Answer: Successful reentry saves lives, reduces crime, families are reunited, society saves money and actually makes money, and “It’s the right thing to do”.
Most states, the federal government and organizations aren’t tackling reentry in the best way possible. It is not that they don’t care or want to, they just don’t know how.
As a man who successfully reentered society and is developing a national reentry program, reentry is about understanding the actual needs of a newly released individual compared to the physical and material needs.
The evaluation of each person being released from confinement is the most important thing you can do. Every person being released has different needs, both psychological and material wise. Knowing what a person actually needs, sets the stage for a successful reintegration back into society.
Housing, addiction treatment, mental health, job skills, employment, medical needs are all important, but the psychological factor is the most important and most programs don’t address that in the right way.
I am in the process of helping a friend (Paul) who was incarcerated since 1989, (No murder, rape, or violent crime. He was a drug dealer) yes, you read that right. 1989 – A 30 year sentence, doing 25 straight years. (Fixing the broken sentencing system is another topic to be addressed at a later date.)
I explained to Paul what would happen psychologically when he leaves prison. Shock, jitters, confusion, elation. He will experience all that, and more, after a long incarceration. There is no getting around it, so it is how you handle it that matters.
Paul called me from the airport and said he had to ask a man how to flush a urinal, he didn’t know how to turn on the sink water. (It is automatic) He is in shock, even though I told him that would happen, he has to experience it. From making a phone call on a cell phone, to sitting in a car. It is all new. Paul kept saying he needs quarters for the phone. I smiled, but of course, there are no pay phones at the halfway house. Local calls are free.
It is how you adjust and get through certain things that will increase your rate of success. Our reentry program is dealing with ALL aspects of reentry. The newly released person, the halfway house, the probation department, the employer, the church or faith based group and the family and loved ones.
Paul will make it with help from our reentry program, support, love and time.
Reentry by the numbers:
The number of people incarcerated in the United States grew steadily for nearly 30 years. That number has been slowly decreasing since 2008, but as of 2012 there were still over 2 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails across the country. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that since 1990, an average of 590,400 inmates have been released annually from state and federal prisons. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has estimated that nearly three-quarters of all
released prisoners will be rearrested within five years of their release and about six in 10 will be reconvicted. According to the BJS, the average per prisoner cost of incarceration in state prison in 2010 was approximately $28,000 per year. States collectively spent nearly $48.5 billion on their correctional systems in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.