Qwan Flemming was our first participant at Joseph House. In fact, Qwan was with us before there was a house in Joseph House. Qwan was born and raised in Tallahassee, Fl. He was caught up in the system at an early age. Two years ago Fr. Dustin met Qwan while he was in solitary confinement at Santa Rosa CI. Like many others, Qwan was released from prison while in confinement. He was put on a bus and homeless at age 23. Fortunately, our volunteers Brian and Sonya were at the bus station to pick up Qwan and begin the journey of walking with him as he reentered society.
Currently there are over 10,000 individuals warehoused in solitary confinement in Florida’s prisons – that’s double the nationwide average. We at Joseph House are working to ensure that those men exposed to solitary confinement are recognized and supported by a compassionate community upon their release because we accept numerous studies which show solitary confinement has harmful effects on an individual’s mental health and body. And the trauma doesn’t end there because it also has harmful effects on the communities these individuals are returning to.
The impact of Joseph House
A sad statistic that shocks us at Joseph House is that nearly all incarcerated individuals have been exposed to significant trauma. Eight months after Bishop Wack green-lit Joseph House, we began accompanying Qwan as he left directly from solitary confinement to the Leon County bus station where a few of our volunteers met him, took him to lunch, and began accompanying him through the various stages of reintegration. Some nine months later we purchased our first home in the midtown area of Tallahassee. It was our hope to create a dignified home in a safe area well-situated for our residents to live within the larger Tallahassee community. Our house was intentionally selected so we could have a therapeutic space that recognizes the rate of PTSD among the incarcerated is 4 to 10 times more than the rest of society. For this reason, we have sought to create and maintain a home that expresses love and peace for those staying with us.
Qwan now lives in Marianna, Fl with his girlfriend Samantha. He works with a construction crew that’s helping rebuild parts of the panhandle destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Qwan’s journey on the path of reintegration continues as does our journey with him.