About FailSafe-Era | How We Began
FailSafe-ERA was founded in 2009 by Juanita Shanks after realizing that her walk through the criminal justice system with her son was not about him or her but what God wanted to do through her to help others who have been affected by incarceration.
From Juanita Shanks:
My journey started before 2009. As I walked through this process, I was overwhelmed with emotions and could not find help anywhere. There was no FailSafe-ERA to help me understand how to gain control of my emotions, how to help him overcome his decisions, and successfully reenter the community. My saving grace was my relationship with God.
In order for me to heal I had to help others and so as I was commuting to work in Washington, DC, I began to visualize the help I needed in the form of an organization.
One that would help families so I thought of “Families Affected by Incarcerated Loved-ones Sincere and Forward-thinking Exhorters – Education, Rehabilitation, Adaptation” and as a government worker I immediately formed it in to an acronym: FailSafe-ERA.
I realize then that my pain created my purpose. This life changing event had such a dramatic effect on our family so when FailSafe-ERA was launched and my main purpose was to help the family, but then came revelation: in order for me to help the families I would have to get to them through the inmates so I began to go in the jail to minister to the inmates and still do today but ministry alone wasn’t enough. They also needed natural growth so I went from ministry only to an integrative holistic approach of natural and spiritual growth.
Since our experience my son has become a personal trainer and published 6 books and authored 2. One of the books he published is one where I captured the many lessons I shared during my jail ministry. It’s called “Building Your Spiritual House: Pathway to the Next Level”.
My daughter, throughout this entire process, never gave up her pursuit of education. I think it made her push harder to pursue her PhD in Counseling and Education. She inspired me to make education a key source to success not only for the returning citizen but also to the affected family member. Education is one of our pillars and key to success.
Over the years I realized that our mission is to help all who have been affected by incarceration: the inmate, the returning citizen, family members, and the community. We do not call them ex-inmates, ex-cons, or formerly incarcerated, we call them returning citizens. We believe that once they have completed their sentences and return to our communities they deserve a chance to become rehabilitated and citizens of our community.