There are currently two million Americans who are incarcerated in our country’s prison system at this time. Each year there around roughly 650,000 released (Prisoner Reentry). These individuals are faced with many challenges when reintegrating themselves back into society. This is a very difficult time for them and often times things do not go as everyone planed. This time period is filled with disappointments, whether it be to the parole officers, their families or themselves. Leaving prison to reenter the world can cause a lot of confusion and emotions for the ex-offender.
Being free leaves the responsibility up to them to make sure that they succeed in life and do not make the same mistakes twice. The first thing they need to do is develop a plan. Ex-prisoners come home and have lots of goals and hopes that they believe they can fulfill. They may want to start the business that they always dreamed of. They may remember the times when they wanted to graduate from school. Maybe they want to reconnect with their family and friends. Often times the prison setting generates a sense of urgency in those people.
Short term goals are often better to begin with as long term goals may be more difficult to accomplish and may end in frustration. If they feel the need to get help achieving these goals there are many programs out there to assist them. There is mentoring programs, colleges, business development programs and other non-profit organizations (Community Based Corrections). Going down the wrong path and ending back up where they started is controlled by the prisoner. It is then their responsibility to take control of their own actions.
Parole and probation officers are their to guide them when they are trying to get a new start, they are not there to give them a hard time, just to help them adjust and do the right thing. Their freedom is completely under their control (Prisoner Reentry). If they abide by the law as they should then they will have no problems. So it is evident they the power is in the hands of the ex-prisoner. It takes a lot of work and they have to be willing to tackle anything that comes along. Setbacks are a natural part of that process.
Often after returning to their everyday life they feel like they are out of the loop. They feel like they have missed something and they need to catch up. Everything around them has changed and it’s difficult to accept and adjust to. As said earlier, frustration is often a common reaction. Frustration and disorientation are inevitable. But each prisoner must learn to adjust and deal with the process to be able to transition back into society. Making extremely difficult commitments are not the best decision to make when they are just exiting the prison system they are accustomed to.
That is not the time to make major life decisions (Correctional Leadership). This is more of a time to be in touch with themselves, a time to reflect, focus on the transition and fix things between the prison life and the life that they are trying to live now. Having a spiritual grounding is always helpful. This allows for the ex-prisoner to become part of a supportive community to help eliminate the possibilities of them slipping back into bad territory. It allows for the ex-prisoner to be involved in positive events and activities.
Most of the time when they become involved in religious functions they build accountability. They become more considerate, thoughtful and law-abiding. In my opinion if they were faced with an obstacle or unwanted task they have something to turn to. They have a greater strength behind them. Although this is a positive prospective, there is always they chance of slippage, it is almost inevitable. Making the transition is challenging. Secondary education has also been modified to reflect the sprit of reentry. Education tends to heighten the ex-prisoners self esteem and instill morality.
Often times they face many more obstacles then they believed they would face. Things such as housing affect then after getting out. Sometimes they are able to live with family members or possibly even friends temporarily. But the people that do not have that opportunity are offered little help in finding somewhere to live. Employment is also an issue faced. Many places do not want to hire someone that has been in prison before. Also, the level of education that the person has is a contributing factor to employers saying no to ex-prisoners.
Often times background checks are initiated with the application process of a job and when someone tells them that they have been convicted of a crime the employer is a little more hesitant on hiring this person. But on the other end, only about 62 percent of potential employers would not consider hiring ex-inamtes, only 32 percent reported using background checks on a consistent basis. 38 percent of the potential employers would consider hiring ex-inmates (Police Operations). It is not uncommon to hear of inmates and ex-inmates having lots of health problems.
It is said that many prisoners have severe mental disorders and chronic and infectious disease. Living in prison they are provided a health care facility but it doesn’t stop all the things they are exposed to. Often times it has been proven that when people get out of jail they will try to use their mental incapability to their advantage. Although some of them may have some mental issues I believe that they occasionally try to take advantage of it and get what they can from it. Many of the inmates and ex-inmates have substantial substance abuse history.
Often times when they are released they do not always stay clear of those. Sometimes the prisoners fall back on that after their release. Studies say that fewer then one-third of the inmates receive treatment after incarceration. Drug use is a common reason to why they headed down the wrong path to begin with and not receiving treatment does nothing but put them back at risk to be headed right back down the path in which they just came off of. When being released the best thing to do is plan ahead (10 Keys to Preparing Prisoners for Reentry). First and foremost they should have a plan for the first twenty four hours.
That is the most crucial time since they will be trying to arrange somewhere to stay and to have food to eat. The next step would be to make plans for the next month and then begin to plan for the rest of their future. Identifying their resources available and make sure they know application processes. Identifying friends and family members are good ways to help the ex-prisoners avoid the trouble that they could be facing. Building a constructive future would be helpful when trying to contribute to society. They will need to deal appropriately with the past.
Volunteer projects for charitable organizations helps to build positive relationships with people and credibility. Although prisons offer education and vocational training to help the prisoners develop the skills needed in today’s society they still lack some of the things that others are used to in the free world. For those ex-prisoners who cannot manage to find someone to set up their living arrangements there is transitional housing that gives them structured living environments as they go through the reentry process. Financial assistance is provided to help with housing, clothes and food, it is only the basic necessities.
People coming out of incarceration are often subject to one way of living and when they are released they are faced with something completely different. Things are not the way the remember them and they have to basically start all over. It’s never a picnic for anyone. Tackling reentry is not a destination. It is a journey. There is no perfect reentry. There is bumps along the way and many difficult tasks. They have to work for what they wish to achieve and it is there responsibility. Not everyone makes it, some people slip and fall right back down from where they came.
Then they have to go back and completely start all over again with the whole process. Prisoner reentry is difficult to many but is something that can be accomplished if one works hard enough at it (Correctional Leadership). Programs that have been created to help out the ex-inmates aim to create a safer community and transform lives. President George W. Bush said, “America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life. ” And by that he meant that everyone that leaves prison gets a second chance.
They get to start over again and try to right the wrongs that they did to get themselves in that situation in the first place (Police Operations). In conclusion the people that are reentering today’s society has many things to work at but they also have many opportunities offered to them. They have many groups that are there for support and people that are willing to help. I, as well as the rest of society, am aware that there’s many people that have an “I don’t care” attitude and when they are release they slip right back down. But it seems to me that all they have to do is want to help themselves and others will help them as well.