Target: Francis J. Greenberger, Founder of the Greenberger Center for Social and Criminal Justice
Goal: Thank Mr. Greenberger for establishing a safe residence for mentally ill individuals convicted of crimes
A developer and owner of over 20,000 apartment complexes for the past 50 years, Mr. Greenberger turned his attention toward mental illness when it came to affect him personally. His son, the eldest of four children, has received multiple diagnoses for various mental conditions. Growing up, he struggled in mainstream school, but suffered even more when his mother died of cancer. Now, Mr. Greenberger is planning to construct a twenty-five-bed facility for mentally ill persons charged with criminal offenses, according to an article in the New York Times. Thank Mr. Greenberger for helping to fight stigma and devoting much-needed resources to this vulnerable population.
A tragic experience a few years ago was what compelled Mr. Greenberger to become the perhaps unexpected advocate for prison reform that he is today. While walking home one day, Mr. Greenberger’s son became convinced that he was being followed by a drug dealer. Despite his father’s pleas over the phone to wait for his live-in aides, his son called the police, who ignored him. At a loss for what to do, his son gathered scraps of trash and lit them on the stove, calling the fire department, which he thought would help him. Instead, he was charged with arson. It was only when the district attorney, in response to Mr. Greenberger’s plea for an alternative to prison, told him to look for a suitable treatment facility, that Mr. Greenberger found there were actually none nearby and consequently, decided to build his own.
A twenty-five bed facility, the Greenberger Center for Social and Criminal Justice will be a place where those who are able to demonstrate a connection between their mental illness and their offenses can seek treatment and find support. Treatment would emphasize group therapy and would continue for one to three years.
By signing the petition below, you can recognize Mr. Greenberger’s vital efforts to support mentally ill inmates.
Dear Mr. Greenberger,
I am writing to applaud your upcoming Greenberger Center for Social and Criminal Justice, dedicated to treating mentally ill individuals charged with criminal offenses. In opening up this center, you are already filling a major health disparity and setting a powerful example of how we might reevaluate the effectiveness of our criminal justice system.
You are taking concrete actions to show the positive impact of reform and rehabilitation versus imprisonment, and I truly commend your leadership and dedication to this cause. I wish you and the Greenberger Center the best of luck, and want to express my sincere thanks for providing much-needed support to this vulnerable community.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Hakilon via Wikimedia Commons