The concept for Exodus was initiated in the 1970s by a group of inmates at Greenhaven Correctional Facility who realized that prison life was not adequately preparing them to succeed on the outside. In the early 1990’s, Julio Medina, one of the members of the Exodus group, began to realize that the work that Exodus was doing behind prison walls was not enough. Time and again he would see recidivism plague the most well-intentioned individuals – men whose only dreams were to make an honest living, reconnect with their children, and even pay taxes. The story remained constant. Their inability to find and maintain employment made them feel like they were a burden to their families. Despair and hopelessness set in − leading to drugs, crime, and back to prison.
After receiving his Masters Degree in Divinity while serving a 12-year sentence at Sing Sing, Julio vowed to work to break the cycle of recidivism by bringing Exodus to the outside to help formerly incarcerated individuals find employment. However, after leaving prison, he saw the other side of the problem. The inmates he knew on the inside were different after their release. Attitudes they developed as defense mechanisms inside prison were making it difficult to assimilate into society. He even saw this in himself noting that it was only because of an understanding supervisor that he kept his first job as a case manager at an AIDS service organization. In 1999, after working out many of his own reintegration issues, Julio opened Exodus Transitional Community in East Harlem to help formerly incarcerated individuals secure the employment and develop the attitudes they need to succeed at their jobs, reconnect with their families, and fully integrate into mainstream society.
Exodus’s success at meeting the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals has led to us receiving national attention and becoming the signature program for the White House faith based post-release initiatives. In fact, Julio Medina was invited to be First Lady Laura Bush’s guest at the 2004 State of the Union Address.