Constructive relationships are essential to inmates during the re-entry process. However, many convicts have broken relationships caused by the harm they may have done to their loved ones or families, or by imprisonment. This means that they are likely to return to anti-social and destructive relationships. Some strategies for building relationships include:
Finding Mentors: Identify family members or volunteers to act as mentors during re-entry. The individuals serving as mentors can be trained to provide friendship, advice, support, as well as practical assistance.
Reuniting Families: Repair and rebuild relationships between convicts and their friends and families. Open lines of communication through telephone calls, letters, and visits.
Developing Communities: Communities of support can sustain ex-convicts during re-entry. Faith communities can be quite helpful in fulfilling this role. Encourage family members and mentors to help ex-convicts win the trust of their faith community.
As we mentioned earlier ex-convicts face survival questions from the minute they are released from prison, such as where to go for lodging, how to find food, and so forth. Establishing a clear plan allows ex-convicts to settle into life outside prison. The following can help address the needs of ex-convicts:
Plan Ahead: Help convicts develop realistic plans for the first 24 hours of re-entry. This includes spending free time, locating clothing and food, accommodation for the first night, as well as the transportation to that location. After this first step, help them make realistic plans about their first month of re-entry.
Locate Resources: Identify resources available to ex-convicts from government agencies, churches, NGOs, and so forth. Ensure that convicts are familiar with the application procedures, qualifications, location of offices, and hours of operation.
Avoid Trouble: Ex-convicts will confront familiar challenges upon re-entry. Help them identify circumstances, locations, family members, and friends that may influence them to find trouble, and create strategies to avoid them.
Find Help: Some challenges require the assistance of individuals with special training. Help convicts who need it find treatment for addictions, medical conditions, mental illnesses, and so forth.
Contributing to Society
Becoming a contributing member of the community takes time, effort, and intentionality. Convicts will need to deal appropriately with the past and create a constructive future. This can be achieved through the following:
Making Amends: Successful re-entry can be challenging when the harms inflicted in the past by ex-convicts remain unaddressed. Bring together a group of skilled facilitators to guide restoration gatherings with victims to discuss how to rebuild damaged relationships and make amends.
Serving Others: Volunteering with charitable or civic entities helps ex-convicts develop daily routines, build positive relationships, and learn marketable skills.
Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses
Successful preparation for reintegration requires an honest analysis of a convicts’ individual strengths and weaknesses. Such an evaluation establishes the framework in which all the aforementioned strategies can be more effective. This can be achieved through:
Conducting Inventory: Identify convicts’ strengths such as skills, education, and employment history. Consider their assets such as undeveloped talents, spiritual maturity, social networks, and family relationships. Examine their needs, such as for treatments of health problems, addictions, and so forth. After reviewing this inventory, use it to assist convicts to make realistic re-entry plans.
Through these strategies, we can successfully prepare prisoners for reentry into society and reduce the chances of re-incarceration.