Need for Reentry Services
Most prisoners are coming home. However, many of them are likely to leave prison without proper preparation for reentry. While most correctional facilities provide various programming such as: chemical dependency treatment, sex offender treatment, anger management, cognitive change, parenting and GED classes, as well as further education opportunities, not all inmates are able to participate due to the length of their sentences and long waiting lists to get into the programs.
All prisoners face a multitude of barriers upon reentry, even those who have taken advantage of correctional facility programming. These barriers include finding a job and a place to live, meeting basic needs, dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues, lacking education, having no means of transportation and often no valid identification. Ex-offenders are often unable to access assistance and support in overcoming these barriers.
After release, probation or parole (supervised release) is most often the only link for ex-offenders. Due to limited resources, extremely high caseloads, and the nature of the contact, supervising agents are often unable to provide intensive, individualized case management services. Without coordinated reentry services or training in the specifics of ex-offender employment and transition services, community organizations each start from the beginning in trying to address the needs of ex-offenders.
Without assistance, the majority of ex-offenders return to criminal activity. Nationally, 60% of all ex-offenders re-offend within three years and 40% are re-incarcerated. Many offenders are ready and willing to change; the attitudes and misconceptions of the public need to change as well. Being tough on crime is not helpful if we as a community do not give ex-offenders a chance to succeed.
Ex-offenders share unique kinds of needs as they seek
to avoid recidivism and re-enter the community
s u c c e s s f u l l y. Services to meet these needs are
fragmented and not comprehensively available.
Information is not easily available about what services are
available and how to access them. Data to plan for
services are insufficiently available.
•Members of the public lack an accurate understanding of
the needs of and services for ex-offenders. A prevalent
public attitude places a stereotypical stigma on all
ex-offenders, which impedes their efforts to live stable
and productive lives and may increase recidivism.
•Many services needed by ex-offenders are insufficiently
available and/or funded. Examples include transitional
h o u s i n g, housing opportunities for sex-o f f e n d e r s ,
s u b s t a n c e-abuse and mental-health treatment, and
mentoring for ongoing personal support.
Benefits of Our Program
This program serves the community at several levels:
- Creates a safer community by reducing recidivism
- Serves over 600 ex-offenders per year, empowering them to become productive, law-abiding members of the community
- Provides more effective working relationships between agencies through increased collaboration
- Supports the correctional system in assisting ex-offenders as they transition back to the community
- Increases community education and awareness regarding myths and stereotypes of offenders as well as the challenges and barriers ex-offenders face in reentry
- Involves community members as mentors, interns and through academic service learning projects
Ex-offenders need resources geared specifically to them, resources that address their concerns and keep them focused on realistic objectives. Such resources take tried-and-true job search and career management strategies and apply them to unique circumstances faced by ex-offenders in their quest to reintegrate.They also face feelings of alienation and despair. They tend to be less skilled and educated, and thus feel disempowered. They need hope, and that means taking the long view on what it means to be successful and how to get there.
It means starting at the bottom and working their way up. It also means having the right resources from the moment they leave their prison walls so they can make their way to a brighter future.