Two barbers and a battle for forgiveness… Sheba Williams and Antoine Joseph are the founders of the Institute of Forgiveness; they have partnered together to use their skills, training, and lived experience to change the juvenile and criminal justice systems!

After spending years as barber stylists, Antoine and Sheba decided to use their barbering and cosmetology training to make a difference in the juvenile and criminal justice systems in Virginia. They began their mentoring and trade program in 2016 after working together to create a nonprofit called Nolef Turns Inc., that works to help reduce recidivism by helping those with justice involvement and their families successfully thrive post-conviction.

Because the barbering program was the most successful trade offered in Virginia’s Department of Corrections, Antoine and Sheba made the decision to use their barbering training as a tool to help others with self-employment skills, learning what is necessary to become licensed and pass state-certified testing for the programs that they were interested in, how to maintain financial independence, and most importantly, they provided PRE-Entry services for youth who were experiencing trauma that could potentially lead them to the juvenile/criminal justice systems through their mentoring program. Partnering youth with those with learned and lived experience opened them up to opportunities to take a path of success and deter young people from entering the justice system.