Question from a Concerned Citizen on Quora.com
[Modified Answer for Blog Post]
How can we support people just released from prison so they can get on track to a productive life instead of going back to crime?
Great question! I feel it’s important for those who are released to know help is available. Websites such as Fair Shake | Reentry Resource Center and other reentry based websites have collected available resources (including companies who hire ex-offenders/returning citizens), organized by state, if applicable, to help provide hope for success, and to help returning citizens know help is available. That means a lot, so, I feel it is important to support those types of services, and to then direct returning citizens to them and to any of the organizations mentioned in those sites that supplies suggestions for successful reintegration.
Family and friends may also visit those sites to learn more about what the returning citizen faces upon release. Researching for the returning citizen helps, and during the process, the family members and friends may learn ways to help supply support to returning citizens.
As I state in many of my answers, there are many variables concerning prison life and the thousands of individuals held within the walls of confinement, who are then released back into society—with society sometimes being a foreign environment—because of all the changes that occurred since the departure of the returning citizen.
All released prisoners do not have the same history (amount of time served and under what conditions, which means a lot in considering release-needs; the nature of their offense(s); substance abuse and or mental health issues; what all was lost during the period of incarceration; educational and vocational backgrounds, which may help determine employability; available resources from family and friends. etc.).
The answers to those factors help determine what others may do to help that person successfully reintegrate.
PERSONALLY: For me, it was important knowing I had the support of my family and friends, emotional support as well as any financial-support I needed, within reason. Having loved ones who provided me with clothing, any needed funds, a place to live, and a cellphone and computer helped more than the words flying from these keys can accurately represent.
I have been blessed and am fortunate to have walked out of prison, thirty-years and ten-days later, to still have family and friends who were still around and still loved and cared for me. Most returning citizens are not so fortunate and need help finding a job to support themselves, if able to work; if not, may need help finding where to apply for any available aid, and help in applying for that aid.
Forms and processes for obtaining available services can be aggravating and overwhelming to returning citizens without experience in technology.
Transitioning isn’t easy after decades away. Seeing the differences in prices have made me say on many occasions that, “They better be glad I changed my ways.” I felt like I was being robbed and would have wanted to rob-back, had I not changed.
Because of the many difficulties I have faced as an elderly-returning citizen, if I had not focused on changing my life during the last twenty-three of the thirty-years I served, I’d likely have already returned to prison. Because truthfully speaking, for many of us who have spent most of our lives inside the insane world of incarceration; in many respects, it is easier to survive life inside prison than on the outside.
On the outside, I have to be more responsible (paying bills, getting insurance, dealing with health-services; (under normal circumstances, finding a place to live), finding transportation and paying for expenses), having to make more decisions (such as what to eat and where to get it), and to learn a whole new way of life. Thus, comes the term often applied to the long-term aspect of prison life: “institutionalization.” I am not!
I’m up for the challenge and will succeed, regardless of any factors I am faced with during my transition from walking out of the Dark Ages into the Modern World. [End Quora Post]
Excerpt from Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism (July 21, 2016)
FAIRSHAKE REENTRY RESOURCE CENTER: One valuable Reentry Service that is doing its part to promote change by assisting ex-offenders, is the FairShake, Reentry Resource Center. Ms. Sue Kastensen, Founder and Director, created FairShake.net (www.fairshake.net), from her personal resources and commitment to make a difference. She deserves an award!
FairShake. net needs donations to continue to provide a place where people may go to find important information and links to organizations to facilitate the successful reentry of the formerly incarcerated.
Many of those released are like aliens entering a distant world, after having spent decades of their lives confined in cages: Those men and women need all available help to successfully reintegrate into society.
FairShake offers resource information for all to use for successful reentry.
The FairShake Reentry Packet contains useful information to improve the quality of life. Whether just beginning or near completion of his or her sentence, it is a publication worth reading for anyone interested in improving their mind, body and spirit.
Family and friends of the incarcerated may go to http://www.fairshake.net to download and print a free copy of the Reentry Packet to mail into a prison or jail for a loved one or friend. [Check prison or detention center mailroom policies before printing to mail.]
[I regret writing that the following is no longer possible due to a lack of donations to cover the $8.00 per-packet-cost, and because of new regulations in many prison mailrooms that prohibit certain types of paper due to the influx of K-2 (Spice) and Suboxone.]
The electronic Fairshake Newsletter is still available.
Those incarcerated may write or email to request a free copy–include your name, Id. No. and address. Send request to this address:
P.O. Box 63
Westby, WI 54667
If you have Corrlinks, email email@example.com.
UNIQUE WEBSITE: Their unique website offers valuable tools to assist members in their transition from the insane world of incarceration into the free society.
The website contains free web pages for members (membership is free to all formerly incarcerated individuals). The website contains five categories of important data:
- Reentry Resources (State and Local Reentry Guides);
- Employment Support;
- Building Computer Skills;
- Educate Yourself; and
- Finding Specific Pages.
The Reentry Packet illustrates how to navigate their system. Below a photo, under “Fair Shake Reentry Tool Kit,” is a list of options, including Resource Directory, Reentry Packet, Ownership Manual, Building Computer Skills, Preparing for Work, and Become a Member.
Visit http://www.fairshake.net to become part of the solution for reducing recidivism and changing lives: Save lives and taxpayer dollars!