Family Life Center imperiled by Bernie Madoff

The Rhode Island Family Life Center is an important voice in the local cause of criminal-justice reform, so this is troubling news:

Providence, RI, December 15, 2008-- As the growing impact of Bernie Madoff's outrageous scheme unfolds nationwide, Rhode Islanders might be surprised to hear that a local non-profit has been affected by Madoff's massive fraud. The Rhode Island Family Life Center (FLC), a small non-profit on the Southside of Providence that provides services and support for people with criminal records, and advocates on behalf of individuals and communities affected by crime and incarceration, learned today that two of its primary funders, the JEHT Foundation and the RockIt Fund, lost their endowments to Madoff. Both foundations will close their doors in January 2009, leaving the FLC with an uncertain future.

The FLC's Right to Vote campaign, which restored voting rights to Rhode Islanders on parole and probation through a ballot initiative in 2006 and continues to register these new voters, was funded by the RockIt Fund. The JEHT Foundation provided the FLC with funds for general operating expenses and policy advocacy through the Reinvest in Justice campaign.

Sol Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Family Life Center, stated, " The JEHT Foundation has been a supporter of the Family Life Center since we opened our doors in 2003. We are saddened by the news but will continue to work for the values that they stood for: Justice, Equality, Human Dignity, and Tolerance."

"In the coming legislative season, we plan to work on several policy changes that are vital to reducing the budget, making communities safer, and restoring fairness to the prison system," says Nick Horton, a Policy Researcher for the Family Life Center. In 2009, stated Horton, the FLC plans to advocate for treatment instead of prison for people with drug addiction, an option that research indicates is more effective and less expensive than prison. In addition, the organization plans to continue work on the Justice and Innocence Bill, which frees people from prison if they have been acquitted of the crime.

The organization's website,, details their long history of service and successful advocacy on behalf of Rhode Island communities.

As a response to this loss in funding, the FLC will launch a donation drive in early January, with the hope that small donors can help support some of the advocacy work that they feel is so important. "In these times of crisis, Rhode Islanders need to come together and support members of the community who are struggling. I hope that we can count on the support and generosity of our friends and supporters to help the center continue its work," said Rodriguez.

Donations are accepted online at or at 841 Broad Street, Providence, RI 02903.

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