Toyan “TJ” Harper: Re-entering Family Rituals After a Period of Absence | All Together #32

In this episode, host Gabriella Joustra is joined by Toyan “TJ” Harper, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, who delves into the challenges faced by individuals re-entering society after a period of absence and how family rituals can support this transition

Whether individuals are returning from incarceration or other forms of separation, reestablishing connections with family dynamics and rituals demands patience, empathy, and assistance. In this exploration, Toyan “TJ” Harper delves into the hurdles and possibilities encountered when individuals reintegrate into family rituals following an extended period away.

Toyan “TJ” Harper

Toyan Harper, or known as TJ, is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. TJ’s work revolves around the intersection of family dynamics and the reentry journey. His personal experiences, including witnessing the enduring impact of the criminal legal system on his loved ones, motivate his commitment to decarceration efforts and reimagining reentry.

TJ has worked as a creative writing instructor at a youth detention center and has been involved with various social justice-oriented nonprofits. His journey has been shaped by his experiences and passion for understanding the complexities of the prison system and its impact on families.

About the episode

This episode dives deep into the heart of reentry after incarceration and the pivotal role of family rituals. TJ shares his experiences and perspectives, shedding light on the challenges of re-entering society, especially about family dynamics. He emphasizes the importance of supportive environments and external resources during this transition phase.

The conversation also touches upon the broader context of prison reform, advocating for a shift towards rehabilitation and treatment for individuals with drug addiction. TJ’s insights challenge conventional thinking, highlighting the current system’s flaws and proposing a more holistic approach.

TJ further explores the evolving nature of family dynamics, emphasizing inclusivity and support within families, regardless of traditional structures. His candid reflections underscore the resilience and adaptability of families in navigating the complexities of reentry.

In conclusion

In a society grappling with the challenges of incarceration, reentry into the community remains a formidable hurdle for many individuals. The impact on families is profound, from the daunting task of finding employment to the strained relationships and missed milestones. The system’s focus on punishment over rehabilitation and the disparities it perpetuates further complicate the journey toward reintegration. Therefore, establishing and maintaining family rituals can provide a crucial support system for individuals during this transition period, helping to foster a sense of belonging and stability amidst the upheaval.

Be the first to see our next episode. Follow us on social media to stay updated:





You can also subscribe and listen to our podcasts on your preferred podcasting platforms: 

Apple Podcasts



iHeart Radio




Google Podcast

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.