Main Factors for Effective Reintegration into Society

Building Relationships

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.

Addressing Needs

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.…

Strategies to Promote Effective Reintegration into Society

Re-entering individuals also face challenges in accessing public assistance. For instance, many states prohibit people formerly convicted for drug felony from accessing federal-funded public assistance and food stamps. The 1996 Federal Welfare Law bans people with a drug-related felony conviction from receiving cash assistance or federally-funded food stamps. Returning individuals are not eligible even after completing their sentence, earning a rehabilitation certificate, or overcoming their addiction. Welfare assistance is a crucial transitional resource for individuals facing economic challenges after release from prison. Denying public assistance to re-entering individuals makes it harder for them to support themselves once they leave the criminal justice system and re-enter the community. This increases their chances of returning to drug use and criminal activity.

Unsuccessful reentry into society and reincarceration negatively impacts individuals, families, and communities. Incarceration affects some communities disproportionately. For instance, people with low education, and minority communities primarily black young men, are more likely to get incarcerated. Incarceration strains relationships with families and the wider community. Societies that have high rates of removal and re-entry of offenders, this further creates immense economic and social disadvantages. Studies show that the results of corrections are not cost-effective and fail to justify the costs to individuals, families, and communities.

Strategies to Promote Effective Reintegration into Society

It is necessary to create effective strategies addressing the challenges preventing previously convicted individuals from successful reintegration into their societies. Returning individuals are disadvantaged economically, socially, and educationally, which further contributes to inequality. One way to reduce recidivism and help former convicts successfully re-enter the community is re-entry programming and prison education. Many states provide special education, technical education, career education, adult education, as well as adult post-secondary education. It is essential to focus on pre-release programs in preparing convicts to be productive members of society. Providing convicted individuals with mental health counseling, addiction treatment, education programming, and job and life skills will help overcome some of the barriers they face upon re-entering society. Studies have shown that convicts who join correctional education programs are 43% less likely to be reincarcerated. In addition, approximately $4 on incarceration costs are saved for every $1 spent on prison education.

Various efforts have been developed by policymakers to smoothen re-entry of individuals and reduce barriers. A criminal record is a burden to an individual no matter how minor the offense and creates significant challenges in community reintegration. It is essential to start re-entry preparations on the first day of incarceration. Local governments should facilitate the re-entry process by allocating finances to boost programs that assist in the provision of medication-assisted treatment and re-entry. To secure the continuity of care, it is crucial to prioritize information sharing between communities, physical and behavioral health providers, affordable life and auto insurance, and the justice system. Services offered to convicted individuals must focus on their individual needs. Successful reentry programs recognize the important relationship that must be developed between physical, relational, and behavioral health.…

How to Prepare Prisoners for Reentry into Society

The successful transformation and reintegration of former convicts into society should be the goal of any criminal justice system. But before any attempt can be made to effectively prepare prisoners for reentry into society, it is essential to understand their predicament, and the challenges they are likely to face upon release from prison. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 600,000 individuals get released from prison every year, and 75% of them are re-incarcerated within 5 years. Individuals released from prison receive inadequate resources and assistance and minimal preparation, making their reentry into society challenging. A criminal conviction limits public housing assistance, social services, and employment prospects. Even minor criminal records may create significant barriers and collateral consequences. It is essential to reinvent the current criminal justice system to change the focus from the reincarceration of former inmates to successful reentry into society. Socioeconomic factors play a central role in influencing re-entry outcomes.

A major challenge that ex-convicts face is re-entry into the labor market. Released individuals have a difficult time finding and maintaining employment after re-entry because firms are reluctant to hire individuals with criminal records. In addition to a criminal record, a lack of employment history, limited education, and the stigma of incarceration contribute to limited opportunities for employment. Most states allow firms to deny employment opportunities to people who were previously arrested, even if they were never convicted of a crime. More often than not, the only employment opportunities available to released prisoners are low-skill jobs in the manufacturing industry, maintenance, wholesale, or food service. These employment opportunities offer little benefits and few to no advancement opportunities. Furthermore, ex-convicts who manage to find jobs are offered lower wages than they earned prior to their conviction. Previously convicted individuals also experience barriers in the private and public job sectors because they are unable to obtain technical and professional licenses. When limited resources and legal employment opportunities are available, people who are re-entering their societies are more likely to re-offend.

Individuals re-entering society also face challenges in finding and securing housing. Residential instability is a high-risk factor which may lead to homelessness for re-entering individuals. When most people are released from prison, they have little to no money for securing an apartment. In addition, strict housing policies limit housing opportunities for these individuals. Presently, private market rental housing associations have issued policy guidance restricting the renting of houses to individuals with a criminal record. Also, individuals with a former felony or drug conviction are not eligible for public housing. Studies have shown that the first month after being released from prison is a vulnerable time during which the risk of recidivism and homelessness is high. In fact, without stable housing re-entering individuals are more likely to be arrested. Making housing opportunities affordable and creating lenient housing policies can smoothen an individual’s re-entry back into their society and is a crucial factor in preventing recidivism.…