There are so many steps, rules, and achievements one needs just to be back in society. For example, those going through offender reentry programs often have:
Every case is unique. The original crime committed will dictate the necessary steps to take once the prisoner is released. With sex offenders, they must register as a sex offender before they are allowed to leave the prison.
The crime committed seems to have little weight as to the success of the reentry process. Nearly 80% of reentry subjects will return to jail, often for the very same crime. But statistics show that age has a lot to do with the success rate. Older recidivists (55+) seem to “calm down” after they get into older age. Younger offenders appear to keep on repeating the same crime or graduate to more serious charges. Why is this?
Incarcerations in the US are nearly 92% male. That’s a very staggering number! From where I sit, and what I’ve seen and learned, this is just normal behavior to some of these young men/men/old men. They see their father go through the same thing, see the bad behavior, feel the lack of a fatherly presence, and the cycle just keeps repeating. These cyclical issues are a mirror image of recidivism itself. Because of this, prisoner reentry is so unsuccessful for so many recidivists. It’s very unfortunate, and sad.
The success rates for reentry, although low, do offer just a glimmer of hope for the future. Once one person breaks the cycle, it leaves room for better relationships within that family for the future. I firmly believe recidivism is learned by example. If young men and women only have bad examples, and no one to show them otherwise, how in the world could repeat offending not occur?
A lot of successful reentry subjects have gone on to teach others how to be successful at reentry. For the rare few with success, they develop a passion to show others that it can be done. Without these glorious people, we’d have even less success and more crime.
A good example of a prisoner reentry program is A New Way of Life Reentry Project. They offer so much assistance for women. Everything from housing, legal help, custody, support in court, sobriety, obtaining ID, to partnering with community-based organizations for employment needs.
Although the success rate for reentry is still low, there is still hope. The people that offer reentry services dedicate their time and lives to helping those stay out of jail and have fruitful lives. Reentry can’t be done alone, but it can be done. All good things take time, willingness to change, and knowing you’re worth the effort. Believe me, you are worth it!
Christa Belle Harrison
December 15, 2020