In 1991, Sheila left behind a job as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times to search for meaning. Fate gave no clues that her yearning would ultimately unite her with a man who would begin his own search for meaning and redemptionafter taking another man's life in the very year that Sheila returned to the United States to begin her new life.
In her search, she stumbled upon the prison ministry at the Riverside Church in New York. She started attending meetings, and was asked to correspond with incarcerated men and women who wrote to the ministry. Although generally viewed as faceless statistics or frightening stereotypes, the people she came to know through letters were multidimensional, talented and complex human beings, much like the rest of us. More than a few had used their time in prison to rethink and disavow the values and belief systems that had brought them there.
In August of 2002, the prison ministry received a letter from Joseph Robinson, who was incarcerated at Sullivan Correctional Facility. He wanted someone to write to. Sheila wrote him back, and thus began a long correspondence that would make both their lives richer.
After more than a year of corresponding, she traveled to Sullivan Correctional Facility in 2003 to meet Joe. And in 2005 Sheila married him because she had come to love and respect and be inspired by the man he had created to honor his best self.
Joe and Sheila founded the Think Outside the Cell Foundation to end the stigma of incarceration and to help the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated and their loved ones through literacy, education, personal development and the removal of societal barriers to the American Dream. When the barriers are removed, those who live in the long shadow of prison can create their own opportunities.
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Our mission is to bring the general public into contact with members of the legal community in order to increase overall awareness of legal policy, and to facilitate discussion toward the reform of the criminal justice system.