One of the key pillars of the criminal justice system is the re-entry programs for offenders. Once individuals have served time in prison and served their sentences, they are eligible to be released from prison, and will have to re-enter society and be released into their communities.
So, what exactly is reentry for offenders, and why is it so vital and important for individuals?
What Is Reentry For Offenders?
Reentry is the term we use to describe the process of an individual reentering into society after being incarcerated. This transition is a difficult process and a long one, as previous offenders may struggle to re-enter their community, and start rebuilding their lives.
With successful re-entry, individuals can get a fresh start after being released from prison, which can assist in job placements, achieving housing, education and rebuilding old relationships and friendships for a happier, more positive approach to life.
Without re-entry programs, or if reentry is unsuccessful, then the rates for recidivism are much higher, and it is far more likely that previous offenders reoffend. This is why it is critical that these processes are done successfully and correctly, and offenders are referred to as clients or individuals, so that they can identify as such, and will be more likely to succeed if they are not spoken to as criminals.
How Important Is Reentry For Offenders?
Nearly 700,000 people are released each year, which works out to a staggering 1,800 each day. Many will receive access to reintegration programs to help make the transition smoother, whereas others may not receive this kind of support.
As awful as it is, around 50% of offenders will reoffend and return to prison after being released in the United States. The vast majority of these may struggle with transitioning back into society or may not have received support or a re-entry program to help guide them.
With a re-entry or reintegration program, previous offenders can receive help and aid in finding the job training, skill training, education, housing and community resources that they need to survive, and to get their lives back on track. This can help those who have served time in prison successfully adjust to life outside of the justice system.
This is why reentry for offenders is so vital to their success in the future. It can help individuals deal with past traumas, addictions, and mental health issues, whilst also offering them help and guidance in finding a job, role, and purpose in life. This can ensure that they live safely, healthily and in accordance with the law, as a good citizen of society.
What Is The Biggest Challenge With Reentry Of Offenders?
There are many challenges that those who are newly released from prison will have to face. For instance, many will not know where to begin. They may have been in prison for a few years, and many things have changed or things are not what they used to be before they went into prison.
This can be very overwhelming for many offenders reentering society, as they may feel lost and confused by everything around them. In addition, there may be family strains, or relationship problems as some time may have passed since the offender went to prison. As a result, those relationships and familial relationships from before may not be the same, which can cause some issues.
One of the biggest challenges for those newly released from prison is mental health. Many offenders may need mental health guidance and support after traumatic experiences, or to deal with being in prison and to cope with reentering society.
What Barriers Are There For Those Reentering Society?
For many offenders reentering society, they may face some barriers once released. Those who have been incarcerated may not be allowed to vote, receive public benefits such as housing or student loans, and may struggle accessing job opportunities and education.
Those who are reentering society may need additional guidance and support as they may struggle with mental health related issues, have low levels of education and skills, and could even have histories of substance abuse or physical abuse. This can make it that much harder to gain jobs, build strong bonds and relationships or reconnect with family.
How To Make Reentry Into Society Smoother
There are many things that can be done for successful reentry into society. For instance, many organizations and prisoner rehabilitation programs argue that re-entry programs should start preparing prisoners whilst still incarcerated. This can help people prepare for when the release day arrives, and give them an idea of what to expect and what will happen when they are released.
In addition to this, far too many re-entry programs focus mainly on finding jobs for previous offenders, but this is not the only support many people need. Some individuals may need additional support regarding mental health problems, trauma, addiction, and may need to speak to licensed therapists or psychologists regarding their attitudes and feelings towards crime and their behavior.
Whilst guidance towards educational opportunities and job opportunities is vital in an offender’s success, some individuals may need job training, skill development such as communication skills or IT skills, and re-entry programs should be providing the connections and resources needed to achieve their goals.
This sort of guidance can be highly beneficial, particularly if it begins before re-entry actually takes place. Also, we mentioned briefly above about calling offenders ‘clients’ instead of offenders, as this is a branch term that covers a whole host of people, and may not fit everyone’s identities. This can help individuals change their attitudes about crime and work, and help them succeed in jobs and reduce the likelihood of reoffending.
Not all offenders are the same, and many do not share the same risk levels, needs or goals, so referring to them as clients can make it more about them, as an individual than just a number, so that re-entry can be customized to their needs.
Individuals will also need guidance and check ups, with organizations offering support and 1-2-1 aid when needed. This can also help reduce recidivism and change how we consider probation and post-incarceration monitoring. This can really assist in the transition from prison back into society.