convicted and sent to prison and the numbers are growing. Often they are poor, minority and powerless. The large majority of them are disenfranchised by a judicial system more attuned to high prosecution rates than simple justice. Demand for direct legal intervention is costly and far exceeds current budgetary resources, although it is provided on a limited basis. Other services are considered and prioritized based on need and impact studies to include:
- Public policy and advocacy campaigns and seminars
- Case review and referral services
- Counseling for released persons wrongfully convicted
The State of Texas houses the second largest prison population in the United States. Most ex-offenders will need some kind of assistance when they are released if they want to stop the cycle of crime and poverty. The Reintegration to Society Program was designed initially for those ex-offenders and their families who were seeking to overcome economic hardship and a host of other social stigma in becoming law-abiding, productive citizens. The program was expanded to include the families of incarcerated offenders and those on probation.
MASS Inc. services are based upon a multidisciplinary approach where Case Managers serve as mentors in assisting clients with needed counseling, education, job placement and housing. The goal of these programs is to strengthen and maintain the bond between participants and the families while providing an avenue for economic independence and self-sufficiency. Because every client's needs are widely different, an assessment of each family member is done before support begins. After the initial assessment, a comprehensive strategy is formulated to provide those services that meet the family's needs. They include:
- Counseling, Individual and Family Therapy
- Extended Learning, Substance Abuse, Education, Parenting, Cognitive Skills Development, Computer Training, On-The-Job Training
- Job Development - Interviewing, Job Search, Placement
- Housing Assistance, Referrals, Transition Assistance, Temporary Housing
- Transportation, Travel to and from Texas prisons for children whose parents are incarcerated
What Sets Us Apart From Others
Target Population Clients come from low income families. Most are from minority groups and a large percentage are African American since they are disproportionately represented in prison populations. Ex-offenders and those on probation are often excluded from services normally available to others and therefore are at high risk of committing other crimes. MASS Inc. works with clientele least likely to receive help elsewhere.
Commitment to Progress MASS Inc. programs are designed to encourage participation by involving participants in establishing family goals and setting benchmarks for measuring progress. Many clients have common problems and gain confidence as they work collectively to accomplish similar goals.
Dynamic Services Programs are designed to be responsive to individual needs but are integrated into a common Family Service Plan. Family needs change, however, and services can be modified to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. Counseling and educational programs are linked with housing and job placement assistance.
Multidisciplinary Approach to Problem-Solving MASS Inc. works with former incarcerated people, those on probation and the youth and families of each group. Their widely divergent needs require greater staff capability and attention to detail, but this methodology has proven to be more effective then piece-meal programs. Family members usually can receive services at one location, there's less potential for gaps or delays in support, and administrative management is more efficient. Perhaps that's why MASS Inc. programs have been very popular with clients for almost a decade.
Quality Control MASS Inc. takes great pride in maintaining the highest standards for program quality and financial integrity. Usually, several contract audits are conducted each year, depending on the preference of the contracting agency. MASS Inc. had never had one dollar in disallowed cost in its history. In addition, all clients are provided a post-assessment survey before discharge that evaluates performance so that future programs are relevant and appropriate to their needs.