Each day, all across the United States, people return home from prison (nearly 600,000/year). These individual events take place in communities large and small, urban and rural. Upon return, the ‘ex-offenders’ will have to find a place to live and work; enroll in services; and perhaps make amends to people who they have affected. Their reentry, whether successful or unsuccessful, will have a profound impact upon the well-being of communities, including: children, families, schools, businesses and neighborhoods.
Current reentry outcomes data is sobering. Recent studies show that within 5 years of their release from prison, nearly 60% of re-entering individuals will be re-incarcerated for either a new offense or a violation of the Parole conditions. Although such numbers tell part of the story, they do not fully capture the hidden costs of new victimization, uprooted lives and rendered relationships.
We can do better.
There is growing public focus and policy discussion on ways to reduce current high rates of incarceration. Counties, states and the federal government are all seeking ways to address both prison overcrowding and ease the heavy financial and human costs of incarceration. Releasing people from prison, however, is only the first step. What happens after release–how individuals, families and communities meet the unique challenges of reintegration–will either shape new narratives of healing and improved outcomes or reinforce patterns of personal and communal harm.
I started this website in order to explore, share, and support a holistic approach to community reentry. I hope this will be a gathering ground and constructive forum for multifaceted perspectives, learning, experiences, research and stories. I also hope this blog will serve as a forum for both what works and what is challenging in community reentry. Such transparency of both the ‘good and bad’ can help spur us to do better.
Have something you would like to share? A story, article, or discussion point? Send along your idea.