Re-entry provides a path to second chances and is one of the key pillars of the criminal justice system.
These types of programs give former offenders opportunities to find fulfillment through work. Finding value in work helps reduce recidivism rates and improve public safety. However, finding meaningful work outside of prison comes with its own set of struggles. In a report done by the Institute for Justice, 40 out of 43 professions examined included restrictions toward individuals with a criminal record.
“About 50 percent will return to jail if we’re not providing them the tools they need, but that’s 50 percent who will make it and we need to pour into them,” said Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey.
Recidivism is an issue for both the government and the community. The government is having to put more money into prisoner care, Mississippi alone spends around $360 million dollars per year on the prison system. With the local community, it means higher crime rates and higher taxpayer expenses.
The high rates of recidivism are often due to the fact of ex-inmates not being able to conquer society basics upon release. Securing housing, transportation, employment, and education necessary for an advanced life is nearly impossible to do alone.
These individuals trying to re-enter society have spent decades incarcerated and are trying to navigate the simplest things that we find to be the basics of everyday life. Experiences like using an iPhone, choosing their own food, or finding transportation can be extremely overwhelming.
“A lot of support needs to be put in place for the first two months so they can through those trip hazards. We can make sure those supports are in place. Making sure people have access to education and gainful employment opportunities,” Alysha Judkins of FWD.us says.
A large part of former inmates re-entering society involves re-entry programs. Reintegrating inmates back into society requires space for transition. These programs offer job training that is crucial to ensure stable income and housing. It helps individuals sort out confusion and find purpose in a new society.
“Re-entry needs to begin the day you enter. We need to get away from warehousing individuals. Re-entry needs to work on the three important things: housing, transportation, and employment,” said Scott Peyton of Right on Crime.
Support within these programs also involves support through mental health issues and drug abuse, this helps to identify the root of the issues that first lead them to crime in the first place. Re-entry helps guide individuals to resist or avoid counterproductive situations in relation to their recovery process.
“Re-entry is essential for quality of life, building your family, building the community, and self-worth. Re-entry helps build those four qualities we all want,” said Peyton.
Re-entry programs help ensure individuals entering back into society live safe, healthy, and law-abiding lives.
“When you pour into people, give them the tools and support they need, we can restore hope,” said Judkins, “People tend to make bad choices when they don’t think they have another option. It’s our job to restore that hope.”