Returning to society after incarceration can be really hard. Re-entry programs exist to help previously incarcerated individuals transition back into the community. These programs provide resources like job training, housing assistance, healthcare, education, and more. Re-entry programs aim to lower recidivism rates and improve public safety.
There are many different types of re-entry programs out there. Some are run by nonprofits, government agencies, and even for-profit companies. Programs can provide general re-entry services or be more specialized like focusing on employment, housing, or counseling. There are also programs specifically for certain populations like women, veterans, or people with substance abuse disorders.
Residential Re-entry Programs
One type of re-entry program is residential re-entry, also known as halfway houses or transitional living. These provide housing for individuals after release in addition to other re-entry services. Residents can stay for months up to a couple years depending on the program. Having a stable place to live along with support services has been shown to lower recidivism.
Finding a job after release is critical but can be very difficult due to stigma, gaps in work history, and lack of skills or education. Re-entry programs provide job training, interview prep, resume building, and connections to potential employers. For example, Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of South Florida offers computer skills training, resume help, mock interviews, and access to a database of over 3,800 employers open to hiring those with criminal records.
Some re-entry programs focus on providing educational opportunities, from GED preparation and high school diplomas to vocational training and even college courses. Improving education levels leads to better employment outcomes. Project 180 in Florida offers a 2-year apprenticeship program in organic farming, business, and construction.
Connecting returning citizens to medical and mental healthcare is crucial. Programs help sign people up for health insurance so they can continue needed treatment. There can be gaps going from care inside prison to outside, so re-entry programs coordinate with correctional facilities. Access to substance abuse treatment is especially important.
Mentorship from someone who has successfully re-entered society can provide invaluable guidance. Ready4Work pairs participants with life coaches and case managers. Having a mentor to turn to helps build a community support system.
Reentry courts provide supervision as well as connect participants to reentry services. Participants check in regularly with a judge who monitors their progress. Courts aim to address and reduce reentry barriers. For example, the Drug Reentry Alternative Model (DREAM) court in the Western District of Washington helps ensure successful reentry for those with substance abuse issues.
Benefits of Reentry Programs
Investing in reentry programs improves public safety and saves taxpayer money. Studies show participants have:
- Lower rearrest rates
- Lower reincarceration rates
- Improved employment outcomes
- Increased earnings
- Better mental health
- Reduced substance use
- More stable housing
The programs aim to address major barriers faced such as lack of work and housing. Reentry programs also connect people to healthcare and treatment services. With support, formerly incarcerated individuals can successfully contribute to their communities.
Government Reentry Efforts
There are government initiatives and grants to expand reentry services nationwide. The Department of Justice has made reentry a priority and highlighted benefits like reduced recidivism and improved public safety. The Bureau of Justice Assistance in the DOJ provides grant funding for adult reentry programs to state and local governments and nonprofits.
How to Find a Program
Those looking for help can search online for reentry programs in their state or city. Sites like https://www.reentryprograms.com have listings by location. Nonprofit organizations, government agencies, parole/probation officers, and criminal justice case workers can also refer people to programs.
In conclusion, reentry programs provide vital resources and support to facilitate successful transitions after incarceration. Investing in reentry improves lives and communities.