lidja, I've given this quite a bit more thought and received more emails from Defy and Catherine. Re-reading The Daily Beast story, I'm getting the sinking feeling that one not very well fact-checked emotional story brought down all of Defy and left prisons and hundreds of incarcerated people and volunteers without one of the best things to happen to them.
For example, the part about Catherine saying Defy regularly does the line exercise with EITs only is true. The EITs confirm that. It's the humane thing to do before they have the public pressure of doing it in front of volunteers like me. Here is what Catherine actually said about it:
And finally, as for The Daily Beast’s misleading reporting about Step to the Line: we regularly do this important exercise with EITs only – when donors are not present – and EITs consistently report it to be one of the most humanizing and empowering experience of their lives. At the end of the exercise, we call out the question, “I might not be able to explain it, but even though I’ve been revealing difficult things and have made myself vulnerable in this exercise, right here, right now, I feel safe, accepted and loved.” In 13 years of leading this exercise with thousands of EITs, they overwhelmingly agree with this statement. Prison officials who not only witness Step to the Line, but sometimes even participate themselves, frequently say it is one of the most remarkable, game-changing elements of our innovative programming.
She is not denying that they also do it with volunteers like me. With each session, they take extensive photos of us doing it that we can share on social media. It's not something they have a reason to cover up, it's one of the very best, most life-changing parts of the program.
Some of the other stuff The Daily Beast seemed to be critical of, that she made a $150,000 salary... Really? Have they any idea how hard she works, how much she has to travel, how much she has accomplished? After witnessing the program, that number doesn't seem out of line to me.
I really wonder how much Kelly Weill, who wrote the piece, really knows about the program or if she has ever been through it. The two inmates my wife and I were sponsoring didn't pay tuition, couldn't have paid it I don't think, we paid it for them. Their dreams were to learn a trade (body shop) and another to open a tattoo parlor. Aren't those worthy ideals after being drug dealers? The Daily Beast article made it sound like these guys don't succeed after they get out. Now that Defy has collapsed, the wardens in Stockton and the incarcerated kids who loved the program and didn't agree with what Kelly wrote are out of luck.
I can't answer for the other things, I don't know who could. But I feel I have to defend what I saw and lived.