Re-entry: Prison and Reentry Programs

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Many criminals are sent to jail on a day to day basis. Once they have completed their sentence they are faced with many problems once they are “free”. These problems can be but are not limited to housing, employment, and substance abuse. The prisoner, once they are released, has a tendency to go back to their old ways and to continue the life of crime they were a part of prior to prison. To avoid this, while a prisoner is in prison, the staff creates a reentry program for the prisoner. The reentry program takes affect once the prisoner leaves prison. These programs are created within the community to help the offender from committing new crimes and to integrate them back into society. These programs are also created to help with recidivism. Recidivism is the re-arrest, re-conviction, or re-incarceration of an offender after leaving prison. To reduce this high rate of recidivism, many communities are establishing reentry programs to assist former prisoners seeking employment, housing, and coping with alcohol and substance abuse addictions and other mental health issues.

Helping ex-cons with housing is a major issue. The ex-offender is faced with the problem of trying to find a place to live. Sure many can live with family, but what about those offenders who maybe don’t get along with their family? What about the offenders whose families have “given up” on them and don’t want them around? This is where reentry comes into play. Reentry is a program where the offender may be placed in a half-way house. This is to ensure that the offender has a safe place to stay. Offenders staying in half-way houses are sometimes required to pay rent. This slowly integrates them back into society. They may have rules to abide by such as being back at the half-way house by a certain time. Many half-way houses have rules such as requiring the offender to attend a twelve-step program. They are required to sign out when leaving the premises and are required to sign back in when they return. All leaves must be authorized by the house manager in advance. They are also required to work full time while in the half-way house. The employment must also be authorized and is checked periodically to make sure the offender is actually working. Many jobs such as bars or clubs are not allowed because they sell alcohol. Visitors are usually not allowed on the premises and if they are they must first get authorization.

Rules may vary from house to house, but the rules are instilled to not hurt the offender, but to help them. These rules are put in place so the offender knows what he or she can and can not do. They are also put in place for the community’s safety so each and every offender can be accounted for and the house manager is aware of where they are who they are with and what they are doing every day. The offenders are also subject to random drug and alcohol testing. Any medications that the offender might be on, over the counter or not, must be locked away by the house manager and are given according to the instructions on the bottle. Basically the offender is one step away from jail, but also another step away from total freedom. Rules and regulations are put in place so the offender knows their boundaries and what is expected of them. If they do not follow the rules it can be grounds for discharge. Half-way houses are a great idea, because even though the offender is not locked up anymore, they are still given rules to abide by in order to slowly re-integrate them into society.

Another part of reentry might be a drug and or alcohol treatment program. A variety of scientifically based approaches to drug addiction treatment exist. Drug addiction treatment can include behavioral therapy (such as counseling, cognitive therapy, or psychotherapy), medications, or their combination. Short-Term Residential Programs provide intensive but relatively brief residential treatment based on a modified 12-step approach. These programs were originally designed...
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