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Divine Lipscomb

Topics of discussion

Restorative Justice

Pre-arrest diversion

Issues addressing recidivism

Divine Lipscomb

“I am a native New Yorker. Born, bred, fed,” says Divine Lipscomb. Recalling his childhood in Brooklyn, he sees a kid “buried in trauma,” struggling with addiction, and who was a “prime candidate” for gang membership. By age 16, he had two felony arrests for armed robbery and was sentenced to four years in state prison -- 15 months of which he spent in solitary confinement. Not surprisingly, reentry into society was difficult: “You come home the same age you were when you went in. So, mentally I was 16 when I came home -- in a grown man’s body.”

After his release, despite setbacks and relapses, he found success as an entrepreneur. The self-sufficiency and freedom he felt inspired his vision for Corrective Gentlemen, Divine’s non-profit organization. Its mission is to provide support and mentoring for returned citizens, a term Divine prefers to “former inmate.” He also returned to school. At Penn State, Divine is a rehabilitation and human services major and works as the special projects coordinator for PSU’s Restorative Justice Initiative. In addition, he volunteers at the local drop-in shelter to support returning citizens and is active in organizations that allow his experience to lend a voice to the unheard. In 2020, his academic achievements and advocacy were honored: Divine was awarded PSU’s 2020 “Outstanding Adult Learners Award” and the Rock Ethics Institute's 2020 “Stand Up Award”.

Today, Divine wears many hats: student, husband, father, advocate, entrepreneur, public speaker, board member, volunteer, teacher, executive director, and returned citizen. He has his eye on law school and hopes to one day sit in public office.

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