Suit drive hopes to help inmates present "best self" in second chance

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Can a new suit really change the way you feel? That is what The Black Bar Association hoped to accomplish with its “Suited for Success” suit drive that began January 17th. The program hopes that a second-hand suit can help young men with their second chances at life. 

The suits will benefit men recently released from Rikers Island and give them an opportunity to present their “best self” as they look for gainful employment. The drive got a big boost from the widow of the late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, when she donated 20 of his suits and related clothing to ex-cons re-entering society.

Lu-Shawn Benbow-Thompson said in a press conference, “My hope and prayer is that this clothing helps someone land their first significant job, obtain independence or even improve their self-esteem.”

Psychology research in recent years has shown that clothes do, in fact, make the man. As reported by The Atlantic, a recent study looked specifically at how formal attire can change people. “Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world,” says Abraham Rutchick, an author of the study and a professor of psychology at California State University, Northridge.

In addition to the D.A.’s office and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, the “Suited for Success” drive is also sponsored by the NAACP-Mid Manhattan Branch Criminal Justice Committee as well as “100 Suits for 100 Men.”

According to a press release from the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, 67% of released prisoners are rearrested within three years of release. 

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