Each year more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. Another nine million cycle through local jails. More than two-thirds of prisoners are rearrested within three years of their release and half are reincarcerated. These are staggering statistics. In fact, nationally, nearly 30% of those we serve have been directly impacted by incarceration.
In order to proactively respond, has your Council or Conference ever thought about taking on a reentry program? You may ask, what is reentry, what does it mean? Reentry is the process of leaving jail or prison and returning to society. Reentry programs are designed to assist returning citizens with a successful transition to their community after they are released.
If this seems like a worthwhile project to undertake, but possibly too daunting a challenge, consider working with one of the many SVdP existing programs operating throughout the nation. Just as mentoring is a key component in an effective Reentry program, members of the NRTF and Immersion are offering to mentor any SVdP Diocesan Council, District Council, or Conference that wants to begin a program in their community.
In the same way Conferences respond to the specific needs of their communities, so do Reentry programs focus on the needs in their local areas – perhaps the local jail or a nearby prison. Every program takes on key components and designs a program that fits the needs of their local returning citizens. Most are challenged first with the need for housing and jobs to create stability in their lives. Community and spiritual support are also offered along the way.
If you haven’t started a program and would like someone to guide you through the process or if you are in the beginning stages and need assistance connecting with the essential people at the Department of Corrections, Sherriff’s Office, or any of the local officials whose support is necessary, please contact reach out to a member of the National Reentry Task Force or an appropriate staff with the National Council, and you will be connected with a mentor who can walk you through the steps needed to provide this essential service to a vulnerable segment of our population.
Judy Dietlein, National Reentry Task Force Member