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Intro


Brandon's House

Safeguarding liberty, connections and the just pursuit of life for all.

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Intro


Brandon's House

Safeguarding liberty, connections and the just pursuit of life for all.

Explore

Our Mission

Brandon's House was established to safeguard liberty, connections and the just pursuit of life.  We assist a global network of released prisoners matriculate back into the community by providing policy, advocacy, programming, housing, healthcare, and employment.  

Our Vision

We, at Brandon’s House, envision a world where international prisoners are treated with value and respect and their families and countrymen are encouraged to fully participate in their lives and protect liberty and just treatment.

Our Values:

Unconditional respect

Suspended judgement

Equity

Family and community connection


Brandon's House dba is a program owned and operated by Health Disparities Institute a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) 

 

My Brother Brandon

 

Brandon Warren Rowlands (1983-2016) believed that we chose our current life to be a teacher or learn a lesson. In honor of the lessons Brandon taught us and in his memory we have created a foundation to provide re-entry programs for ex -offenders serving out their sentences in foreign nations. Our evidence based programs will fill gaps in services and are designed address mental health and substance use.    

In Brandon's honor we pledge to create positive change.  Today we draw attention to gaps in the system and use those as the beginning of our story.  Today we protect human rights. Today we create positive and healthy connections so our brother's and sister's know, unwavering, that their lives matter.   

Please join us as we strive to disrupt the broken system.  Join our call to action through donation or work side by side with our team.

100% of all donations go directly to supporting the growth of Brandon's House Program that supports the care and treatment of our brother's and sister's.
 
May your legacy carry on with the force of your spirit
— BBB
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Our Story


Our Story

Our Story


Our Story

Our Story:

The beginning:

Brandon Rowlands passed away in Costa Rica October, 25th 2016 while on early release from a Costa Rican prison. 

During the time my parents spent in Costa Rica preparing to bring Bran home, they had the chance to speak with representatives from the Costa Rican judicial system as well as the United States Embassy.  During these discussions, it was made expressly clear to my parents that support for foreign nationals’ participating in Costa Rica’s early release program, the same one Brandon had qualified for, is entirely deficient.  Conceptually, the program allows individuals with a stellar performance, a confirmed place to stay and promise of employment, to be released to serve the remainder of their sentence within the community.  Given the instability in the social and political infrastructure of Costa Rica, however, the program does not provide adequate support for individuals with significant medical conditions and does not sufficiently account for the inherent instability of health care, housing and employment.  

The Present:

Our initial efforts in Costa Rica have been eye opening, challenging and rewarding.  Brandon's house has already began to successfully serve its mission- providing advocacy, support and protection to foreign citizens.
 

The Future:

Our first international project has taken shape in Costa RIca and with support from our partners we look forward to expanding globally as we build our international reputation.
 

Program Goals:

1) Financial support, and political buy-in to expand capacity and resources for “Brandon’s House.”  We wish to expand services provided through Brandon’s House by proving the positive impact and return on investment that can be achieved through social movements.   

2)  Develop capacity to expand efforts globally. 
 

3) Draw attention to the importance of healthy connections and the value of each and every life.

I believe I speak for everyone who has ever had the opportunity to connect with Bran, or understand his central tenets regarding teaching and learning, or hear a story of his energy and compassion, that his death must be cautionary and impetus for systemic change.  Brandon was an agent of moral integrity.  

 
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Inspirations


Spotlight Inspirations

Inspirations


Spotlight Inspirations

Spotlight Inspirations

Below is a small sampling of media and content that encourages, inspires and educates us.

we wanted to extend these inspirations to you.

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Feature 1

TED Talks are everything.

Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

 

Feature 4

FEATURE 4

Testimony by Robert Kennedy July 27th 2011 on the proposed Consular Notification Compliance Act. In order to "protect our citizens, we need to do our part to protect those of other countries."

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Feature 2

This is the life story of three-time world champion surfer Andy Irons who died at age 32 from a heart attack with the secondary cause being an acute mixture of drugs.

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Feature 3

A list of well-researched public policies that can, with a high degree of certainty, lead to better outcomes coupled with an impressive Return on Investment.

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In the News


In the News

In the News


In the News

"A GREAT MOTIVATION BY THIS WONDERFUL ORGANIZATION" 

BRANDON'S HOUSE IS A CHARITY THAT SUPPORT THE ONGOING EFFORTS TO HELP EX-OFFENDERS HELPING THEM TO RE-BUILD THEIR LIVES AND MOVE ON... See the rest of this great review and write up from the first annual casino style Fundraiser in NYC!

http://nyc77events.weebly.com/brandons-house-fundraiser.html 


PRISONS

U.S. family works to set up Costa Rican halfway house in wake of son's death

MICHAEL KRUMHOLTZ

 

The untimely death of 33-year-old Brandon Rowlands, who spent two years in Costa Rican prison, has spurred his family into action to provide support for U.S. prisoners during their transitions out of local jails.

In late October, 33-year-old U.S. native Brandon Rowlands died in Costa Rica. Shortly beforehand, he had been placed into an early-release program following a two-year prison sentence in La Marina prison in San Carlos for drug possession, his family says.

Because he had already been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, his family in New York had urged Costa Rican prison authorities and U.S. Embassy officials to ensure that Rowlands obtained proper care while behind bars and then later during his probationary release.

“He never received treatment while he was in prison,” his sister, Brianna Brennan, told The Tico Times during a telephone interview. “When he was released, he was not provided with opportunities for jobs or any sort of health coverage.”

The true cause of Rowland’s death remains a mystery, with an autopsy still pending. However, his family members say they think his death could have been avoided had he been given adequate health care by the Costa Rican judicial system here. The family says Rowlands was denied basic resources during his early-release period following prison and, after trying to find work as a surf instructor in Guanacaste, was transferred to a “degraded medical facility” in Nicoya in October where he ultimately died.

In response to his untimely death, Rowlands’ family has begun a fundraiser and sent in a proposal to institute a halfway house system here, named Brandon’s House, to help future U.S. prisoners get back on their feet in Costa Rica.

“We’re dedicated to making his life matter,” Brennan said.

The family, which Brennan said is experienced in implementing “large system transformation efforts” and social projects in the United States, has already raised more than $12,000 on its GoFundMe page as of this writing, but has a way to go still to reach its $250,000 goal.

Working with Costa Rican authorities and a local branch of the halfway house Angeles de Esperanza Foundation, the Rowlands family has proposed the creation of a facility that could hold 20 non-violent, U.S. parolees full-time. Part of the plan for Brandon’s House calls for job opportunities and constant medical attention that the family says will keep ex-convicts busy and happy.

“I am without question, that if Brandon had been provided these opportunities, he would still be alive today,” wrote Brandon’s brother Kellin Rowlands on the fundraiser page. “There is no way to overstate the importance of stability for matriculating ex-convicts.”

Though it seems like the number of North American detainees would be too small for a halfway house to have widespread impact, there are currently 34 U.S. citizens incarcerated or on parole in Costa Rica, according to a Justice Ministry spokesman. The Justice Ministry did not immediately respond to a Tico Times inquiry about their potential collaboration with the project.

The Rowlands have also been in contact with the U.S. Embassy to inquire about grant funding.

“The U.S. Embassy is aware of the Rowlands’ private initiative and we understand that they want to develop it further to assist a vulnerable demographic in Costa Rica,” an Embassy spokeswoman told The Tico Times in an email. “We look forward to learning how it progresses.”

Brandon’s House could sponsor and provide additional part-time shelter for another 30 local residents that have existing social support networks, Brennan said. Costa Rican families could then be paid for housing those daytime residents at a rate of $2 per day, according to the proposal.

A copy of the proposal given to The Tico Times highlights how basic employment and health services have been proven to reduce the rate of prison recidivism by as much as 400 percent in the United States.

“Not only will this be saving lives, but the country gets a return on investment because it won’t be sending more repeat offenders back into the system,” Brennan said. “Under the program, they’ll be physically and mentally flourishing.”

She added that the program’s objectives ultimately align with those of Costa Rican authorities, and that there is a way to make an impact without undermining the Costa Rican justice system or insulting the culture. With penitentiaries badly overcrowded and lacking the most basic of resources, Brandon’s House could permit a sort of breather for local spending on prisons, she said.

In the foundation’s proposal, the Rowlands family estimates that the country would see a $4.2 million return on investment over the first two years. The program would aim to keep out repeat offenders and give back to local Costa Ricans through housing payments or jobs.

At the end of the day, though, the foundation would rely on helping out those who want to get on the right track, honoring the bright persona the Rowlands family remembers in its son and brother.

“He was a model prisoner and he was just the most incredible soul,” Brennan said of her brother. “Even in the whole time he was there, he accepted that the had violated the law and was determined to make up for it.”

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net


May 2012 (Guam) 

May 2012 (Guam) 

August 2016 (Costa Rica), family vacation. Celebrating parent's 35 Wedding Anniversary.

August 2016 (Costa Rica), family vacation. Celebrating parent's 35 Wedding Anniversary.

August 2016 (Costa Rica), family vacation.

August 2016 (Costa Rica), family vacation.

Surfer, free spirit from Albany dies in Costa Rica after prison release

Family questioning events surrounding loss while abroad

By Paul Grondahl November 4, 2016

Albany

Brandon Rowlands, 33, a free spirit who traversed the globe in search of surfing, cliff diving and extreme adventures, died in Costa Rica on Oct. 25 after months of psychiatric turmoil following his release from prison on drug-related charges in the Central American country.

His parents, who live in Albany, flew home with their son's cremated remains on Oct. 29 as they continued to raise questions about the circumstances surrounding his death and pursued answers from Costa Rican and U.S. Embassy officials.

"There are a number of outstanding questions and my family has an ongoing dialogue with U.S. Embassy officials," said his sister, Brianna Rowlands-Brennan, of Delmar.

No cause of death was determined and results from an autopsy are pending, his sister said. U.S. Embassy officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Rowlands served two years of a five-year drug conviction in Costa Rica. After his conditional release from prison a year ago, he struggled as an American expatriate on parole to find housing, work and mental health services. He was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and completed treatment for alcohol and drug addiction.

In prison, he kept clean and sober, volunteered to teach English to inmates and guards and tended a garden at the penitentiary, his sister said.

More Information

How to help To learn about "Brandon's House" or make a donation, go to https://www.gofundme.com/Brandons-house 

His mental health problems intensified after his release and he wound up in a psychiatric hospital on Oct. 7. After his discharge on Oct. 18, he suffered side effects from medication he was given there, according to his sister.

His father's trip to Costa Rica around that time did not resolve his psychiatric or legal issues. Rowlands, who kept in frequent contact with his family, fell ill on Oct. 21 and checked into a hotel room, where staff members found him unresponsive on Oct. 22. Police arrived and he was rushed to a medical clinic on the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste province. He was pronounced dead on Oct. 25.

"Our family regrets our decision to leave Brandon in that broken system and not bring him back to the U.S.," his sister said.

Rowlands grew up in the Catskills town of Delhi, Delaware County, attended SUNY Delhi, and worked as a carpenter in Albany, including renovations of Bombers Burrito Bar, Noche nightclub and others.

He tested with an extremely high IQ and spent the past decade chasing adrenaline-pumping experiences: snowboarding in Colorado, surfing in San Diego, skateboarding in New York City, cliff jumping in Guam and living the surfer lifestyle in Costa Rica. He hoped to become a surf instructor.

His brother, Kellin Rowlands, of Glenmont, started an account on the GoFundMe crowdfunding website that has raised more than $2,600 (as of November 4, 2016) from three dozen donors for "Brandon's House," a program to support foreign offenders in rehabilitation after their prison release in Costa Rica.

Rowlands, who was known as Branney or Bran, loved pizza, bacon and Brussels sprouts, which were planned to be served at a memorial service on Nov. 5 in Delaware County.

December 2015-January 2016 (Costa RIca) Holiday visit with parents.

December 2015-January 2016 (Costa RIca) Holiday visit with parents.

Brandon's House d/b/a under NYS Nonprofit Corporation Health Disparities Institutre Ltd.