With support from Securus Technologies and other local donors, the first Freedom Rides road-ready car is gifted to a previously incarcerated woman successfully tackling the challenges of reentry to aid her job prospects and independence
Freedom Rides, a nonprofit organization that works to help provide road-ready vehicles to those transitioning out of incarceration, today presented the program’s first donated car to Alisha Disotell. Freedom Rides was started by Benito Castro to help alleviate the many transportation hardships often experienced during reentry, as he himself experienced when he was released from prison in April of 2018.
The Freedom Rides program collaborates with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections in helping individuals enrolled in Louisiana’s transitional work programs (TWP), better known as work release, strategically save money through their own Freedom Rides account, which saves a percentage from their daily wages so when they are released from prison they are financially prepared to maintain a road-ready vehicle, secure a license and car insurance, and pay previous traffic fees. Securus Technologies, an organization that is committed to helping those released have a successful reentry, donated funds to help gift the first Freedom Rides vehicle to Ms. Disotell.
“Ms. Disotell has set a remarkable example of remaining committed to a successful rehabilitation,” said Benito Castro, Founder of Freedom Rides. “During her incarceration and transition back into society, she has furthered her education and become a role model to others. I am honored to have helped Ms. Disotell in achieving today’s milestone, which is key to maintaining access to securing jobs and reducing recidivism.”
Recognizing her role as a mentor while incarcerated and her commitment to personal improvement, Disotell’s sentence was commuted by Governor Edwards in June 2021 and she was released to the Louisiana Parole Project’s reentry program. She is currently employed with the Louisiana Property Assistance Agency and also has a part-time job at a local restaurant. The vehicle will assist Disotell as she works towards establishing a career and a promising future following her release.
“Access to transportation is a critical component in successful reentry from prison,” said Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. “I commend Alisha for the hard work she has put forth in furthering her education in prison and maintaining gainful employment following her release. A big part of that success is dependent on her ability to get to work. We are grateful to Benito Castro for his vision in creating Freedom Rides and for paying forward his blessings so that Alisha can also be successful.”
Freedom Rides grew out of Castro’s college thesis – which he undertook while still incarcerated. He earned his college degree on a Securus Technologies tablet as a participant in the post-secondary Lantern Program, which is available in DPS&C state facilities.
“The mission of Freedom Rides highlights the fact that expanding opportunities among the formerly incarcerated is an effort that all members of our community have a hand in,” said Dave Abel, President and CEO of Aventiv Technologies, parent company of Securus Technologies. “It’s why our team at Securus is proud to continue supporting a graduate of our Lantern Program in his work that aligns with our own efforts to reduce recidivism and instill hope, confidence, and pride in those we serve. Something as simple as access to reliable transportation can remove barriers to reentry success – we are proud to work with Benito to help make that possible for Ms. Disotell.”
While incarcerated, Disotell took full advantage of educational opportunities through programming offered by the DPS&C. She earned a Bachelor of Arts General Studies degree from Ashland University. Disotell also took various personal development courses to better herself including Anger Management, Personal Development, Celebrate Recovery, Living in Balance, Victims Awareness and Restitution, and Problem Solving and Decision Making. Disotell became a Certified Social Mentor, and helped fellow prisoners.